Curated news for healthcare marketing thought leaders
Though the news cycle never truly slows, we’ve seen a shift in healthcare headlines over the last two months, especially with positive updates about vaccination rates and lower COVID-19 cases in the US. Most recently, spring has sprung and was marked with more M&A activity in the name of digital health expansion, a sign that virtual health trends amidst the pandemic are here to stay. Regulatory updates were also plentiful, with expanded ACA subsidies and increased flexibility for consumers to obtain health insurance through special enrollment periods; though previous administration pushes for drug pricing regulation remain stalled.
If you’re a healthcare marketing thought leader, you probably don’t have time to curate insights from all of the top B2B news sources. That’s why we continue to give you a quick take on the significant trends, regulatory happenings and industry shifts impacting health systems, health IT and payers.
Vaccinations up, COVID-19 cases down in US
For the first time since October, US COVID-19 cases have fallen. Meanwhile, nearly 150 million Americans have received at least one vaccine shot.
Mask recommendations revised for Americans
The CDC updated mask guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, namely for outdoor activities, and released revised recommendations for gatherings indoors, with groups of people who may or may not be fully vaccinated.
Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine administration resumes
Following a pause in administering the J&J vaccine due to risks of blood clots, the CDC and FDA announced all adults may move forward with receiving the shot.
Nearly 8% of people missed their second COVID-19 dose
After receiving the initial Pfizer or Moderna shot, the CDC states that over five million individuals skipped their second vaccine appointment due to fear of side effects or feeling that a single dose was adequate protection against the virus.
Hospital rating group Leapfrog recognizes achievements in COVID-19 safety measures
Twenty-seven hospitals were again awarded “A” ratings, having received these scores since 2012, when Leapfrog launched its report. This year, the focus of the ratings centered around COVID-19 safety procedures like infection control and prevention.
Two new COVID-19 home testing kits approved by FDA
Quidel and Eurofins both developed home tests that don’t require medical personnel to administer a nasal swab, and work similarly to a home pregnancy test.
LEGAL & REGULATORY NEWS
HHS’ information blocking ban will ensure easier access to patients’ digital health records
The 21st Century Cures Act is set to open doors for patients who previously could not easily access their health data, as well as enabling further innovation and competition among technology developers to advance digital health engagement.
ACA tax credits available per HHS announcement
For 2021 and 2022 plan years, consumers can obtain higher subsidies for Healthcare.gov plans via the American Rescue Plan Act. The law caps costs spent on marketplace plans at 8.5% of income for an individual making 400% above the federal poverty level.
Special enrollment period for ACA plans extended by CMS
As part of the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters, additional flexibility was granted to individuals to qualify for a special enrollment period to obtain health coverage. Additionally, consumers’ maximum out of pocket costs have been lowered by $400 for 2022.
American Families Plan outlined by Biden administration
The plan includes expanded ACA subsidies, including funding to lower premium costs for marketplace health plans, but did not lower the Medicare eligibility age or drug pricing reform.
Humana finalizes $4.1B acquisition of Kindred Healthcare
The deal includes acquisition of Curo Health Services by Humana and two PE firms, resulting in Humana taking 40% ownership in a home-health and hospice unit.
Microsoft set to acquire Nuance Communications for $19.7B
The software company expects the deal to be finalized by the end of the year, and will leverage Nuance’s artificial intelligence speech recognition technology to expand its healthcare offerings, including speech transcription.
Anthem, K Health and Blackstone joint venture for digital health offering
Anthem is now providing virtual and digital primary care to its members and other customers through “Hydrogen Health”, offered as a standalone tool or as part of its health plans.