Senate GOP, WH Coordinating on Next COVID Stimulus

The Trump administration is pushing to include measures to address surprise medical billing, drug pricing transparency, and telehealth reimbursement in the next coronavirus stimulus package, according to a report last week from Politico. The White House and Senate Republicans are in agreement that the legislation should cost $1 trillion or less. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has stated that the bill is being drafted by his office in consultation with the administration and will then be negotiated with Democrats. McConnell said that he is focused on provisions to help reopen schools and support jobs and health care.

Health Leaders Push for Testing Coverage

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have spearheaded a letter to Trump administration officials urging them to revisit COVID-19 testing coverage guidance. The lawmakers argue that the guidance allows insurance companies to deny coverage claims for back-to-work or surveillance testing. “With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing and our testing capacity nowhere near where it needs to be, it is unacceptable that this Administration’s priority seems to be giving insurance companies loopholes instead of getting people the free testing they need,” the letter states. “We believe this guidance is contrary to statute, and urge you to take immediate action to clarify the obligations of group health plans and insurers to provide robust and comprehensive coverage of COVID-19 testing.” The letter was signed by House Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott (D-Va.), House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), and Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Lawmakers Raise Concerns About OPO Oversight

Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.) have written to the Trump administration urging officials to finalize a rule that would establish new accountability requirements for organ procurement organizations (OPOs). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed regulation last year regarding oversight and reporting requirements for OPOs, which are asking that the rule be deferred because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers ask that HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma move forward with the rulemaking process and establish clear and concise guidelines for OPOs.

WH Moves to Withdraw US from WHO

The White House has given the United Nations a one-year notice of the United States’ intention to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). President Trump has blamed the organization for deferring to China and failing to provide accurate information throughout the coronavirus pandemic. His decision has been widely criticized by congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who have raised concerns about the impact of the move as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the country.

HHS Announces Additional CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Distributions

On July 10, HHS announced $4 billion in additional distributions, including up to $3 billion in funding to hospitals serving a large percentage of vulnerable populations on thin margins and approximately $1 billion to specialty rural hospitals, urban hospitals with certain rural Medicare designations, and hospitals in small metropolitan areas, in addition to previous funds allocated for these entities. HHS also stated that it is opening the provider portal to allow dentists to apply for relief, with applications being due by July 24. With this additional allocation, the Fund has approximately $50 billion dollars left (less any funds for the dentists).

FDA to Resume Inspections July 20

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will resume prioritized domestic inspections of regulated facilities the week of July 20, as long as the current trajectory of COVID-19 will permit personnel to perform their duties in a safe manner. The FDA has developed a rating system to help determine when and where it is safest to conduct prioritized domestic inspections. The COVID-19 Advisory Rating system (COVID-19 Advisory Level) uses real-time data to qualitatively assess the number of COVID-19 cases in a local area based on state and national data.

Hart Health Strategies COVID-19 Resources

Hart Health Strategies Inc. continues to update the following resources related to the coronavirus pandemic. Please remember to clear your cache to ensure you download the most recent documents.

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