McDermottPlus Check-Up: May 7, 2021
McDermott+Consulting is pleased to provide the McDermottPlus Check-Up, your regular update on health care policy from Washington, DC.
This Week’s Dose
The Administration endorsed waiving intellectual property protections for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines and announced a new program that will reimburse providers for vaccine administration fees.
White House Announced Support for Waiving Vaccine Patent Protections. The Office of the US Trade Representative endorsed waiving patents and other intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to aide vaccine production worldwide. Many congressional Democrats have called on the Administration to help expand vaccine supply in other nations, but the Administration’s support of the waiver is sure to face substantial pushback from the pharmaceutical industry that argues it will harm competitiveness and strain the supply chain. The waiver will have to be unanimously approved by the World Trade Organization to take effect, but the Biden Administration’s position will likely put pressure on other countries to support the change. The President also announced this week that the White House will ship 60 million vaccine doses overseas within the next two months.
HHS and HRSA Launched New Program Covering Vaccine Administration Fees. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund (CAF), which will provide reimbursement for non-covered vaccine administration fees through the Provider Relief Fund. Providers can enroll in the CAF program on the HRSA website and submit uncovered claims for vaccines administered on or after December 14, 2020. Prior to submitting claims for reimbursement under the program, providers are required to bill the patient’s health plan and receive confirmation that vaccine administration is non-covered or includes patient cost sharing. The provider can then submit a claim to the CAF program to receive reimbursement at the national Medicare payment rate to cover the cost of the administration. More information is available in the program fact sheet and educational toolkit.
White House Announced Funds for Older Americans Programs. The Administration will allocate $1.4 billion, provided by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to programs aimed at increasing vaccination and providing family caregivers and other healthcare support to older Americans. The law directs $750 million for nutrition programs for seniors, $460 million for Home and Community Based Services, $44 million for health promotion and disease prevention programs, $145 million to support family caregivers and $10 million support state long-term care ombudsman, who advocate on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities. The Administration is expected to continue allocating funds provided by the ARP in the weeks ahead.
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee and the House Education and Labor Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee held hearings on legislation to lower prescription drug costs. The House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing on the Black maternal health crisis.
Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who championed surprise billing legislation passed at the end of last year, sent a letter to the Administration outlining their vision for its implementation.
HHS announced $1 billion aimed at increasing COVID-19 vaccinations and improving response efforts in rural communities.
Next Week’s Diagnosis
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the COVID-19 response. The Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees will hold hearings on improving mental health and addiction services. The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the President’s FY 2022 budget request for HHS.