March 26, 2020                                                                                                                                   Volume XI | Issue 13         
Hospitals get $100B in massive stimulus deal as facilities face COVID-19
Robert King
Fierce Healthcare

Hospitals and community health centers could get $130 billion as part of a $2 trillion economic stimulus package to help meet the skyrocketing increases of COVID-19 cases. Senate leaders announced the bipartisan deal early Wednesday morning and are expected to vote on it today. If ultimately passed, hospitals alone would get $100 billion to cover related expenses for meeting COVID-19 outbreak and for recouping lost revenue, according to a summary of the bill. Hospitals across the country have also lost revenue as most have canceled elective procedures. Hospital leaders on a call with reporters on Saturday said they are likely to miss payroll in a few weeks without help.
UnitedHealth Group Study Clears Path for Self-Administered COVID-19 Test
A study led by UnitedHealth Group Research & Development and OptumCare clinicians has demonstrated that a simple, self-collected test is as effective in identifying COVID-19 infections as the current clinician-collected test. Widespread adoption of this less invasive test will reduce exposure for health care workers and improve overall testing efficiency across the country. The study found tests using self-administered swab tests accurately detected COVID-19 in more than 90% of positive patients, which is consistent with the clinician-administered test. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated its guidance based on the UnitedHealth Group research, allowing patients nationwide to self-administer swab tests for COVID-19.



North Miami Beach Based Primary Care Group Practice Launches Telemedicine Platform 
CCMS-ACO, a Primary Care Group Virtual Practice based in North Miami Beach, launched its new telemedicine platform earlier this week. With the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis creating unprecedented demand for telemedicine services, this new option could not have come at a better time. The company provides HIPAA and HITECH compliant, online access to licensed clinicians. MDsOnDemand.com accepts Medicare, Medicaid, commercial insurance and credit cards. Cash pay patients can receive their initial consultation for $59.95; this price is reduced from $79.95 due to the crisis.
"Once the COVID-19 situation accelerated, we realized it was our duty to get this up and going as quickly as possible," states Mario Espino , CEO of CCMS-ACO. "Successful deployment of telemedicine services is critical in coping with the crisis," he adds. "Telemedicine keeps people out of busy medical facilities and contributes to the goal of social distancing."
Telemedicine has been a fast-growing industry for at least a decade, but it's always been held back by tradition and regulations. The government and other payers feared fraud and abuse. Practitioners feared out of state competition and patients often preferred the traditional face-to-face encounters. But now all of that has changed. The Trump administration on Tuesday, March 17 announced expanded telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries... 
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What We've Learned About the Novel Coronavirus So Far - And What We Still Need to Know 
As we approach the three-month mark since we all learned about a new virus triggering serious respiratory infections in China, the amount of information that's been gained about the new Coronavirus is staggering. In 2003, when SARS first emerged in China, it took weeks for laboratories to figure out what was causing new and sometimes deadly cases of pneumonia there and elsewhere. This time, rumors of a possible new coronavirus were reported in China at the end of December, roughly the same time the country alerted the World Health Organization that it had a dangerous outbreak on its hands. By Jan. 10, the full genetic sequence of the virus had been shared with scientists around the globe. The sharing of the sequence data has allowed countries around the world to ramp up testing for the virus, using laboratory-designed kits and scores of commercial tests now flooding the market. Those tests are critical to trying to lessen spread of the virus.

"The fact that so many tests are out there, the fact that there are so many testing platforms available now, is a remarkable success for science, for collaboration and for public-private partnership," Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's health emergencies program, marveled earlier this week.

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