On the COVID front —
- Forbes reports on a new Centers for Disease Control analysis confirming that the disease has hit racial minority and ethnic groups, the elderly, and people with multiple chronic conditions harder than others. Also “Incidence was highest among people 80 and older (902 cases per 100,000), while it was lowest among children 9 and younger (51), but surprisingly people between the ages of 40 to 59 saw higher incidence (between 541 and 550) than people between 60 and 79 (478 and 464).”
- The Department of Health and Human Services has posted a fact sheet on its Operation Warp Speed which “aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (collectively known as countermeasures).”
- The FEHBlog also ran across the Food and Drug Administration’s COVID-19 resources website. Check it out.
The Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee held a telehealth hearing today. Healthcare IT news reports on the hearing. “HELP Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., advocated for two particular policy changes to be made permanent: the originating site rule, allowing physicians to be reimbursed for telehealth appointments wherever a patient is located, including a patient’s home, and the expansion of Medicare- and Medicaid-reimbursable telehealth services.” Also Health Payer Intelligence identifies three telehealth challenges for payers one of which is on Sen. Alexander’s short list: “Discerning how to provide coverage for many different sites of care and for various types of telehealth technologies as well as complying with state and federal regulatory barriers can put a damper on the telehealth boom.”
Fierce Healthcare reports that two Northeastern Blue Cross licenses Highmark and HealthNow have announced a merger. “[upper New York State’s]”HealthNow will bring nearly 1 million additional members into the [central Pennsylvania based] Highmark fold and boasted $2.8 billion in revenue for 2019. It will join the fourth largest Blues organization in the country, building on Highmark’s 5.6 million members and $18 billion in operating revenue for 2019.” The affiliation agreement is subject to regulatory approval.