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Daily News

March 16, 2021

The Federal Trade Commission is forming a group to update analyses of drug company mergers as part of a bid to more aggressively police anticompetitive behavior.

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March 15, 2021

Nursing home providers and advocates want lawmakers to pass a series of workforce, oversight, clinical and structural reforms for the sector and increase funding to support those measures.

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The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s annual March report, released Monday (March 15), says telehealth flexibilities should be extended after the COVID-19 public health emergency expires but should not yet be made permanent; however, the commission did not make official recommendations in the report.

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The American Medical Association, Planned Parenthood and other parties suing over the Trump HHS’ so-called “gag” rule, joined by the Biden administration, are asking the Supreme Court to dismiss the case because Biden’s HHS is taking steps to revoke the rule.

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The House this week will consider three bipartisan drug-pricing and food safety bills, two of which aim to increase competition and lower drug prices by more narrowly defining the types of new drugs that can receive five years of exclusivity and by increasing education in biologics and biosimilars.

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White House adviser Andy Slavitt said Monday (March 15) that Medicare will nearly double reimbursement for administering coronavirus vaccines, from about $23 per shot to $40 per shot, to entice vaccinators to reach people in rural areas and speed up the national vaccination campaign.

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March 14, 2021

While several state-based exchanges will automatically update existing consumers’ accounts so they can access the more generous tax credits enacted under the American Rescue Plan, consumers in states using healthcare.gov will need to return to the site starting April 1, HHS officials announced Friday.

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March 12, 2021

CMS delayed a final rule Friday (March 12) that would provide instant Medicare coverage of FDA-designated breakthrough technology for four years in order to hold a 30-day public comment period on the rule that the Trump administration finalized shortly before leaving office.

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The Supreme Court canceled oral arguments in the Medicaid work requirements lawsuit on Thursday (March 11) but briefs in the case are still due later this month, according to those following the issue, so the court has not stepped away from the case.

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Scott Gottlieb and Margaret Hamburg joined other past FDA chiefs in calling for FDA to be an independent agency that reports directly to the White House, saying the current structure where FDA reports to HHS slows down regulations and policymaking and offers a vehicle for stakeholders to lobby HHS to change FDA decisions.

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House Democrats’ bill to extend the Medicare sequester moratorium and waive the cost of the American Rescue Plan likely would need to be changed to make it through the upper chamber, those closely following the issue say, as one lobbyist notes Republicans aren’t necessarily in favor of waiving the PAY-GO scorecard for the newly signed COVID-19 relief bill.

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The United States’ response to combating antimicrobial resistance has taken a step back thanks to the COVID-19 public health emergency, according to a new study from Pew Charitable Trusts, as the large influx of hospitalized patients due to the virus resulted in unnecessary use of antibiotics.

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Many hospitals are dragging their feet on the new hospital price transparency requirements and compliance is low overall, though some major providers have begun to comply, Deloitte representatives said at the America’s Health Insurance Plans conference Thursday (March 11).

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HHS has again expanded its list of health care personnel who can administer COVID-19 vaccines under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, this time adding current and previously licensed veterinarians, dentists, physician assistants, nurses, midwives, paramedics and optometrists, as well as certain health and medical students that have appropriate training in administering vaccines, the Biden administration announced Friday (March 12).

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The American Psychological Association CEO advocated for increased funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention, better enforcement of mental health parity laws and racial equity in treatment at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 and the mental health and substance use crises Thursday (March 11).

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March 11, 2021

House Democrats plan to take up legislation next week to extend the Medicare sequester moratorium through the end of the year and to waive the PAY-GO scorecard for the newly signed American Rescue Plan so that it doesn’t create an additional sequester cut, lobbyists say.

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As President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law on Thursday (March 11), Rhode Island and DC’s exchanges told consumers that systems are being updated and the increased ACA tax credits will be available to many enrollees starting in April.

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President Joe Biden will direct all states, tribes and territories to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults by no later than May 1, the administration announced Thursday (March 11).

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Longtime House Ways & Means staffer and health policy expert Melanie Egorin is moving to HHS to serve as deputy director of the HHS Office of Legislation, the White House announced Thursday.

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President Joe Biden on Thursday signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that significantly expands the Affordable Care Act’s tax credits, increases Medicaid funding and incentivizes states to expand their programs, fully subsidizes COBRA premiums through September and much more.

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