- The Biden administration is starting out in lockstep with every sector of the healthcare industry: All agree that the top priority must be addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A coalition of healthcare groups and others sued HHS March 9 over a Trump administration rule. The lawsuit alleges that thousands of HHS regulations could disappear because of the Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely, or SUNSET, rule.
- Some people suffering from long-term COVID-19 have found significant symptom relief after the first dose of their vaccine.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.
1. Biden administration well-aligned with all sectors of the industry
Modern Healthcare reported March 6, “The Biden administration is starting out in lockstep with every sector of the healthcare industry: All agree that the top priority must be addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and every other issue is a distant second.”
Author Lola Butcher wrote, “Major stakeholder groups also share the main goal of President Joe Biden’s healthcare plan of increasing insurance coverage.”
“We are feeling encouraged in these early days with an administration that cares deeply about affordable quality coverage and care for all,” said Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans.
Several industry groups are working together around the idea of expanding coverage. “In February, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and some other large groups created the Affordable Coverage Coalition,” wrote Butcher. “Its goal is to achieve universal health coverage through several steps, including enhancing Affordable Care Act premium subsidies and providing incentives for more states to expand Medicaid.”
The article also notes that:
- Biden’s strategy to decrease the uninsured rate of roughly 10% has been to revitalize the ACA.
- He seeks to make it easier for low-income individuals to access Medicaid coverage.
- He will likely face resistance to creating a public option that would allow people to buy into Medicare and reducing the age of Medicare eligibility to 60.
- The administration is considering how to address telehealth, drug prices and healthcare industry workforce development.
2. Why thousands of HHS regulations may be in peril
A Becker’s Hospital Review article published March 10 reported, “A coalition of health groups and others sued HHS March 9 over a Trump administration rule that was finalized the day before President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“The lawsuit, pending in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, alleges that thousands of HHS regulations could disappear because of the Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely, or SUNSET, rule. The rule requires HHS to review its existing 18,000 regulations within several years. If the review isn’t completed, the rule automatically expires, according to NPR.”
The lawsuit also states, “If the Rule takes effect, it will require substantial, and likely unachievable, efforts on the part of HHS to prevent regulations from expiring. The resulting cost to society is steep.”
Ayla Ellison, Becker’s editor-in-chief, also wrote, “The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the rule is arbitrary and capricious and to vacate it.
“The plaintiffs are Santa Clara County, Calif., the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the American Lung Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the California Tribal Families Coalition and the Natural Resources Defense Council.”
3. Anecdotal reports: COVID-19 vaccine helps alleviate COVID long-haulers’ symptoms
A March 4 MedPage Today article reports, “Some people suffering from long COVID have found significant symptom relief after the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine, though the jury’s still out as to whether that’s the case for the majority of so-called long-haulers.
“Last week, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay tweeted that she felt significantly better after her first vaccine dose.”
While Gay said her report was both “anecdotal and early,” apparently several people commenting or responding to Gay’s tweet said “they too, had significant symptom relief after their first dose … ” wrote Medpage Today’s Kristina Fiore.
“There are no definitive data on what percentage of long COVID patients may experience such relief, how long it lasts, or even if the effect is real,” the article continues. “But the scientific community has indeed taken an interest, and some have even suggested the possibility of prospective studies.”
Bonus HFMA content
In the latest “Voices in Healthcare Finance” podcast episode, HFMA President and CEO Joe Fifer interviews Zeev Neuwirth, MD, about the dangers of fee-for-service and how every stakeholder has a responsibility to move the industry forward. Neuwirth is the author of “Reframing Healthcare: A Roadmap for Creating Disruptive Change” and produces and hosts the popular podcast series “Creating a New Healthcare.” He is currently serving as Atrium Health’s senior medical director of population health.