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Week in Washington
One of the more prominent trends this week in COVID news is the level of regionalization in the outbreak. While obvious, outbreak levels and trends have significant divergent across states and across regions. The NY TIMES has a wonderful city by city tracker, while 538’s Nate Silver has interesting analysis as to which state trends are more positive and which are more troubling.
The economic news was also grim this week. An additional 4.4 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance last week, pushing the total since the start of the virus to 26 million. Unofficial estimates of unemployment stand around 18%. One survey reported that about 33% of voters as either losing their job, being furloughed, or having reduced hours. In other words, the income effects are far larger than the unemployment numbers.
State Policy Changes
Several states are beginning to ease social distancing policies. KFF has a tracker as to which states are doing what here.
KFF also a fantastic tracker on Medicaid waivers. The vast majority of states have made some changes to their programs via waiver since the pandemic began.
CMS released several pieces of important regulatory and sub-regulatory guidance this week.
- CMS released guidance on the allocation of hospital funding as part of the CARES Act. As part of the funding, CMS will potentially pay hospital costs for treating the uninsured for COVID.
- CMS announced enforcement discretion in terms of the implementation of many interoperability rules.
- CMS also announced greater flexibilities for plans in regard to prior authorization and utilization management.
The Commonwealth Fund released a study on the decline in outpatient usage and the increase in telemedicine. The report includes regional information, which to date has been lacking.
The Department of Labor’s March jobs report showed nearly 43,000 health positions were lost. According to Politico that was the health sector’s worst month in at least 30 years.
Washington Post had a good summary that COVID can cause severe blood clotting, even amongst individuals who are asymptomatic. Often times autopsies are finding micro-clots in the deceased. As more is known about the disease, this could change treatment patterns.
4/16/2020: Waiting on Congress
4/9/2020: Week in Washington
4/2/2020: Grim News
3/26/2020: Latest on COVID-19