HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Democrats Seek Unity on Medicare Expansion



Democratic leaders are forging ahead with plans to expand America’s two huge public health insurance programs, though their base has yet to come together on how to do so.

Home Budget Chair Jean Yarmut (D-Ky.) Told reporters he was not sure there was broad support in his own party to lower the age of eligibility for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people. people with disabilities and people 65 years of age or older. Democrats are considering the provision as part of major legislation designed to build on a budget bill this year.

“This has about 75% support in the caucus,” he said, adding that he was preparing a budget reconciliation package for the coming weeks.

Democratic leaders see the budget bill as a way to push through their party’s top priorities without relying on Republican support. Failure to come to an agreement on health priorities could leave Democrats with no major wins to bring to their constituents before the midterms of next year.

House of Energy and Commerce Chair Franck Pallone (DN.J.) said his panel is developing a bill to extend “guaranteed coverage” to people in 12 states that have not decided to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. . “I want to provide coverage for people who are in red states that haven’t expanded,” Pallone said of coverage from Medicaid, federal health insurance for low-income people.

Pallone declined to provide details. Some Democrats in the 12 recalcitrant states are proposing a new level of the ACA market plan, or federally administered insurance, available to people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for grants for the Medicaid. private insurance. Others suggest allowing counties or cities to expand access within their borders, a move that could help large population centers.

One of the main concerns about using the budget process to extend insurance to those who find themselves in this “Medicaid gap” is a potential limit on the length of coverage, the representative said. Colin Allred (D-Texas) said. “I don’t know how we could get something in the long run, but we’re trying to be creative,” Allred said. “This pandemic has highlighted the need to give people cover. Alex Ruoff has more.

The coronavirus pandemic

The United States sends response teams to combat the Delta strain: The Biden administration is sending response teams to unvaccinated pockets across the United States to try and control the spread of the highly transmissible variant of the delta coronavirus. U.S. health officials will step up testing, provide treatment and deploy federal personnel where needed and requested, said Jeffrey Zients, Biden’s Covid-19 czar. Staff will come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Read more from Fiona Rutherford.

J&J Covid Shot neutralizes the Delta variant: Johnson & Johnson said its single-injection coronavirus vaccine neutralizes the rapidly spreading delta variant and provides long-lasting protection against infection more broadly. The company said in a statement yesterday that recipients of its vaccine have produced strong neutralizing antibodies over at least eight months against all variants, including delta, which was first seen in India and is spread around the world. Read more from Riley Griffin.

The CureVac vaccine outperforms its rivals in terms of efficacy at 48%: CureVac said its mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine provides comprehensive protection against hospitalization and death for people under the age of 60, although its overall effectiveness is lower than similar vaccines already in use in the world. The German drug maker said on Wednesday evening that the vaccine was 48% effective in preventing diseases of all severities, well behind the over 90% effectiveness rates shown by mRNA injections from Pfizer and Moderna, report Timothy Annett and Tim Loh.

Wuhan virus center targeted in house funding bill: The House Appropriations Committee voted 32-25 yesterday to advance its state and foreign operations bill for fiscal year 2022. Homeowners agreed by voice vote to add a measure to ban federal funds at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which studies coronaviruses and which some experts believe may have played a role in the origin of the pandemic. It was added to the manager’s amendment comprising a series of measures considered to be bipartite. representative Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) Takes credit for adding the proposal to the director’s amendment. Read more from Jack Fitzpatrick.

  • The Senate passed a similar provision in May with its US-China Competitiveness Bill (S. 1260). The National Institutes of Health has given grants in the past to researchers who have worked with the Wuhan institute, but not the institute itself. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci told senators earlier this year that they were conducting research in China because that’s where these diseases often originate, reports Alex Ruoff.

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What else to know

The first rule on “surprise” billing explains how hospitals are paid: The first regulation to implement a law prohibiting hospitals and doctors from charging for sending high bills to patients in emergencies and other situations was released yesterday by the Biden administration. The interim final rule specifies how tariffs will be calculated to determine which providers should be paid.

The No Surprises Law, passed as part of the Credit Legislation (Public Law 116-260) in December 2020, prohibits healthcare providers from charging patients more than what would be paid for network services in the event of a loss. emergency or other circumstances when off-grid clinicians are used. Read more from Sara Hansard.

Drug Pricing Group Drops Ads Targeting Bennet: Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, an advocacy group to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, has announced it is pulling ads in Colorado intended to pressure Sen. Michel Bennet (D) to support legislation in the finance committee. The group said they spoke with Bennet’s office and “clarified their position on drug pricing legislation.” He still plays commercials against three others on the panel: Sens. Bob casey (D-Pa.), Robert menendez (DN.J.), and Tom carper (D-Del.).

The health information technology agency shares patient data with social services: Federal regulators are tackling information walls between health care providers and the social service sector as part of their efforts to reduce health disparities, senior official Micky Tripathi said yesterday. of the country’s health informatics. Linking health care providers with social service organizations through health information technology will allow patients to receive more holistic care and enable better interventions to address social issues that can lead to poor health outcomes. health, said Tripathi, head of the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, or ONC, which is part of HHS. Read more from Christopher Brown.

Carcinogens still confuse the pharmaceutical industry after recalls: Years after millions of high blood pressure pills were recalled because they contained potentially carcinogenic chemicals, US regulators are still grappling with limiting contaminants that continue to end up in tainted drugs. A group of chemists, toxicologists, and Food and Drug Administration analytical lab staff have been meeting regularly since 2018 to learn how nitrosamines get into drugs and how to get rid of them. But that goal has proven elusive, reports Anna Edney.

Dialysis Centers To See Slim Boost In Medicare Payments: Medicare payments to stand-alone dialysis centers will increase 1.2% in 2022, while hospitals will see a 1.3% increase in payments, according to a payment rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Collectively, the salary increases will add about $ 140 million to Medicare’s total dialysis spending, the CMS estimates. Read more from Tony Pugh.

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Note on the publication: The Bloomberg government’s health care briefing will not be released on Monday, July 5, the Federal Independence Day holiday. We will resume publication on Tuesday July 6.

With the help of Alex Ruoff

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon lee in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Zachary Sherwood at [email protected]; Giuseppe Macri at [email protected]; Michaela ross at [email protected]



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