News for Insurers
Top stories summarized by our editors
3/27/2020

Data from Johns Hopkins University showed the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US has risen beyond 85,000, surpassing the number of cases in China, and there have been close to 1,300 deaths. As cases continue to climb, hospitals in areas hit hardest by the outbreak are quickly running out of capacity, prompting some states to build temporary medical facilities in convention centers and other unlikely places to prepare for a continued surge in new patients.

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CBS News, Reuters, The Hill
3/27/2020

FasterCures launched an online tool to track potential COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, which currently number 58 and 43, respectively, as they move through the research and regulatory pipelines, says Executive Director Esther Krofah. The FDA and NIH are working quickly to facilitate clinical trials and share data, Congress and philanthropists are providing funding, but more coordination is needed, particularly in academia, to ensure researchers have the appropriate standards and clinical trial protocols, Krofah says.

3/27/2020

An informal survey by college affordability advocacy group Rise found 75% of 521 students polled said they have more anxiety, depression and stress because of the coronavirus outbreak. About half had work hours reduced or were laid off, 20% reported lack of access to healthy meals and a mobile device or Wi-Fi, and 17% said they didn't have safe and reliable housing.

3/27/2020

A study of 53 patients with celiac disease who had followed a gluten-free diet for more than two years found 88.7% had at least one fecal or urine sample test positive for gluten immunogenic peptides, researchers reported in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Increasing numbers of patients had samples that were positive for GIP over the course of the four-week study.

3/27/2020

An analysis from the University of Washington found that COVID-19 could kill between 38,000 and 162,000 people over the next four months, and demand for intensive care unit beds and ventilators could far exceed capacity by the second week of April. "The trajectory of the pandemic will change -- and dramatically for the worse -- if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions," said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the university's School of Medicine.

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The Hill, GeekWire
3/27/2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said House lawmakers will vote today on a $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package, but concerns that at least one member would demand a recorded vote cast doubt on the prospects and had members racing back to Washington, D.C. The legislation would provide up to $1,200 for individual Americans and increase unemployment insurance by $250 billion for workers who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, among other provisions.

3/27/2020

To ease shortages of personal protective equipment, the FDA said it is lifting major regulatory requirements such as 510(k) submission, unique device identifiers and quality system regulation for medical face masks needed during the coronavirus pandemic as long as the devices don't pose undue risk for users. The agency said it is also considering allowing firms to disinfect and reprocess N95 respirators to boost the supply under an emergency use authorization.

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Regulatory Focus
3/27/2020

A study that included more than 4,800 Americans ages 40 and older found those who walked at least 8,000 steps per day were from one-half to two-thirds less likely to die over 10 years compared with those who had lower activity levels, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The benefits were seen for men and women, across the age span, and among all racial groups included in the study.

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HealthDay News
3/27/2020

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association urged the Supreme Court to affirm the Eighth Circuit Court's ruling that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts an Arkansas law controlling how pharmacy benefit managers operate. The Arkansas law "contravenes ERISA's fundamental purpose of minimizing administrative costs to encourage the formation of benefit plans," PCMA said.

3/27/2020

Sebastian Ahmed, president of two substance abuse treatment centers and a medical clinic in Florida, is scheduled to be sentenced in August after he was found guilty of multiple counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud and other charges for his involvement in a $38 million fraud scheme. Authorities said Ahmed and his co-conspirators took advantage of drug users, entered into illegal kickback arrangements, and submitted fraudulent claims to private health insurers for medically unnecessary services.

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Department of Justice