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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Update

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03/16/2021

HBMA COVID-19 Federal Response Update

Congress

  • This week, the House of Representatives will consider legislation to waive the four percent Medicare cuts set to take effect in 2022 under the Congressional PAYGO requirement as a result of the American Rescue Plan adding $1.9 trillion to the federal deficit. The bill would also extend the delayed two percent Medicare sequestration cuts through the end of 2021. The current sequestration pause expires on April 1st.

White House and Federal Agencies

  • In a nationally televised address on the next phase of the COVID-19 response, President Biden said he will direct states to expand vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1st.
  • CMS is increasing Medicare payment rates for administering COVID-19 vaccines to $40 per administered dose.
  • The Biden Administration is preparing to issue new regulations to make CDC and OSHA COVID-19 workplace safety requirements mandatory for six months.
  • National Coordinator for Health IT Micky Tripathi said that his agency is exploring the concept of “vaccine passports” that can be used to authorize travel or access to certain businesses as the world re-opens.
  • NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci is encouraging people to continue practicing safety measures until vaccination numbers have increased.
  • The IRS began distributing the stimulus payments to individuals and families that were passed as part of the American Rescue Plan.
  • The American Rescue Plan expanded access to premium assistance subsidies for health insurance purchased on the federal exchange (healthcare.gov). The expanded subsidies will become available on April 1st.
  • President Biden will appoint Gene Sperling to oversee implementation of the ARP’s relief provisions. Sperling led the National Economic Council (NEC) in the Obama and Clinton Administrations.
  • The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) updated its website where it consolidates its COVID-19 resources.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Economy, Vaccine, Testing and Treatment

  • Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate was 89.7 percent effective in phase 3 clinical trials in the United Kingdom. Like other vaccines, it displayed reduced efficacy against certain COVID-19 variants.
  • Pfizer said a study of its vaccine in Israel found that its vaccine was 97 percent effective against symptomatic cases of COVID-19 and was 94 percent effective against asymptomatic cases.
  • The White House is preparing to launch a $1.5 billion advertising campaign to promote confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Johnson & Johnson said it expects to produce up to 3 billion doses of its COVID-19 in 2022.
  • Pfizer and Moderna are on pace to reach their vaccine production goals.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she does not see a significant risk of inflation due to the multiple COVID-19 relief bills passed by Congress since 2020.