Monday Roundup

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

STAT News offers a portrait of the COVID-19 virus at one year — what scientists know about how it spreads, infects, and sickens. Meanwhile, the AP provides its perspective on today’s first COVID-19 vaccinations, which should be view as a miracle as vaccines normally take at least four years to develop.

Healthcare Dive and Revcycle Intelligence discuss industry reaction to the bipartisan, bicameral surprise billing legislation introduced in Congress last week. The articles make it clear that neither providers nor payers are entirely happy with the legislation and that the legislators’ goal is to attach the bill to this week’s must pass omnibus spending bill (“the omnibus”). It could go.

A friend of the FEHBlog pointed out today another bill that could get attached to the omnibus. Last week the House passed H.R. 7898 which would permit HHS’s Office for Civil Rights to mitigate HIPAA fines and other remedies when the covered entity or business associate has adequately demonstrated that it “had, for not less than the previous 12 months, recognized security practices in place.” “The term ‘recognized security practices’ means the standards, guidelines, best practices, methodologies, procedures, and processes developed under section 2(c)(15) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act, the approaches promulgated under section 405(d) of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, and other programs and processes that address cybersecurity and that are developed, recognized, or promulgated through regulations under other statutory authorities. Such practices shall be determined by the covered entity or business associate, consistent with the HIPAA Security rule (part 160 of title 45 Code of Federal Regulations and subparts A and C of part 164 of such title).” That’s quite reasonable and equitable.

Bloomberg reports today that legislative work on the omnibus itself remains on track. Also the FEHBlog appreciated Bloomberg’s insights into the COVID-19 relief bill which would be the key measure to be attached to the omnibus. What better time than now for Christmas tree legislation” In any event, according to Bloomberg,

[U.S Senator John] Cornyn [R TX] said the $908 billion bipartisan proposal unveiled Monday isn’t likely to go forward by itself but will be used as jumping-off point for the leaders from both parties in both chambers. ”It’s having a positive influence on what will ultimately included,” Cornyn said of the bipartisan proposal. 

Forbes provides more background on the status of the COVID-19 relief legislation for those who are interested (as the FEHBlog is).

While the FEHBlog is a subscriber to the WSJ, Bloomberg and STAT News, among others, he does not subscribe to Modern Healthcare. That’s difficult at this time of year because he does get a kick out of their list of the 100 people who have most influence on U.S. healthcare. Fortunately, AHIP provided a list of their members’ executives who made the list. Congratulations to them.