Week in Washington: Coronavirus Latest

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: Coronavirus Latest

Latest Updates on Coronavirus

Numbers: As of writing this, US cases of coronavirus dramatically escalated relative to the prior week. Generally the number of cases is increasing about 33% per day in Europe and the United States.  Two good sources for tracking the numbers and locations include:

  • John Hopkins – which includes global numbers
  • COVID Tracker – which includes a state by state breakdown alongside number of tests


Tests: One of the difficulties in understanding the exact spread in the US, is the lack of testing. As of writing this only 11,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted, which is likely leading to an undercount of the number of individuals with the disease and will hamper mitigation efforts.  

System Risks: It’s important to separate out personal risk from systematic risk. Whatever the level of personal risk is, the concern at the moment surrounds systematic risk or the ability of the US healthcare system to handle the pandemic. There are a limited number of ICU beds, ventilators, and healthcare providers. If the virus infects more people than the system can handle, the result would be catastrophic. Aaron Carroll walks through some of the key pressure points in the US healthcare system and the risk the virus poses. In stark terms, the fatality rate is not fixed, it is very much influenced by the ability of the system to handle the influx of infected patients.  A recent presentation for the American Hospital Association paints a particularly bleak picture on potential outcomes

Coronavirus vs. Flu

Business Insider had a nice graphic comparing the mortality rates of the two diseases by age.




CMS guidance: CMS released guidance on coronavirus coverage for Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA. Given the rapidly changing situation, it is recommended to check back frequently with CMS or feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.

State Guidance: At least 25 states and DC have declared states of emergency. A number of those have waived cost-sharing for issuers under their purview for testing of the coronavirus.  Again, check with your DOI if you have questions on requirements or feel free to reach out to me. 

Non-Coronavirus Related News

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