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Focus On COVID-19

Biden Will Invoke DPA To Boost Vaccine Supply, Scale Vaccination Sites

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday (Jan. 15) outlined his plan to expand the availability of and access to COVID-19 vaccines by releasing most of the available doses in reserve, invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure there’s a robust supply, expanding vaccine eligibility to people ages 65 and over, and standing up more vaccination centers across the country and launching mobile vaccination clinics.

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CMS estimates that Medicare Advantage plans will get more than 4% more in 2022 than they receive this year -- an increase of more than 1.25% compared to the rate in the advanced notice CMS released in October.

CMS largely dismissed providers and plans’ concerns that its proposal to ease prior authorization hurdles for patients would impose regulatory burdens on the industry, and it moved ahead to finalize the rule Friday (Jan. 15), less than nine business days after comments were due.

In two years, seniors will be able to compare out-of-pocket costs for drugs, and starting next year, Medicare Advantage and drug plans may create an additional “preferred” specialty tier and plans will be required to disclose pharmacy-performance measures.

New Hampshire is failing to provide adequate home- and community-based services to Medicaid beneficiaries through the state’s Choices for Independence waiver, alleges a class-action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for New Hampshire on Monday (Jan. 11).

HHS is exempting physicians from certain certification requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, the department announced Thursday (Jan. 14).

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is pausing political donations to Republicans who voted against certifying the presidential election.

Advocates for lower drug prices say the Commerce Department’s eleventh-hour proposal to prohibit the government from using high prices as a reason to license third parties to make drugs and vaccines developed with federal funding is a give-away to the drug industry.

Drug makers hiked net prices on seven drugs, without clinical evidence to support their higher prices, that cost taxpayers an additional $1.2 B in 2019, according to the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review.