Health Update (August 31)
Trump Signs ‘Most-Favored Nation’ EO
On Saturday evening (Aug. 22) President Trump tweeted he had signed the ‘Most-Favored Nation’ executive order (EO). The order, which would tie drug prices in Medicare Part B to prices in economically similar countries through the International Pricing Index (IPI), was first introduced in late July along with three other drug pricing EOs. The text of the EO has yet to be made public.
Trump’s self-imposed deadline to reach a deal with pharmaceutical companies on the order passed Monday (Aug. 24).
Trump Highlights COVID-19 Successes in RNC Acceptance Speech
On the final night of the Republican National Convention (RNC), President Trump emphasized the administration’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting Operation Warp Speed and the three vaccine candidates in final stage clinical trials. The president once again predicted a vaccine will be approved by the end of the year.
Additionally, Trump claimed in a second term he will: protect Medicare and Social Security; protect coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions; end surprise billing; require medical price transparency; and lower the cost of prescription drugs and health care premiums.
On Sunday (Aug. 23), the Trump campaign announced the president’s second term agenda. Below is an outline of the campaign’s priorities related to healthcare:
- Make All Critical Medicines and Supplies for Healthcare Workers in The United States.
- Allow 100% Expensing Deductions for Essential Industries like Pharmaceuticals and Robotics who Bring Back their Manufacturing to the United States.
- Develop a Vaccine by The End Of 2020
- Refill Stockpiles and Prepare for Future Pandemics
- Cut Prescription Drug Prices
- Put Patients and Doctors Back in Charge of our Healthcare System
- Lower Healthcare Insurance Premiums
- End Surprise Billing
- Cover All Pre-Existing Conditions
- Protect Social Security and Medicare
- Protect Our Veterans and Provide World-Class Healthcare and Services
To view the full platform, click here.
CMS Releases FAQS on PRF Reimbursements
On Thursday (Aug. 27), CMS released an additional set of FAQs for Medicare providers regarding the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program payments. The FAQs provide guidance on how to report PRF payments, uninsured charges reimbursed through the Uninsured Program administered by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and SBA Loan Forgiveness amounts. Additionally, the FAQs also address that provider relief fund payments should not offset expenses on the Medicare Cost Report.
To view the FAQs, click here.
FDA Approves Convalescent Plasma Treatment
On Sunday (Aug. 23), FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and President Trump announced the FDA issuance of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19.
“I am committed to releasing safe and potentially helpful treatments for COVID-19 as quickly as possible in order to save lives. We’re encouraged by the early promising data that we’ve seen about convalescent plasma. The data from studies conducted this year shows that plasma from patients who’ve recovered from COVID-19 has the potential to help treat those who are suffering from the effects of getting this terrible virus,” Hahn said during the press conference.
“At the same time, we will continue to work with researchers to continue randomized clinical trials to study the safety and effectiveness of convalescent plasma in treating patients infected with the novel coronavirus,” he added.
To view the FDA announcement, click here.
HHS to Distribute $1.5 Million N-95 Respirators to Nursing Facilities
On Tuesday (Aug. 25), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of 1.5 million N95 respirators from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) for distribution to approximately 3,336 nursing home facilities across the U.S. HHS will target nursing homes whose PPE supply is insufficient or depleted.The respirators are meant to supplement existing supplies of PPE and will provide a seven-day supply for each nursing home to support an entire shift before discarding used products. These shipments support only Medicare and Medicaid-approved nursing homes and will help safeguard the most vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Through the use of the Defense Production Act, the federal government has increased the domestic production of N95 respirators and has allowed the SNS to grow,” said Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, HHS Supply Chain Task Force lead.
“This increase has allowed us to use our existing surge-capacity built up in the stockpile to distribute 1.5 million masks to meet the needs of front-line healthcare workers caring for one of our most-affected populations. Our goal is to enable our states to provide longer term support in the fight against COVID-19,” he added.
The Defense Logistics Agency will begin distributing shipments on Friday (Aug. 28).
To view the HHS announcement, click here.
 Wilkerson, John, “Trump Signed Favored-Nation Order Last Week, But It’s Still Not Public,” Inside Health Policy, 23 Aug. 2020. https://link.edgepilot.com/s/565b36b3/8Iy4EJLq70OhVmFFIxS0mg?u=https://insidehealthpolicy.com/inside-drug-pricing-daily-news/trump-signed-favored-nation-order-last-week-it%25E2%2580%2599s-still-not-public