Pallone Requests Briefing on Recent COVID LDT Decision

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is demanding a briefing into the administration’s decision to permit use of laboratory-developed tests (LDT) without review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The decision states that an LDT in use without FDA authorization or approval will not be eligible for PREP Act coverage which provides liability protection for medical countermeasures used during a public health emergency. Pallone stated that the announcement was “deeply concerning and suggests the Trump administration is once again interfering with FDA’s regulation of medical products.” He argues that increasing the availability of unregulated and potentially inaccurate tests will undermine the nation’s response to the pandemic. He requests a briefing on the change from HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Cassidy Tests Positive for COVID

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to an individual with coronavirus. Cassidy will quarantine for 14 days. Cassidy and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are the only senators to have a positive viral test for COVID-19. Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) announced they had tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, indicating the senators likely were infected with the virus earlier this year.

Supreme Court Schedules ACA Hearing

The Supreme Court has scheduled its hearing on the Trump administration-backed challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for November 10, exactly one week after the presidential election. Its decision on the lawsuit is not expected to come until the spring. The Supreme Court has twice upheld the ACA in previous major challenges to the 2010 health care law.

Trump Rejects Cut To Military Health System

President Trump stated last week that he has rejected a proposal from Defense Secretary Mark Esper to cut military health services by $2.2 billion as a part of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) overall spending review. Senior defense officials had raised concerns that the funding reduction would negatively impact health care for military personnel and their families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Esper argued that the U.S. private civilian health care system could help absorb the loss. The military health system currently serves approximately 9.5 million active duty personnel, military retirees, and their dependents.

Commonwealth Fund COVID Cost Comparison Tool

The Commonwealth Fund has released a new tool to allow comparisons of COVID-19 hospital care costs across states and over time. The tool also explores who pays the cost of inpatient COVID-19 care – Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance – across the country as a whole and in four states: California, New York, Florida, and Texas. The calculator is regularly updated with epidemiological projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). They estimate that the U.S. will spend approximately $24 billion on inpatient COVID-19 care by October 31, 2020.

KFF Data on COVID Treatment Coverage

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) has released an analysis of the number of people enrolled in health coverage that has eliminated out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment. Their data shows that while 88 percent of people were enrolled in individual or fully insured group health plans that at some point during the pandemic waived cost-sharing for COVID-19, a third of the people in those markets are in plans in which the waivers have already expired or are scheduled to expire by the end of September. About a third of enrollees in the individual and fully-insured group markets are in plans that have waived cost-sharing on COVID-19 treatment for the remainder of the year, and another 15 percent are in plans where the expiration date of the waiver is unspecified or tied to the end of the designated public health emergency (PHE).

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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