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 and related items dominated the headlines. It would be difficult not to be hyperbolic as some of the best news and worst news came out this week since the pandemic began.
There was a series of good news this week on vaccines. A more concrete potential was released by the Federal government. The NY Times has a good run down here, but generally, the FDA will decide on the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine on December 10th and 17th, respectively. If both are approved, the expectation is that there will be enough vaccine doses for 20 million Americans by the end of the year. Health care workers and nursing home residents will be among the first to get it. In 2021 the expectation is that production will ramp up over time with those over 65 that have chronic conditions or are essential workers to be in the second tier of those eligible for the vaccine. Healthier individuals under 65 are not expected to have access to the vaccine until April. By June, the goal is to have 600 million doses available. The NY Times also has an estimated assessment for when you might be eligible for a vaccine.
Covid cases, hospitalization numbers, and death tolls hit all-time highs this week. There is growing evidence that due to the increase in covid cases that other services are being crowded out as well as less severe COVID cases that previously would have received hospital attention. Generally, all metrics are expected to dramatically worsen this month.
Health Spending Trends
Kaiser Family Foundation released new data on health spending in 2020. Their most recent data, as of the third quarter, found that health services spending is down about 2% (if you include prescription drug spending, it’s down about 0.5% on an annualized basis).
Congress continues to grapple with a potential COVID stimulus as well as a spending deal. Congress must pass an appropriation bill before December 10, or the government would shut down.
CMS released its annual proposed Payment Notice that included a number of important changes, including changes to FFE and SBE user fees, changes to the risk adjustment model, and most importantly, allowing states to have Exchanges that do not have their own enrollment portal.
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