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Week in Washington
Congress was back this week after being off from Easter recess. One of the main topics being discussed is the possibility of pushing through health care related legislation, whether its insulin or ARP related subsidy continuation. The general consensus is that neither is particularly close to a vote let alone passage. The Washington Post suggested legislation that might include ARP subsidy continuation would not be ready until right before Memorial Day if not before the July 4th recess. This would mean passage of such legislation would not likely be until June if not later. More generally, there is growing pessimism that something will pass. One complicating factor is that Covid cases have hit several US Senators and as long as they as out with Covid, Senate democrats lack sufficient votes to pass legislation.
CMS released the final 2023 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters that primarily affects 2023 rates for ACA compliant individual and small group plans. Generally, the 2023 Payment Notice finalized what was initially proposed.
The American Hospital Association released a report that 33% of facilities are operating on negative margins. Hospital margins are being hurt by higher input costs (i.e., labor). Several researchers, including the National Health Expenditures, noted that these pressures could lead to higher provider prices for purchasers this year and next year. It could also lead to more pressure on legislators to avoid sequestration increases which are still scheduled to increase in 2023.
US GDP contracted in the first quarter of 2022 (-1.4% at an annual rate) driven by decreases in inventory and higher exports. While this report actually shows demand is still high in the US, there are other worrying signs of potential recession in the next year.
Covid news this week:
- The CDC released a report that estimated about 60% of Americans have had Covid since the pandemic started, including about 75% of children.
- Moderna officially filed for vaccine approval from the FDA for children under age 6. The FDA plans to publish a tentative timeline next week on reviewing the vaccine.
- Covid cases and hospitalizations continued to increase this week. One complicating factor in tracking Covid transmission is that a survey indicates most people are being identified as Covid positive through at home tests, which are not in turn being included in official statistics.
- The Biden Administration is pushing to increase the use of paxlovid, the Covid treatment pill. In particular, it will double the number of locations where the drug is available, including increasing the number of test to treat sites. The number of weekly prescription being given has doubled over the last month, to 55,000 a week, according to the White House.
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