Week in Washington: Latest on COVID-19

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Week in Washington: Latest on COVID-19

Another long week of news. Here’s a few highlights:

Congress Passes Stimulus Bill

  • You can find a good run down of the provisions here.
  • There’s about $180 bn in health spending. The vast majority of it ($100 bn) will go to hospitals/providers. It also increases funding for community health centers, telehealth, and public health agencies. Additionally, Medicare’s sequester was suspended from May 1 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. Hospitals that treat Medicare covid patients will get a 20% payment increase (the legislation provides a 20% add-on to the DRG rate for patients with COVID-19).
  • The remainder of the bill is an economic stimulus: aid to states, business loans/subsidies, increases in unemployment insurance (note UI is not counted in Medicaid/CHIP eligibility but it is counted towards APTC determinations), and $1,200 checks to many Americans.

Economic Worries: Unemployment numbers were released today, with a record 3.28 million Americans filing for unemployment. The seasonally adjusted number is the highest on record. The US has never experienced large unemployment increases since the ACA was passed so there is limited data on how enrollment patterns may change (i.e., changes in individual market or Medicaid enrollment) in a recessionary environment. 

CMS Releases Guidance

  • ACA – The Risk Adjustment (EDGE) data submission deadline was moved back about two weeks to May 14 and the release of risk adjustment results was also delayed two weeks to July 16.
  • Medicaid – CMS released guidance on the temporary FMAP increase and what states would need to do to receive the higher matching rate (no cost-sharing on treatment of COVID).
    • CMS also announced it has approved 11 1135 waivers for states in dealing with the crisis.
  • Medicare – CMS released a general telemedicine toolkit for the expanding ability of providers to use telehealth due to the pandemic.

State Action: State actions continue to ramp up in the attempts to address the COVID disease. KFF has a wonderful tracker to monitor what various states are doing. At this stage all but two states have some sort of order limiting commercial activity.  

Cost Estimates: Covered California released their estimates about the potential financial costs of the virus. They estimated that the one-year projected costs of COVID on the national commercial market will range from $34 billion to $251 billion. 

ACA 10-Year Anniversary: The ACA reached its 10th birthday this week. Happy birthday ACA.

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