From mergers and acquisitions to new CMS mandates, our team is always striving to keep on top of the latest and greatest of what’s happening in healthcare. At the same time, we constantly hear from our clients and partners that they are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of news stemming from B2B media, research firms and other sources across the industry.
Since we’re already doing this heavy lifting, we’ve decided to compile some of the most important insights we’ve sourced every month, making it easy for you to scan only the headlines that matter most. So in less time than it takes to grab a coffee, you can learn everything you need to know to stay on top of the latest healthcare happenings. Stay tuned for this ongoing series each month, which we’ll be delivering straight to your inbox soon!
New report from Moody’s gauges long-term financial effects of COVID-19 on health insurers
Analysis reveals the outlook is brightest for health plans able to adapt to the changing healthcare landscape amidst the pandemic—insurers leveraging telehealth to focus on chronic condition management and primary care being better positioned. While insurers have maintained strong financial performance even with lowered utilization in the first half of 2020, long-term success will be characterized by lower medical cost trends over the next 3-5 years.
Hospitals and health systems once again halting elective surgeries
In response to increased hospitalized COVID-19 patients, elective procedures are yet again delayed, canceled or suspended across 66 facilities across the US.
FDA and HHS assurance of expedited Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines
In a pivotal moment in the COVID-19 vaccine race, both Pfizer and Moderna announced vaccine candidates with greater than 90% effectiveness, followed by a statement by HHS Secretary Alex Azar that the FDA would work to remove “any unnecessary bureaucratic barriers” in an effort to expedite the vaccine’s availability to the public.
AstraZeneca cites up to 90% effectiveness of new COVID-19 vaccine
A lower-cost option as compared to Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine efficacy rates caused shares to fall. But the manufacturer argues that transportation and storage requirements make distribution easier, and the lower initial dose required allows for more vaccinations.
At-home, rapid COVID-19 test granted emergency use authorization by FDA
The single-use, nasal-swab diagnostic test is available by prescription only and authorized for use in a home setting by individuals age 14 and older suspected of COVID-19, as well as in point-of-care settings by medical providers to administer to patients of all ages.
HHS overhauls Stark and anti-kickback laws
Two new final rules enable easier entry for providers into value-based care arrangements, with HHS citing a greater focus on patient-centered, value-based care in the healthcare system. Revisions also grant added flexibility for medical equipment makers entering care coordination agreements involving digital health platforms.
Medicare Part D rebate safe harbor and Part B pricing rules finalized by HHS
HHS has removed the safe harbor for Part D rebates, which PBMs and payers say will negatively impact Medicare beneficiaries’ access to low-cost drugs. And in January of 2021, a proposed tax-saving measure dubbed the Most Favored Nation model will go into effect, which results in Medicare paying for Part B drugs based on the “lowest adjusted international price”.
Telehealth permanent for home health agencies per new CMS rule
Effective January 1, 2021, home health agencies can now provide Medicare beneficiaries with telehealth visits. Providers must also include remote patient monitoring and documented benefit of telehealth services on outcomes.
Into 2021, investors expect more digital health innovation and adoption
In a year that accelerated digital health with unprecedented speed, experts have cited COVID-19 as the catalyst for companies coming to market with innovative virtual care solutions, many met with high adoption rates. Technology in the coming year will center around telehealth enablement, including keeping individuals out of hospital settings, utilizing remote monitoring and direct-to-consumer pharmacy services.
Teladoc Health completes merger with Livongo
In the midst of a major uptick in virtual health due to COVID-19, the two largest publicly-traded telehealth companies wrapped up the $18.5B deal in just under three months.