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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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09/25/2020

Congress

  • The House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend federal funding from September 30th until December 11th. The Senate is expected to pass the bill shortly and the President indicated he will sign the legislation into law when it reaches his desk.
    • In addition to extending federal funding, the bill extends the time providers have to repay accelerated and advance Medicare payments from 210 days to 29 months. It also lowers the interest rate for re-payments made after that date from 10.25 percent to four percent.
    • CMS was supposed to automatically begin recouping those payments from Medicare payments in August. However, CMS did not make any recoupment withholdings pending the outcome of Congressional action to extend the repayment timeline.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) outlined how Congress would need to cut spending to restore the federal deficit to pre-pandemic levels.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published updated requirements for how providers must report information about how they spent the funding they received from the provider relief fund (PRF). The new requirements apply for awards that exceed $10,000.
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on how the federal government can strengthen its response to the COVID-19 pandemic by improving the medical supply chain, data collection, and economic assistance, among other things.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a flow chart with information to help states, nursing facilities, and other providers better understand the sources of Medicare and Medicaid coverage and payment for COVID-19 testing. 
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) began a program to better inform minority populations about the vaccine studies — and other COVID-19 information — and awarded $12 million to help form “community engagement” teams in 11 especially hard-hit states.
  • CMS released preliminary Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) data revealing that, during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), rates for vaccinations, primary, and preventive services among children in Medicaid and CHIP have steeply declined.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Economic Recovery, Testing, Treatment and Vaccine

  • Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine entered Phase 3 of their clinical trial. This is the fourth vaccine to enter Phase 3 clinical trials in the U.S.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci defended the integrity of the FDA’s vaccine approval process. The FDA is preparing to issue new guidelines on how it will grant emergency use authorizations to vaccine candidates.
  • Dr. Moncef Slaoui, leader of the White House Operation Warp Speed vaccine development and distribution initiative said we should be able to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers and high-risk Americans by the end of the year.
  • AstraZeneca has not yet received permission from the FDA to resume its U.S. Phase 3 trial for its vaccine candidate after a potential adverse reaction was identified in a U.K. trial patient.
  • CDC will provide $200 million to 64 jurisdictions for COVID-19 vaccine preparedness.
  • The CDC is giving states until October 16th to submit plans for how they will distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
  • During his testimony at a Congressional hearing, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the Fed’s commitment to use every tool at its disposal to help the economic recovery.
  • A new report from U.S. News & World Report and Aetna Foundation shows how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts already “unhealthy” communities.
  • Two randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials funded by the NIH are expanding enrollment to further evaluate convalescent plasma as a treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
  • An analysis by ECRI found that about 70 percent of KN95 masks manufactured in China fall below U.S. effectiveness standards.
  • Here is an article with background information on the seven vaccine candidates undergoing clinical trials in the U.S.