IMPAQ Health News
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Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Administration Response
On March 27, President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to stabilize the economy, making it the largest stimulus package in American history. Also known as the CARES Act, this bill marks the third relief package that Congress has passed in response to COVID-19. The stimulus plan is far reaching , and specifically directs $150 billion to local governments and $117 billion to hospital systems.

In response to the Administration’s social distancing guidelines, which have been extended through April , states and municipalities have implemented various degrees of social distancing mandates across the nation. Even as millions of people have stayed home over the past few weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases in the nation has led to America having the largest caseload in the world . Concerns exist over a dearth of testing availability , inefficient efforts to “ flatten the curve ,” and our healthcare system’s treatment capacity . On March 27, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to boost ventilator manufacturing, as governors have called for federal assistance in addressing the supply gap.
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.

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

  • Statista is creating interesting data visualizations related to COVID-19, using data reported by countries around the world.

  • Vox answers the most frequently asked questions about social distancing. They also have other coronavirus-related FAQs available on prevention recommendations and guidance.

  • The New York Times is tracking the implementation of stay-at-home guidelines for states and counties.

  • Unacast developed a dashboard to show how people are adhering to social distancing at the state- and county-level.
Over the past two weeks, CMS has released a number of press releases detailing emergency actions they are taking to address the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
Beyond the Headlines
On March 30, the FDA approved the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (aka “anti-malaria” drugs) by medical providers. They will work to distribute millions of doses of the drugs for use on the most seriously ill patients. Health experts express concern with the drugs’ potentially fatal side effects for at-risk patients with heart problems, roughly 11 percent of the US population. While small studies in China and France have shown promise, more rigorous clinical trials are currently underway and necessary to prove the efficacy of the treatment. Currently, patients in need of the drug for conditions like lupus and arthritis have found themselves unable to fill their prescriptions due to the surge in demand. The Washington Post (3/30)
Economists are beginning to forecast an economic recession or depression triggered by the slowdown in the economy due to COVID-19 safety measures. In response, experts warn about an upcoming rise in mental health-related fatalities. While overall mortality rates tend to decrease during recessions, economic downturns correlate to an increase in suicide rates. Government efforts that address the mental health risks while balancing public health and employment needs will be key to minimizing the potential increase in suicide rates during an economic slump. PBS (3/30)
The national ventilator shortage illustrates a historical challenge that the federal government has had with outsourcing public health projects to companies focused on profits. In the late 2000s, HHS recognized a need for an additional 70,000 ventilators to manage an influenza pandemic and established a multi-million dollar contract with a small biomedical company to develop low-cost, portable ventilators. However, due to complications, the company asked to exit the contract after the government had already invested millions. The New York Times (3/29)
While the data ranges widely throughout the global hotspots for COVID-19, consistently, the most at-risk populations for experiencing serious illness or death are people over 80 and those with underlying conditions. However, this does not mean that young and healthy populations are immune. Though resilience increases with age from 0–19, it conversely decreases past age 20. The CDC calculated a 14.3 percent hospitalization rate for ages 20–44, 20.9 percent for ages 45–64, and 28.6 percent for ages 65–74. The highest hospitalization rates, as expected, are for those ages 75–84 at 30.5 percent, with a mortality rate of 4.3 percent. These trends seem to be consistent with the global data taken from China, Italy, and South Korea. Vox (3/23)
Those in low-wage, high human contact roles are the most vulnerable for contracting COVID-19. Looking at the lowest quartile of earners, roughly 24 million people (15 percent of the American workforce), are considered to be most-at-risk. These roles are highly concentrated in the service sector, including cashiers and care aides. When the wage ceiling is expanded to the median wage of $48,000 and jobs with moderate human contact are included, like retail, roughly 69 million workers (40 percent of the workforce) are considered to be most- or moderately-at-risk. Politico (3/21)
Feel-Good News Stories
Below are a few feel-good stories to remind us that no matter what, people always find a way to help one another, even in times of crisis.
  • Distilleries Switch to Producing Hand Sanitizer Amidst Shortage. US News (3/20)

  • DJs Spin Records for Digital Dance Clubs. TIME (3/25)

  • Foster Pet Adoptions Have Seen a Rapid Increase. CBS News (3/26)

  • A Wedding Happened on the Streets of New York City. USA Today (3/24)
Additional Eye-Catching Headlines
March 23 marked the 10-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Over the last decade, the bill has expanded coverage to 20 million people, with lower-wage earners and minority groups seeing the largest coverage gains. Studies have shown that the ACA has made people healthier, and those with pre-existing conditions and people under 26 now have access to more affordable care. Insurance companies have also been able to benefit from the ACA, given the expanded number of people in the market. Since its passing, the bill has faced some challenges, including the repeal of the individual mandate, a current case now heading to the Supreme Court, and some participants still struggling with high deductibles. At the same time, state officials are looking to leverage the ACA as a way to provide health insurance to those who are in need of coverage during the pandemic. The New York Times (3/23)

  • Former Obama Administration CMS Administrator, Andy Slavitt, reflects on the state of the ACA. USA Today (3/23)
CMS has eliminated plans to implement a rule in April meant to tighten eligibility requirements. The rule was intended to crackdown on Medicaid fraud and abuse, but critics argued the rule was likely to put more pressure on the eligible population and lower enrollment. As an increasing number of people lose employment and health insurance due to stay-at-home policies, Congress is focusing on providing additional Medicaid funds for states.  Modern Healthcare (3/25)
Spotlight on IMPAQ
In the latest IMPAQ blog post , IMPAQ President Dr. Adaeze Enekwechi reflects on what we can all do to build resilience as we face this unprecedented moment in our personal and professional lives. For more on IMPAQ’s response to the coronavirus, read this COVID-19 update from IMPAQ leadershi p .
Over the past decade, IMPAQ has supported CMS in implementing the ACA in myriad ways. From supporting the operations of health plans on, to providing technical assistance for value-based payment models from the CMS Innovation Center, we are proud to be part of the impact the ACA has had on millions of Americans. To learn more about one of the ways IMPAQ is currently supporting the ACA, read our recent news article: IMPAQ Continues to Support Access to Affordable, Quality Health Insurance through CCIIO Marketplace Operations Support Contract.
In the latest RadioRev podcast by Revel Health , IMPAQ President Dr. Adaeze Enekwechi discusses the importance of lived experience when discussing and addressing social determinants of health (SDoH). In this episode, learn about government programs and policies that challenge SDoH, innovative solutions that stand out, and where the industry is headed.
Graphic of the Week
Try to pass people with six feet of space, even when just walking around your neighborhood!
Graphic developed by the National Recreation and Park Association ( NPRA )
Upcoming Events, Trainings, Tools, & Webinars
As part of a larger COVID-19 webinar series, this webinar will focus on how modeling tools can help state and local governments respond to health system capacity concerns stemming from COVID-19. Register here.
April 3, 9, and 16, 2020
Every week during April, Tableau will run a two-hour session full of speakers covering all things Tableau and data visualization. Register here.
Health Leads, a national healthcare organization connecting low-income patients with basic resources, directs this interactive webinar. Four health equity champions will discuss the role of equity in the design and implementation process of SDoH interventions with a lens towards equity-centered human design. Register here.
This virtual roundtable discussion will focus on the current state of access to treatment and harm reduction services for people with substance use disorders, and how COVID-19 will impact the future state of addiction policy. Register here .
This webinar, hosted by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, will feature birth and reproductive justice health professionals' experiences and guidance with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and response. 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.