Final weekly figures released by the CMS show around 8.3 million people signed up for coverage through the federal exchange during the 2021 open enrollment period, almost the same as the enrollment numbers a year before, despite the transition of New Jersey and Pennsylvania into state-based exchanges. Data showed plan selections climbed 7% from 2020, despite a drop in new consumers.
An adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine being tested and produced by Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose and is refrigerator-stable for months, giving it an advantage over two-dose mRNA-based vaccines if it is approved. J&J signed an agreement to provide 12 million doses to the US government by the end of February and 100 million doses by the end of June, but the company is reportedly up to two months behind the original production schedule, and clinical trial results are not expected until late this month or sometime next month.
A study in the journal Obesity found that patients with COVID-19 admitted to the intensive care unit, as well as those treated with mechanical ventilation, had a greater visceral fat area value, compared with patients hospitalized with COVID-19 not taken to the ICU or treated with ventilation. The findings were based on data from an analysis of six studies encompassing 560 COVID-19 patients.
AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles urged the incoming Biden-Harris administration to pass bipartisan measures that will protect Americans from higher drug prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic. AHIP made the call following the release of a GoodRx report showing that 722 drugs will see price hikes early this year.
Financial advisers generally are not optimistic that the U.S. economy will fully reopen in 2021, according to an InvestmentNews Research survey. The survey found that only 44% of advisers expect a full reopening of the economy, and only 28% see a full resumption of in-person work and business travel.
Little has been accomplished as far as legislation to reduce drug prices despite bipartisan support, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., indicated he might push for legislation without Republican support using budget reconciliation.
The Spinal Decompression Clinic of Texas agreed to pay $330,898 to resolve allegations that it improperly billed Medicare. Authorities said the Longview, Texas-based clinic billed the health care program for the implantation of 41 neurostimulators, resulting to it receiving over $177,000 in reimbursement, from August 2018 to June 2019.
Yousef Shihadeh and Rihana Musleh, a couple from New York, entered guilty pleas to charges related to welfare fraud. Authorities said the defendants submitted documents that had inaccurate and false information in order to obtain Medicaid and SNAP benefits between January 2012 and September 2015.