President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan that includes $20 billion in funding for a national vaccine program, $350 billion for state and local governments, $50 billion for COVID-19 testing, and $170 billion for K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Dubbed the American Rescue Plan, the proposal would provide $1,400 in direct payments to most Americans, boost federal unemployment benefits to $400 per week, raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and extend the eviction and foreclosure bans until the end of September.
The CMS released its final annual Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for Affordable Care Act plans for the 2022 coverage year, lowering the user fee for plans sold on the federal exchange to 2.25% of premiums and 1.75% for plans sold on state exchanges using the federal platform. The rule also includes a provision that encourages states to collaborate with private firms to create next-generation exchanges.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission voted Thursday to recommend raising Medicare payment rates to acute-care and long-term-care hospitals by 2% next year. The commission also plans to recommend to Congress to retain the payment rates for physicians and lower payments to home health firms and inpatient rehabilitation centers by 5%.
The US logged more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases Thursday for the 10th day in a row, as well as more than 3,000 fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths to more than 388,000 since the pandemic started. New ensemble projections from the CDC predict the COVID-19 death toll could top 400,000 by the third week of January as hospitals and health systems struggle to keep up with the surge of patients with COVID-19.
CDC researchers found that cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 have increased in children, adolescents and young adults since September, with weekly incidence higher in every successively increasing age group. The findings, published in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, also showed that time trends in weekly reported incidence for youths were parallel with trends among adults, with positive test results and incidence rising since September.
A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found the sharp growth in telehealth use during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was driven more by patients seeking behavioral health care services than those seeking care for physical ailments. The findings, based on a survey of more than 2,000 respondents in May 2020, also revealed many patients switched to telehealth to connect with their own doctors.
An adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine being tested and produced by Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose and is refrigerator-stable for months, giving it an advantage over two-dose mRNA-based vaccines if it is approved. J&J signed an agreement to provide 12 million doses to the US government by the end of February and 100 million doses by the end of June, but the company is reportedly up to two months behind the original production schedule, and clinical trial results are not expected until late this month or sometime next month.
An updated report by the CDC indicates that the total number of COVID-19 vaccines distributed as of Jan. 14 has reached 30,628,175 doses, while the number of first doses administered now stands at 11,148,991.
Little has been accomplished as far as legislation to reduce drug prices despite bipartisan support, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., indicated he might push for legislation without Republican support using budget reconciliation.
Telehealth has exploded during the COVID-19 crisis, and it appears to be fulfilling its promise as a significant part of the health care system. Check out AHIP's infographic for a look at the growing use of telehealth during COVID-19 and policy recommendations for its sustained use.
Join us on Thursday, Jan. 28 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET for "The Future of Risk Analytics" as experts from Change Healthcare and two health insurance providers discuss how to drive better provider engagement & influence behaviors in the risk adjustment process, and what is needed in the future for more comprehensive, integrated data and risk adjustment strategy.
Connect deeply with others. Our humanity is the one thing that we all have in common.
Melinda Gates, philanthropist, advocate for women and girls
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