IMPAQ Health News
From our experts to your inbox. Every two weeks.
In this edition, learn about racial and ethnic health disparities, COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the expansion of telehealth, and original COVID-19 coverage from IMPAQ experts, including a new post on how changes highlighted in the ACA Payment Notice may impact health coverage for vulnerable populations .
IMPAQ Health researchers developed a publicly available dashboard for exploring the latest updates in the vast COVID-19 clinical trials landscape. Led by pharmacists Dr. Sanchari Ghosh and Zippora Kiptanui, the team compiled publicly available clinical trials data into an easy-to-use Tableau dashboard to help researchers, doctors, and others sort through and analyze the growing list of more than 2,500 COVID-19 clinical trials.
As the coronavirus continues to break national and global infection records , diagnostic labs face increased demand and delayed testing results while hospitals deal with supply and workforce capacity issues . According to data from the CDC, the true number of coronavirus cases in the US could be six to 24 times higher than official figures. New research suggests that face masks can help prevent transmission and that children between the ages of 10 and 19 are spreading the virus just as much as adults. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has unveiled a new website of COVID-19 hospitalization data following its decision to take over the compilation and reporting of data previously managed by the CDC. Additionally, HHS has announced billions in additional funding to hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots and safety net and rural hospitals that care for vulnerable populations.
Here are some resources for following the latest efforts to address COVID-19:
  • Kaiser Family Foundation published national and state-level data on mental health before and after the coronavirus pandemic in its Mental Health and Substance Use State Fact Sheets.

  • Johns Hopkins developed a frequently updated worldwide map of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.

  • The New York Times compiled a detailed map indicating mask wearing frequency across the US.

  • Health Affairs outlined how NYC Health + Hospitals confronted difficult decisions in its ongoing pandemic response to serve as a guide for other health systems combating the pandemic.
COVID-19 Amplifies Racial and Ethnic Health Inequities across the Country
The study, conducted by ABC News, FiveThirtyEight and ABC-owned television stations, reveals that COVID-19 testing sites in communities of color face higher demand than those in whiter or wealthier areas of the same city. Study findings conclude that where one lives significantly impacts access to COVID-19 testing. FiveThirtyEight (7/22)
The racial disparities of COVID-19 have been well-established through recent federal data. In this Health Affairs article, the authors recommend that public health resources, such as testing, contact tracing, and funding that supports people’s ability to quarantine, should be targeted towards minorities to reduce these disparities in the short-term. Additionally, officials should prepare for the second surge in infections, pursue equitable treatment and vaccine distribution, and invest in public health and social determinants of health to address the structural disparities in the US health care system. Health Affairs (7/20)
According to an analysis by the Asian American Research Center on Health, Asian Americans in the City and County of San Francisco account for 13.7% of COVID-19 cases but 52% of all deaths. Health Affairs (7/13)
COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments
In the first published data from Moderna’s clinical trials, the company indicates that its COVID-19 vaccine led patients to produce antibodies that can neutralize the virus with minor side effects. Moderna plans to launch Phase 3 with 30,000 patients in late July. STAT News (7/14)

  • Moderna and 23 other vaccines are currently in clinical trials, according to the World Health Organization. Candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Oxford University, and CanSino Biologics have also performed well in safety trials. Later phases with substantially larger sample sizes will inform which vaccines can effectively trigger a patient’s immune response to the coronavirus. Axios (7/21)
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the Serum Institute of India, a large vaccine manufacturer, has been working with coronavirus vaccine developers to plan for mass production and distribution. Poonawalla hopes that the global pandemic will create an opportunity to reassess patent and intellectual property laws that can limit access to immunizations in the developing world while hiking up the prices in wealthier nations. Politico (7/19)
COVID-19 and Telehealth
CMS Administrator Seema Verma shares data highlighting the impact of telehealth on Medicare beneficiaries’ access to remote services following the Trump administration’s efforts to expand telehealth during the pandemic. CMS plans to review which of the regulatory changes should be made permanent. Health Affairs (7/15)

  • In a related blog post, IMPAQ Health experts review Medicare telehealth payment rules prior to COVID-19, summarize temporary changes, and explore how these changes may influence the Quality Payment Program (QPP).
With some aspects of the telehealth expansion likely here to stay, telehealth providers will need to offer remote interpretation services for Americans with limited English proficiency. With 10% of the American population having limited English proficiency, telehealth providers face technical challenges to provide equitable services that comply with federal law. Axios (7/18)
Spotlight on IMPAQ
In the latest post in our COVID-19 blog series , IMPAQ Health experts examine how COVID-19, the ACA Payment Notice, and resulting state and health plan decisions may impact vulnerable populations’ access to care in 2021. Authors Emily Baranski, Talia Fish, and Kevin Van Dyke explore answers to the questions: (1) Will plans continue offering expanded telehealth services? (2) Will premiums increase due to expanded coverage? and (3) How will these decisions affect vulnerable populations?
At our July 16 webinar, IMPAQ President Dr. Adaeze Enekwechi led a conversation with nationally recognized experts on how payers, providers, and policymakers can use telehealth to advance health equity. If you missed the event, you can view a recording and read our top three takeaways . This webinar was hosted in partnership with the American Telemedicine Association.
IMPAQ Health experts will showcase 11 presentations at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting , taking place virtually July 28–August 5. Our colleagues at the  American Institutes for Research (AIR) will join us  in sharing their health expertise through two additional presentations. We look forward to discussing topics including social determinants of health (SDoH), health coverage and access, Medicaid, the health workforce, and many more. We invite you to speak with our experts at our virtual exhibit booth, view our posters, and attend Building Synthetic Healthcare Data for Research , a live presentation on August 4 by IMPAQ and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Interested in speaking with one of our experts at the event? Email us .
Other Health News
According to a new study from Families USA, 5.4 million Americans lost their employer-sponsored health insurance between February and May 2020. While four of every five people who lost insurance from their employer are eligible for coverage under either expanded Medicaid programs or subsidized private insurance, many still cannot afford premiums for coverage or are unaware that they are eligible for Medicaid. The New York Times (7/13)

Leading into the 2020 election, the ACA has faced many changes in recent months. These include the Supreme Court decision on the ACA’s contraceptive coverage mandate, rules finalized in the 2021 payment notice, a new proposed rule on risk-adjustment data validation methodology, the ongoing California v. Texas Supreme Court case , and two pieces of legislation authored by Congressional Democrats to bolster the ACA during the pandemic. Health Affairs (7/20)
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that otherwise healthy Black children were three times as likely to die after surgery than white children, challenging the explanation that Black Americans have poorer health outcomes due to higher comorbidities. The Washington Post (7/20)
In 2019, 71,000 Americans died from drug-related overdoses—a new peak that came to the dismay of many public health researchers. While several states in the Northeast continued to see declines, the pandemic may be poised to create higher demand and lead to more problematic drug use. Associated Press (7/15)
Feel-Good News Stories
Hospitals and researchers in multiple countries have observed a drastic, albeit not universal, reduction in premature births during the pandemic lockdown. This trend presents opportunities for further research that could explain the causes of premature birth and ways to prevent it. The New York Times (7/19)
Nearly six months into the pandemic, there are finally some tongue-in-cheek phrases to describe our new normal of zoom calls, baking, and wearing face masks. The New Yorker (7/13)
Graphic of the Week
On July 17, Rep. John Lewis lost his battle with pancreatic cancer leaving behind an inspirational career as a leading activist during the Civil Rights Movement and Representative for Georgia’s 5 th  Congressional District.  
Photo: Lorie Shaull
Upcoming Events, Trainings, and Webinars
The Bipartisan Policy Center will discuss its efforts to develop policy recommendations to integrate the Medicare and Medicaid programs and highlight the impact of COVID-19 on “dual-eligible individuals.” Register here .
The pandemic has caused economic upheaval across the health care system, including primary care. Many physician practices – especially small to mid-size offices – are in a place of enormous risk and financial uncertainty. Yet, this situation has also shed light on how primary care can move into the future: a future where physicians have the flexibility to deliver care in the clinic, via virtual visits, and in the home. Register here .
Virtual care and digital health have become increasingly popular as a result of COVID-19. This webinar, sponsored by Stat News, will discuss the benefits and challenges of the increased use of virtual and digital care, as well as how virtual care will shift in a post-pandemic world. 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.