Week in Washington 102220

Week in Washington is brought to you by Michael Cohen, PhD. Tune in each week to read the latest on healthcare policy and get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon.

Week in Washington


COVID Cases and Hospitalizations Accelerate


The past week saw dramatic increases in COVID numbers. As of Thursday, in the past week, the average number of new cases increased by 12%, new deaths rose 12%, and covid-related hospitalizations rose 9%. The situation appears especially dire in the Midwest, where deaths are up 64% since the start of the month. Overall, COVID is currently the third leading cause of death in the US.

On the bright side, NPR reported about the drop in mortality among hospitalized patients. In particular, mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points, controlling for age, underlying conditions, and racial group. The study found that those hospitalized with COVID now have about a 7.6% chance of dying

COVID and Outpatient data

Analysis sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund found that visits to ambulatory providers have returned to pre-pandemic levels, although significant differences among specialists and ages remain. For example, in October, visits in adult primary care were above pre-pandemic levels while visits for cardiology and pulmonology were still below pre-pandemic levels.

Congress – stimulus/SCOTUS

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move forward the nomination of Amy Comey Barrett to the full Senate. The Senate is expected to approve of the nominee early next week (potentially as soon as Monday). The Senate is expected to join the House on recess after the approval, with little expectation of COVID stimulus passing before the election.

ACA Benchmark Data

CMS released 2021 premium data for the individual market (Healthcare.gov states). Overall, CMS found that the second-lowest cost silver plan (Benchmark) plan decreased 2% from plan year 2020 to plan year 2021.

How Many Physicians Have Opted-Out of Medicare Opt Outs

Analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation found that 1% of all non-pediatric physicians have formally opted-out of Medicare. Of those who opted out, psychiatrists account for the largest share (42%) of those who opted out.

Previous editions: 

10/15/2020: Week in Washington

10/08/2020: Week in Washington

10//01/2020: Week in Washington

09/24/2020: Week in Washington


09/17/2020: Week in Washington

09/10/2020: Week in Washington

09/03/2020: Week in Washington

08/27/2020: Week in Washington

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