Week in Washington: Waiting on Congress

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: Waiting on Congress


Overall Statistics

Overall infection rates continued to increase as well as the number of fatalities. In many areas of the country, for the first time since 1918, an infectious disease was the leading cause of death last week.

On-top of the pandemic, the economic impact of the virus and related policies, also continued to mount. The Federal Reserve estimates that the cumulative job losses through April 4 was approximately 18 million jobs. For context, that is about twice the number of jobs lost during the Great Recession.

One of the most concerning potential issues is the strain the economic downturn will have on state budgets. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimate that the shortfall, before taking into account increased costs as a result of COVID, may be in excess of $500 billion.

Congressional Actions

While Congress is still technically on recess, negotiations on COVID #4 continued. Senate democrats were pushing forward ideas of funding to increase testing. House Democrats were pushing ideas of subsidizing COBRA coverage among other ideas. Senate leader McConnell did stress that health issues should be included in the next COVID bill.

CBO released its estimates of the CARE Act. CBO estimates that about 2 million Medicare beneficiaries will be admitted with a diagnosis of COVID-19 during the national emergency declaration, of which about 1 million will be beneficiaries in traditional Medicare.

CMS Guidance

CMS clarified that the CARES ACT that required coverage for COVID related testing without cost-sharing included antibody tests.

CMS recently made some change to STARS due to the pandemic. Wakely analyzed the implications of changes here.

Long-Term Costs

The Washington Post had an article this week about potential long-term costs related to COVID. While it generally recognized that many of those recovering from COIVD suffer from lung damage, it’s emerging that additionally some of those infected by COVID are also suffering from long-term damage to their hearts, kidneys, and elsewhere. 

Previous editions: 

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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