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Daily News

March 11, 2021

The Department of Homeland Security has formally removed the Trump-era public charge policy through a new rule filed in the Federal Register Thursday (March 11) and set to be published Monday (March 15).

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Health insurers -- and exchange directors - who want Congress to maintain the newly enhanced ACA tax credits beyond 2022 need to invest in a strong marketing campaign to make sure eligible Americans enroll in coverage or the opportunity could slip away, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee warned stakeholders attending America’s Health Insurance Plans’ annual conference Wednesday.

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Lee Fleisher, CMS chief medical officer and director of its Center for Clinical Standards & Quality, told insurers Tuesday (March 9) that peer-to-peer outreach is crucial for convincing reluctant people to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

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A new coalition of health care companies is advocating for increased Medicare coverage and reimbursement of at-home outpatient services, entering the health lobbying scene as the pandemic spurs interest in home-based care.

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CMS Chief Medical Officer Lee Fleisher weighed the benefits -- and drawbacks -- of telehealth Tuesday (March 9) at the America’s Health Insurance Plans conference as he and Danielle Lloyd, AHIP’s senior vice president of private market innovations and quality initiatives for clinical affairs, discussed the quality action plan that is in the works at CMS.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is scheduling a drug pricing hearing March 23 for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension subcommittee that he chairs, lobbyists say.

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Advocates for patients with high cholesterol are criticizing a recent report by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review that recommends limiting the use of two new high cholesterol drugs and lowering their prices.

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March 10, 2021

In a letter to President Joe Biden, six former FDA heads urge the president to focus on naming an FDA chief nominee and securing a leadership team at FDA, and while they don’t say who Biden should nominate, the former commissioners do indicate support for acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, who they say is a “highly effective advocate” for advancing FDA’s mission.

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Senate Democrats led by New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen are pushing legislation that would enhance the value of and eligibly for the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and permanently fund the program, thus eliminating the need for the “silver-loading” workaround that insurers crafted after the Trump administration ended direct payments to reimburse their costs for the subsidies in 2017.

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It its first update since September, CMS said nursing homes should allow indoor visits for residents, with limited exceptions -- though the document says outdoor visits are preferred even when residents and visitors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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A senior Democratic aide says the House plans to take up an extension of the Medicare sequester moratorium in the next few weeks, after providers unsuccessfully pushed for the extension to be part of the American Rescue Plan.

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The Biden administration plans to buy another 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, administration officials said Wednesday (March 10), but they provided no details on price or the production schedule.

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HHS is delaying for another four months a Trump administration rule to make health clinics pass 340B discounts on insulin and epinephrine to patients.

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Former Biden adviser Chris Jennings and Matt Eyles, head of the nation’s largest insurance lobby, agreed on Tuesday (March 9) that Congress will face pressure to maintain the more generous ACA premium tax credits that is slated to pass as part of the American Rescue Plan but will expire in just two years.

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March 09, 2021

A coalition of health and consumer advocacy organizations on Tuesday (March 9) filed suit against HHS over a Trump-era rule that requires health agency regulations be assessed every 10 years or be automatically scrapped.

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House Appropriations subcommittee lawmakers from both parties on Tuesday (March 9) urged FDA to embrace new tools -- such as requiring country of origin labels and assigning a grade to drug companies -- to help consumers know which drugs are safe as the agency continues its hold on foreign onsite inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Supreme Court dismissed three cases challenging the Trump-era public charge rule Tuesday (March 9), after the Department of Justice and lawyers for immigration advocacy groups and states filed joint stipulations calling for the cases to be dismissed because the Biden administration is not defending the controversial rule.

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An at-home COVID-19 antigen test heavily invested in by the federal government as a linchpin for the national pandemic response does not collect data detailing patients’ racial and ethnic background, which some experts say decreases the test less usefulness as a public health tool because it doesn’t show which minority groups are testing positive for the virus at the highest rates.

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Medicare Payment Advisory Commission members supported draft recommendations for a new value incentive program to reward skilled nursing facilities for good performance, and they said their lingering concerns about rewarding low-performing homes that serve high proportions of dually eligible beneficiaries could be tackled in the future through upfront payments and public reporting of nursing home performance scores.

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Cigna, which extended its offerings in the ACA exchanges by 50% for the 2021 plan year, has announced plans to double its marketplace footprint by 2025.

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