Democrats Expand Investigation into White House COVID PR Campaign

Democrats in the House of Representatives are expanding their investigation into the White House’s $300 million ad campaign used to promote the President’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The probe being led by the Oversight and Reform Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will now include the administration’s public relations contracts with Atlas Research and DD&T Group. The lawmakers had previously sent an inquiry to Fors Marsh Group. The companies were paid by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to produce advertisements which the lawmakers have characterized as political propaganda. The panels are requesting details on the companies’ contracts and related documents, and all communication with HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo. On Friday, Secretary Azar announced he had ordered a review of the campaign, while Politico reported that same day that the three celebrities who had agreed to participate in the campaign were reconsidering.

Clyburn Calls on Administration to Fix School Reopening Guidance

Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has written to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Vice President Mike Pence, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield asking the administration to revise guidance on the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic to “accurately reflect the science.” “I am alarmed that CDC—the world’s preeminent public health agency—has issued guidance that misstates the science, is internally inconsistent, and could put children, teachers, and their families at greater risk of infection and death from the coronavirus,” Clyburn wrote. “Rather than reflecting sound science, new reports show that CDC’s misleading guidance was the product of intense political pressure from the President and political appointees at the White House and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).” The letter requests a staff briefing by October 7, 2020, and documents and information by October 14, 2020.

Medicare Spends $4.4 Billion on COVID Hospitalizations

The latest snapshot of Medicare COVID-19 data shows that the program has spent $4.4 billion this year to hospitalize more than 178,000 beneficiaries with COVID-19. More than one million beneficiaries have contracted the coronavirus, with elderly, minority, and patients with kidney failure those most likely to be impacted. Eighty percent of hospitalized Medicare patients had high blood pressure, 62 percent had high levels of fat or lipids in their blood, 52 percent had chronic kidney disease, 51 percent had diabetes, and 45 percent had anemia. Among those who were hospitalized, 31 percent went home, 32 percent died, 22 percent were discharged to nursing homes, 13 percent received home health services, and 5 percent went into hospice care.

AHRQ Launches National Nursing Home COVID Action Network

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has announced a partnership with the University of New Mexico ECHO Institute and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to establish a National Nursing Home COVID Action Network. The partnership will provide free training and mentorship to nursing homes across the country to increase the implementation of evidence-based infection prevention and safety practices to protect residents and staff. More than 15,000 nursing homes that are certified to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs will be able to participate in a 16-week training program using a standardized curriculum developed by the IHI. Training and mentorship will be provided through the Project ECHO External Link Disclaimer model of telementoring. Nursing home teams that would like to participate may sign-up on the Project ECHO website.

Toomey Will Not Seek Reelection in 2022

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will not seek reelection or run for governor of Pennsylvania in 2022. Toomey was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after previously serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for six years. Honoring his pledge to limit himself to three terms, he did not seek re-election to the House in 2004. His current senate term will end January 3, 2023. Toomey currently serves on the Senate Banking, Budget, and Finance committees. He is the co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease.

E&C Personnel Changes

Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Greg Walden (D-Ore.) has announced senior staff changes for the committee. Staff director Mike Bloomquist has accepted a job in the private sector and will be replaced by deputy staff director Ryan Long. Long returned to work for Energy and Commerce Republicans during the 115th Congress. He has previously spent time in private practice after a decade with the committee in various roles including professional staff member, counsel, and chief health counsel under Chairmen Joe Barton and Fred Upton.

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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