Week in Washington 5142020

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


Current Outlook

As Scott Gottlieb noted, this past week saw a marked improvement in several US COVID metrics including testing, cases, number of deaths, and percent of positive tests.


That said, while the national picture has improved, even holding constant improvements in the Tristate area, there is still a good deal of variation at the state level. Some states have seen dramatic improvements, some states’ metrics have been flat, and some states have seen conditions degrade. Two very helpful links that monitor how a state is doing:

One question I’ve been seeing is the disconnect between states reopening and new cases. The first is that state policies and individual reactions to them are fairly nuanced. One state’s “open policy” can often be much more strict than another state’s “stay at home order”. The other is that COVID cases (and deaths) lag changes in environment by at least 7-14 days. In other words, what the effects of a particular environment is on the infection rate can take several weeks before it shows up in the data.  


House Democrats released an expansive bill designed to address the ongoing pandemic. Included in the bill was increased Medicaid money for states, direct money for states, funds for providers, and funding for testing. The bill did not include any funds for insurers but did include a requirement that Medicaid, Medicare, and Commercial insurers impose no cost sharing on enrollees for COVID treatment. The bill is expected to be voted on this week or next but is not expected to pass the Senate.


Unemployment numbers continued to be staggeringly high. This week another 3 million Americans filed for unemployment. Approximately 36.5 million individuals have filed for unemployment since the pandemic started.

KFF estimates that about 26.8 million people lost job-based coverage. The estimate is that almost half of those that lost coverage would be eligible for Medicaid. 


  • CMS released the final 2021 Payment Notice.  There were no major changes from the proposed rule with the notable exception that CMS did not implement its idea to restrict auto enrollment.
  • Vermont released proposed 2021 individual market rates. The two carriers had different takes on the impact of COVID on the 2021 market.

Random Pick Me Up

200 Goats Escape and roam the streets in San Jose

Previous editions: 

5/7/2020: Week in Washington

4/30/2020: News on the Last Week in April

4/23/2020: Week in Washington

4/16/2020: Waiting on Congress



4/9/2020: Week in Washington

4/2/2020: Grim News

3/26/2020: Latest on COVID-19

3/19/2020: Latest on the Coronavirus

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