Lawmakers Continue Push for Vaccine Distribution Plan

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Oversight Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette are pressing the White House to finalize and release a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. In a letter to White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, the lawmakers cite reported timelines from pharmaceutical manufacturers that a vaccine could be available for distribution in under six months. They encourage the administration to engage public health leaders and the existing immunization infrastructure in the development and implementation of its national COVID-19 vaccine plan.

Democrats Probe Kodak Loan

A group of congressional Democrats are launching a probe into Eastman Kodak Co.’s $765 million government loan under the Defense Production Act (DPA). The loan was made by the Trump administration to produce ingredients for generic drugs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. House Select Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee Chair Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) are investigating how the company won the investment. Letters were sent to Kodak CEO James Continenza and the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. (DFC), the agency charged with DPA financing. The lawmakers question why DFC would “support Kodak, an organization that was on the brink of failure in 2012 and was unsuccessful in its previous foray into pharmaceutical manufacturing.” They also question the terms of the federal loan for the production of generic pharmaceuticals. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is requesting documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) related to stock trades made by company leadership shortly prior to the announcement of the loan on July 28. Kodak stock rose about 20 percent on July 27.

E&C Chair Requests Profit Details from Health Insurers

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has launched a probe into the business practices of health insurance companies amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pallone argues that companies should be doing more to support Americans through premium discounts or waiving cash payments for COVID-19 treatment. His panel is seeking details from health and dental insurers about their compliance with laws covering COVID-19 testing and about how they intend to use their profits, which have been significantly higher during the pandemic.

Lawmakers Investigate Mental Health Centers COVID-19 Response

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are requesting information from mental health and addiction treatment centers on their efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The lawmakers have written to American Addiction Centers, Acadia Healthcare, Universal Health Services, Alita Care, BayMark Health Services, Gaudenzia Inc., BayCare Health, Promises Behavioral Health, LifeStream Behavioral Center and Pinnacle Treatment Centers asking for data on how many residents have become infected with the coronavirus. They also request details on how many COVID-19 tests have been administered to residents and staff, whether they are doing regular testing, and how many patients or staff have died from the disease.

Another House Member Tests Positive for COVID-19

House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) has tested positive for the coronavirus. He plans to work virtually from home while he quarantines. Davis has called for the institution of a coronavirus testing program on Capitol Hill.

CMS Chief of Staff to Exit This Month

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Chief of Staff Brady Brookes has announced that she will leave the agency at the end of August. Brookes first started at CMS in February 2017 as deputy chief of staff to Administrator Seema Verma. She had previously worked as then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s legislative director. Verma strongly praised Brooke’s work in helping to build CMS’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Calder Lynch, CMS’ Medicaid director, will assume the role of acting chief of staff upon Brooke’s departure. Anne Marie Costello, current Medicaid deputy director, will replace Lynch as acting Medicaid director

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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