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Focus On COVID-19

CMS To Cite Nursing Homes Refusing Visits, Beneficiary Advocates Agree

CMS Administrator Seema Verma warned in an op-ed earlier this month that nursing homes restricting visitors without a reasonable health or safety reason will face citations, after the agency issued guidance telling nursing homes to again allow visitation.

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The Senate put off until Tuesday (Sept. 22) its vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government through Dec. 11 and extend funding for several Medicare and Medicaid programs, among other health care riders.

The average monthly Medicare Advantage premium is expected to drop by just under $3.00 in 2021 compared to this year, CMS said Thursday (Sept. 24), coming to $21.00 per month.

Drug industry executives are scheduled to testify on drug pricing practices over two days at a House Oversight Committee hearing next week, following an 18-month committee probe into price increases, executive compensation and patent strategies.

The nonprofit generic drug maker Civica Rx says the U.S. government could curb drug shortages by funding new U.S. manufacturing processes, giving drug makers tax credits to make drugs and ingredients domestically, creating a list of critical drugs with production targets, and setting up a privately run drug stockpile.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening (Sept. 23) asserted that FDA’s reported efforts to develop stricter emergency use authorization criteria for COVID-19 vaccines seems like a political move, and he said the White House will review any criteria the agency develops.

CMS on Wednesday (Sept. 23) issued a call for providers, schools and communities to work together and help kids access care after preliminary data showed a big drop in the services that children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program accessed in the spring, compared with 2019.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called for Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui to resign or be fired from that position, a day after the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus released financial documents that the subcommittee said raise questions about Slaoui’s investments in GlaxoSmithKline, which is working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine under the government’s initiative.

The House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee will hold a hearing on Sept. 30 to hear from scientists and public health experts on what criteria they think COVID-19 vaccines should be required to meet before being approved or authorized by FDA for distribution in the United States, the subcommittee announced Wednesday (Sept. 23).

The Department of Homeland Security will resume implementing its controversial public charge rule nationwide, including applying it retroactively, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a stay on the rule in three states can be lifted.

HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir tried to assure senators Wednesday (Sept. 23) that HHS’ decision to require all health agency rules to be formally signed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar will not interrupt agencies’ rulemaking processes.