Health Update (May 12)
Provider Relief Fund Updates
This week, HHS released FAQs on Provider Relief Fund Distributions. To view the FAQs, click here.
Attestation and Terms and Conditions: On Thursday (May 7), HHS increased the number of days healthcare providers have to attest receipt of payments from the Provider Relief Fund and accept the Terms and Conditions from 30 day to 45 days. Not returning payment within 45 days will be considered an acceptance of the Terms and Conditions.
To view the Attestation Portal, click here.
To view Provider Relief Fund Terms and Conditions, click here.
Uninsured Program: Wednesday (May 6) was the first day physicians were able to submit patient information for reimbursement for COVID-19 related services provided to uninsured individuals on or after February 4, 2020. Providers must verify and attest patients do not have individual, employer-sponsors, Medicare, or Medicaid coverage. HHS released FAQs on the uninsured program this week.
To view the Uninsured Claims Reimbursement Portal, click here.
To view Uninsured Program FAQs. click here.
High Impact/Rural Distribution: Last Friday (May 1), HHS began distributing payments from the Provider Relief Fund to hospitals with high COVID-19 admissions and rural providers.
To view the state by state breakdown of hospital payments, click here.
To view the state by state breakdown of rural provider payments, click here.
To view the full HHS announcement, click here.
Administration Distributes $583M to FQHCs
On Thursday (May 7), HHS awarded $583 million to Federal-Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) across the United States to expand COVID-19 testing. FQHCs are currently providing more than 100,000 weekly tests, with more than 65 percent of centers offering walk-up or drive-through testing. The funding was authorized by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
To view a list of award recipients, click here.
Resources for Community-based Testing
HHS has partnered with pharmacy and resource companies to increase community testing across the country. Companies are coordinating with state and local governments to provide Americans with faster, less invasive, and more convenient testing, protect health personnel, and expand testing, particularly in under-tested areas.
For additional information on the partnership, click here.
The FDA has released FAQs for consumers on COVID-19 testing. The FAQs cover treatment options such as remdesivir and the types of testing currently available.
To view the FDA’s FAQs, click here.
Pelosi Signals Drug Supply Chain Bill to be Included in Next Stimulus
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated Wednesday (May 6) that Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo’s (D-CA) drug supply chain bill will be included in the chamber’s next stimulus package.
H.R. 6670, the “Prescription for American Drug Independence Act of 2020”, is cosponsored by Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) and calls for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to form an expert committee to assess supply chain issues and provide recommendations on how to reduce dependence on foreign manufacturing.
“Our nation’s overreliance on the foreign production of critical drugs and their ingredients has led to drug shortages and subpar quality,” Eshoo stated in a press release.
“Our fragile supply chain has long been a problem, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now an emergency. The U.S. must have a national strategy to eliminate foreign dependence for critical drugs and with it, Congress can move quickly to act on the recommendations of the experts,” she continued.
Senate HELP Committee Hears From NIH, BARDA, on Testing
On Thursday (May 7), the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing entitled, “Shark Tank: New Tests for COVID-19”.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions heard testimony from leaders at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on new developments in diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Dr. Francis Collins, explained the agency’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program, through which NIH hopes to make widespread point-of-care testing a reality by Fall 2020. Collins noted that this is an optimistic timeline. Additionally, he explained RADx-UP, which will place demonstration sites in underserved areas to ensure testing in these communities. Dr. Gary Disbrow, of BARDA, discussed how his agency will work with NIH on the advanced development and manufacturing component of testing. Both witnesses noted the importance of understanding the material components that go into both manufacturing and administering diagnostic tests to anticipate potential supply chain disturbances.
An executive summary of this hearing can be found here.
House Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Response
On Wednesday (May 6), the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing entitled, “COVID-19 Response”.
The Subcommittee heard testimony from public health experts Dr. Tom Frieden, former CDC Director, and Dr. Caitlin Rivers, John Hopkins Center for Health Security, on the United States’ COVID-19 Response. Both witnesses noted the severity of this public health crisis. They said that only by implementing widespread testing, contact tracing, and ensuring the health care system has the resources it needs to handle the capacity of cases, will the virus be slowed. In addition to reopening, the subcommittee discussed what the United States can do to prepare for future outbreaks. Frieden suggested that funding for public health programs related to outbreaks and disease should not be subject to budgetary caps. Instead, it should exist in a separate account, similar to the Overseas Contingency Operations Account (OCO) for defense, outside of the traditional budget process. Cole was very receptive to this idea and noted that he and the Chairwomen have spoken about this. The committee also discussed supply chain issues and the need for domestic manufacturing of PPE and pharmaceuticals.
An executive summary of the hearing can be found here.
BGOV Holds Webinar on the Health Agenda During COVID
On Wednesday (May 7), Bloomberg Government (BGOV) hosted a webinar entitled, “How the COVID-19 Crisis has Reshaped the Health Agenda”. BGOV analysts discussed the legislative and administrative actions that have been taken thus far to aid the healthcare industry and additional health measures that may be included in future stimulus legislation. Democrats have floated a number of ideas, including: enacting price controls on COVID-19 drugs and vaccines; ensuring free COVID-19 treatment; and opening a special enrollment period for Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges. However, any package will need broad bipartisan support to get through the Senate, where leadership has indicated a “wait-and-see” approach to future action. Areas with the potential for bipartisan agreement include: incentivizing domestic drug manufacturing; ensuring hazard pay for workers; and COBRA subsidies. BGOV analysts also discussed the state of surprise billing and drug pricing, and indicated that restructuring Part D to implement out-of-pocket caps for seniors is the main area with potential for movement.
To view a recording of the webinar, click here.
Lienhard, Kelly “Pelosi: Eshoo’s Supply Chain Bill to be Included in Upcoming Stimulus” Inside Health policy, 7 May 2020