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Daily News

March 13, 2020

A group of 25 Senate Democrats is urging HHS to reopen healthcare.gov for a special enrollment period to ensure anyone who needs coverage can get it during the coronavirus pandemic.

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A group of 25 Senate Democrats is urging HHS to reopen healthcare.gov for a special enrollment period to ensure anyone who needs coverage can get it during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Trump administration took new steps Friday (March 13) to speed up coronavirus testing: HHS Secretary Alex Azar tapped former acting FDA chief Brett Giroir to coordinate diagnostic testing efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FDA and public and private laboratories across the country; and FDA decided to let the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) use a third-party reviewer to authorize diagnostic tests and granted Roche Molecular Systems the agency’s third Emergency Use Authorization for a laboratory developed test.

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Protect Our Care, a pro-Affordable Care Act coalition, suspended Friday (March 13) its upcoming bus tour to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passage of the law and to promote Democratic candidates in vulnerable Republican districts, citing the growing coronavirus pandemic.

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March 12, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield committed to waive coronavirus test fees for all Americans, including the uninsured, during a heated exchange with Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) during a House Oversight & Reform Committee hearing Thursday (March 12).

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Democratic primary candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden both proposed the U.S. government prevent pharmaceutical companies from price gouging patients for critical supplies during the coronavirus outbreak and make testing, vaccines and treatments free of charge.

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A new stimulus package House Democrats unveiled Wednesday night (March 11) aimed at combating economic fallout from the outbreak of COVID-19 would temporarily increase the federal match for state Medicaid, a move backed by former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and policy analysts.

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Medicaid Health Plans of America asks CMS to promptly take steps to make it easier for states to address COVID-19: The group says CMS should encourage states to forgo cost-sharing for Medicaid beneficiaries dealing with COVID-19, and issue additional guidance on Medicaid telehealth, prescription refills and how to handle face-to-face care management meetings.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA) said he wants CMS to implement the Medicare telehealth provisions of the supplemental COVID-19 funding bill immediately to help those in urban areas use such services.

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The American Association for Homecare is seeking CMS guidance on how to deal with specific durable medical equipment challenges connected to the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as information from major respiratory stakeholders on how they are responding.

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Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) will likely put off attaching her bill that would create guardrails on demonstrations from CMS’ innovation center to a legislative vehicle until after May because the lawmaker’s focus is now on passing legislation ensuring access to coronavirus treatment and providing resources to hospitals, according to a spokesperson.

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Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) urged FDA chief Stephen Hahn to be honest with the public about the number of people that can be tested per day for coronavirus, coming as Hahn and other members of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force tout the large number of diagnostic test that are being sent out to public health labs and hospitals.

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March 11, 2020

Massachusetts’ health insurance exchange on Wednesday (March 11) became the second state-based marketplace in as many days to open up a special enrollment period due to the coronavirus pandemic after Washington state announced its own SEP on Tuesday, and more state-based exchanges may be making similar decisions soon.

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FDA drug center chief Janet Woodcock argued against revealing the names of drugs that are in shortage because of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying not only is the agency not allowed to share that information but that revealing it would confuse those who aren’t experts in the drug space and could create panic.

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The House Energy & Commerce health subcommittee on Wednesday (March 11) unanimously approved three bills that would strengthen patient protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

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CMS on Tuesday night (March 10) issued updated guidance for providers in home health settings and dialysis facilities amid COVID-19 concerns, but home health agencies want to see more regulations relaxed as they respond to the pandemic.

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It took IRS less than 24 hours to agree to large employers’ formal request that they be allowed to waive coronavirus treatment and testing cost-sharing for workers enrolled in high-deductible health plans without violating IRS policies.

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As the spread of coronavirus places a spotlight on long-standing issues in the pharmaceutical supply chain and lawmakers seek solutions, the newest drug shortage bill, House Energy & Commerce Committee member Scott Peters’ (D-CA) Preventing Drug Shortages Act (H.R. 6080), brings together bipartisan ideas that a policy expert says would help address supply issues during the outbreak by increasing supply chain transparency and reporting.

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House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders from both parties have requested FDA brief them by March 23 on the effect the coronavirus outbreak has had on the drug and device supply chain and on how the agency plans to combat potential shortages.

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FDA on Tuesday (March 10) officially reopened its April 2019 cannabidiol comment docket on Regulations.gov in order to gather up-to-date information on CBD as it crafts regulations and determines whether to allow the compound to be used in consumer products, including foods and dietary supplements.

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