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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Update

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02/26/2021

HBMA COVID-19 Federal Response Update

Congress

  • The House of Representatives plans to vote on the budget reconciliation bill that will provide $1.9 trillion in new COVID-19 relief on Friday.
  • Executives from pharmaceutical companies developing and producing COVID-19 vaccines told Congress that a significant increase in vaccine supply is coming soon.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • President Biden announced the Small Business Administration (SBA) will make some changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to make loans more available to smaller and minority owned businesses.
  • CMS announced that it will exempt all MIPS-eligible clinicians (EC) from the nine percent negative payment adjustment for the 2020 reporting year (2022 payment year). CMS explains the new EUC policy in its QPP COVID-19 Response Fact Sheet.
  • The federal government will begin sending 25 million masks to 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food banks.
  • NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said new CDC guidance for fully vaccinated people could be published in the near future.
  • The HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will not enforce fines for HIPAA violations for vaccine scheduling tools.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • Both Pfizer and Moderna outlined plans to test booster doses of their vaccines to address new variants of COVID-19.
  • An FDA staff review indicates Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 was effective. The FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet on Friday. This is expected to be the final step in the approval process. The FDA could issue an emergency use authorization for the vaccine as early as Saturday.
    • Ahead of an anticipated FDA approval for its vaccine, Johnson & Johnson will have between 3 and 4 million doses ready to ship next week.
  • The FDA will allow Pfizer’s vaccine to be stored at temperatures that most medical refrigerators can handles. Originally, the vaccine needed ultra-cold storage, requiring facilities to increase their refrigeration capabilities.
  • Novavax expects to have enough clinical trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine to submit to the FDA by early April.
  • The military began delivering shots at mass vaccination centers.
  • HHS will stop serving as the sole distributer of COVID-19 antibody treatments. HHS now says that providers should order the drugs directly from manufacturers.
  • Weekly first time unemployment claims declined from 841,000 to 730,000.