Tuesday Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

The Wall Street Journal reports this evening that “President Biden said the U.S. would have enough Covid-19 vaccines for all American adults by the end of May, two months earlier than he had previously said, after regulators authorized the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Merck & Co. agreed to help produce it.” That is very encouraging news.

Politico reports that the President has agreed to comply with Neera Tanden’s request that he withdraw her nomination as Office of Management and Budget Director. “Biden’s statement indicated that he expects Tanden to serve in another role in his administration.”

And here are some tidbits for you —

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a future of telehealth hearing today. “It is critical to the health, safety and equitable access of our patients to ensure we can continue to provide telehealth services after the end of the public health emergency,” said Megan Mahoney, M.D., chief of staff at Stanford Health Care, who testified at the hearing.
  • Medpage Today reports that ” Insufficient evidence exists to support any strategy where patients either delay their second dose or only receive one dose of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines [Pfizer and Moderna], even if they have been previously infected with the virus, CDC staff told the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) at its Monday meeting. And ACIP committee members seemed to agree * * *.”
  • Fierce Pharma reports on two recent Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorizations of at home COVID-19 tests.
  • A friend of the FEHBlog pointed him to this STAT News article written by HHS Office of Inspector General Officials discussing the “importance of adding patients’ diagnoses to their prescriptions.” For example, [d]iagnosis information on prescriptions could help pharmacists identify safety issues,” and electronic prescription systems can accommodate diagnosis information.
  • CMS, which enforces the HIPAA electronic transaction rules, issued a factsheet on savings available to healthcare providers who use those electronic transactions. “According to data from the 2020 CAQH Index, 16% of medical plans and 36% of dental plans do not fully use electronic HIPAA standard transactions to conduct eligibility and benefits inquiries and responses. The CAQH Index estimates that medical and dental providers could save approximately $7 billion per year by completing eligibility and benefits checks using the HIPAA standard.” Health plans should share this information with their recalcitrant network providers.
  • Healthcare Dive informs us about four healthcare anti-trust issues to watch in 2021.
  • Health Payer Intelligence reports that “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is tackling maternal care disparities in its state by financially supporting community-based interventions that focus on increasing education among new mothers and providing in-person and digital support. ‘By taking a holistic approach to supporting prenatal care that considers the social and economic factors impacting the health of mothers and newborns, we are working to help create an environment that fosters access to affordable benefits, equitable care delivery and wherever possible, better health outcomes,’ said Anita Stewart, MD, medical director at BCBSIL.” Well done.

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