IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Administration Response
IMPAQ Health is continuously tracking updates on the coronavirus to bring the most relevant news to our readers. On March 18, President Trump signed Congress’ coronavirus relief package, to provide ten days of paid leave for some workers and up to twelve weeks of family and medical leave for many of those impacted by COVID-19. The Senate intends to f ollow up with their own legislation . To combat COVID-19, the White House declared a national emergency on March 13 to access $50 billion in relief funds, released guidelines that support social isolation to slow the spread, is developing a $1 trillion stimulus proposal to support the economy and directly send money to Americans, and is requesting almost $46 billion from Congress for federal agencies to respond. On March 18, the President invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up the production of needed supplies.
Here are some resources for following the latest coronavirus news:
  • Johns Hopkins developed a frequently updated worldwide map of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.

  • HealthAffairs launched a webpage compiling all of their content related to the coronavirus and pandemic responses.

  • The CDC provides guidelines and resources on an ongoing basis to help the public prepare and protect themselves and their families.

  • The Washington Post provides comprehensive live updates on the latest news relating to the coronavirus.

  • Statista is creating interesting data visualizations related to COVID-19, using data reported by countries around the world.
Over the past week, CMS has released several press releases detailing emergency actions they are taking to address the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
COVID-19: Beyond the Headlines
Coronavirus cases in the United States have grown at an exponential rate since the virus was first reported in the country two months ago. In order to slow the growth rate, public health officials are urging people across the country to practice “social distancing” by avoiding crowds and public spaces. In this article , researchers from the Washington Post visually simulate how social distancing can help slow the growth rate of COVID-19, compared to other techniques such as quarantine. Washington Post (3/14)
Ensuring Americans receive the medical care they need for COVID-19 testing and treatment involves a coordinated effort between the federal government, states, private health insurance companies, and self-insured employers. With deductibles for employer-sponsored health insurance coverage on the rise, many Americans could experience high cost sharing for any COVID-19 coverage they require. In this article , researchers from the Commonwealth Fund track actions that states have made in an effort to reduce the financial burden for privately-insured individuals, such as requiring insurers to cover COVID-19 testing at no cost.  Commonwealth Fund (3/18)
Health policy and medical experts convened to provide the following recommendations to quickly create additional hospital capacity: (1) form an internal rapid-response group; (2) evaluate and categorize patient caseload; (3) update procedures to expedite discharge; (4) perform urgent and elective surgeries on weekends; and (5) move to full-capacity protocol. Modern Healthcare (3/16)
Additional Eye-Catching Headlines
Within HHS, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information (ONC) and CMS published two final rules on EHR information exchange. The final rules establish new practices including the prevention of information blocking, sharing claims data with patients, secure data storage of patient health information, and more. Patients will be able to obtain and share this information if they change health insurance plans or providers, in order to inform their treatment and enhance care coordination over their lifetime. HHS (3/9)
This month marks the ten-year anniversary of the ACA’s enactment in 2010. Since then, we have seen many developments in the health care industry, such as shifts in coverage rates, forgone care due to costs, and health care delivery innovations, as depicted in this HealthAffairs datagraphic . NASHP compiled a timeline of coverage expansion , including the impact of state activities on ACA provisions. Their overall takeaway is that while the ACA created federal regulations, states have held the power to decide how the ACA will operate in their state. NASHP (3/17)
CMS announced a new Medicare pilot program to lower costs for insulin to $35, though participation by insulin manufacturers and insurers is voluntary. Officials expect that participating Medicare beneficiaries will be able to save an average of "$446 a year" through the program. Though up to 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries could benefit from the program, consumer advocates warn that large numbers of younger people are still suffering and dying without support. The New York Times (3/11)
Through a partnership with Aetna’s Guardian Angel program, CVS is broadening their Unite Us social care coordination platform to address opioid misuse as a social determinant of health. Aetna’s clinical care managers will use the platform to connect at-risk beneficiaries to social service providers after identifying them through pharmaceuticals claims data. These non-clinical supports that aid in recovery include assistance with housing, food insecurity, and financial assistance. CVS seeks to capitalize on the high engagement rate of Aetna’s Guardian Angel program to give people a better chance at recovery. Forbes (3/16)
Spotlight on IMPAQ
Does the lack of coverage of opioid alternatives encourage higher rates of opioid prescribing? In a new study published in JAMA Network Open , IMPAQ and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) researchers explore county-level data across 50 states to determine whether the structure of Medicare Part D formularies discourages use of safer opioid alternatives for pain relief.

The study was conducted by IMPAQ researchers Tanvi Rao, Zippora Kiptanui, Paul Dowell, Corey Triebwasser, Ilene Harris, and JHU coauthor Caleb Alexander, MD.
Graphic of the Week
Source: CDC
The CDC wants you to know: Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.
Health Policy - Upcoming Events, Trainings, Tools, & Webinars
March 20, 2020, 12:00 – 12:30pm ET
Session 3 - Leading through Crisis: Perspectives from Gov. Michael O. Leavitt will explore the tools available to policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels as they respond to the novel coronavirus. Register here .
Two complex-care management programs offer program and measurement approaches for high-need, high-cost populations. Leaders of both programs will share design, implementation and evaluation approaches for interventions. Register Here .
Speakers will present their accountable health models to improve community health and support health transformation efforts. They will highlight performance measurement strategies and financing options, including the development of new Medicaid payment strategies and cross-sector collaborations. Register Here .
NOTE: The information, analyses, and opinions expressed in the articles, publications, or comments contained therein are those of the authors and should not be considered verified or endorsed by IMPAQ or any of our partners or clients.
Phone: 443.259.5500 | Email: [email protected] |