Tuesday Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

On the COVID-19 vaccination front —

  • It turns out that, according to Precision Vaccinations, the Food and Drug Administration’s “Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held an out-of-schedule, emergency meeting to discuss various issues related to experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidates.” Rather than tackle the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine emergency use authorization request the Committee primarily considered vaccination allocation issues. “During the ACIP’s Phase 1a proposed allocation plan, healthcare workers and those seniors living in Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCF), and those working for these facilities, would be the 1# priority group for vaccinations. As of November 6, 2020, LTCF residents and staff accounted for 6 percent of COVID-19 cases and 39 percent of related fatalities in the USA.”
  • STAT News adds that “Essential workers are likely to move ahead of adults 65 and older and people with high-risk medical conditions when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signs off on Covid-19 vaccine priority lists, coming after health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities, a meeting of an expert advisory panel made clear Monday. * * * Essential workers include people who work in meat packing plants and other food processing facilities, in municipal wastewater management operations, and in transport. It also includes police and firefighters and, in the current iteration of the ACIP’s plan, teachers. The CDC estimates there are roughly 87 million people in jobs designated as essential services.”
  • Fierce Healthcare reports that “The U.S. federal government aims to distribute 6.4 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to states 24 hours after it gets emergency approval, and officials are in the midst of dry runs to prepare for the shipments, officials said Tuesday. The White House’s Operation Warp Speed, a joint initiative between the departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Defense that aims to distribute the vaccine, gave an update to reporters Tuesday on the initial allocations of a vaccine. The update comes as emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could come in the middle of December.”

MHealthIntelligence.com provides a helpful overview of the Stark, Anti-kickback Act changes rule.

According to Carrie Nixon, co-founder and managing partner of Nixon Gwilt Law, the  OIG’s Final Rule “gives healthcare providers and digital health companies more flexibility to enter into new business arrangements that incentivize care coordination and patient engagement as a means of improving outcomes and reducing the overall cost of care.”

“These new protections allow players in the digital health space – including Remote Patient Monitoring companies, telehealth companies, and healthcare predictive analytics platforms – to take on an unprecedented role in helping healthcare providers move the needle on patient outcomes and costs by providing in-kind and even monetary remuneration to these providers in the form of free or reduced cost items/services or shared savings arrangements,” she summarized in a recent article on her law firm’s website.

Deregulation is a very good thing. The FEHBlog prays that the Biden Administration does not back away from it.

The FEHBlog found OPM’s Fiscal Year 2020 Financial Report on its website today. Here’s a link.