This month, a new White House administration drove new healthcare headlines and spurred more regulatory changes. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make the news with rising amounts of vaccine doses being administered, despite some concerns about lack of planning delaying mass distribution. Finally, the first few weeks of this new year reinforced that healthcare M&A activity shows no sign of slowing in 2021.
Read on for a recap of the important stories you may have missed this month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recorded over 48 million distributed doses of the coronavirus vaccine and more than 26 million administered doses.
The distribution model outlined by Operation Warp Speed is posing challenges for various healthcare delivery organizations due to lack of early notice of quantities shipped by the federal government.
The proposed relief measure is intended to provide additional stimulus checks to most Americans, cover many of the costs of responding to the virus, as well as extend and enhance jobless benefits.
Just before inauguration day, President Biden released a strategy for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic that includes plans for expanded access to vaccinations, mask wearing, improved data collection and guidance on returning to school and workplaces.
LEGAL & REGULATORY NEWS
The organization is requiring all Part D plans to offer real-time, cost and benefit comparison tools for members starting January 1, 2023. The rule is estimated to result in $75 million in savings over 10 years.
CMS has been consistently lowering user fees since 2018, having decreased premiums by 8%. Qualified ACA health plans and state-based exchanges using HealthCare.gov will see fees lowered in 2022.
Medicare Advantage plans are ranked on a quality scale of one to five stars by CMS. The agency outlined the 30 measures that will be used in calculating 2022 Star Ratings for these plans.
This month, a rule that intends to speed Medicare coverage for newly FDA-approved medical devices, aiming to help seniors and remove barriers for medical technology innovators, was finalized.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating how physician group acquisitions impact competition and the marketplace, and ordered patient-level claims data from Aetna, Anthem, Cigna and others.
President Biden’s White House Chief of Staff ordered a freeze on pending or new rules issued by the Trump administration until the Biden administration reviews them, three of which CMS has withdrawn. These include changes to Medicare Part A enrollment, coverage requirements for dialysis and greater oversight of accrediting organizations.
With an average 4.2% jump, GoodRx found 589 drugs increased in price in the first month of 2021. Manufacturers raise drug prices each year in January and July.
Increased wholesale drug costs resulted in higher insurance payments and patient out-of-pocket costs, according to an analysis of six years of commercial and employer pharmaceutical claims.
Health Affairs study finds a $6.4 million reduction in mean hospital costs associated with expanded Medicaid coverage in certain states.
The multi-billion dollar transaction would mark one of the country’s most robust behavioral health platforms.
Change Healthcare will join UnitedHealth Group’s OptumInsight business unit to enhance its core clinical, administrative and payment processes by providing software, data analytics, research and revenue cycle offerings.
In light of COVID-19 with many retail pharmacies hit hard by the pandemic, Walgreens stated the deal will allow for more focus on its core retail pharmacy business.
The company announced it will cease its operations at the end of February. The joint venture was formed in January 2018 with the aim to innovate the healthcare delivery system.
The app that provides online therapy to users over text or video will be the first behavioral health company to be publicly traded once the transaction closes.