President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan that includes $20 billion in funding for a national vaccine program, $350 billion for state and local governments, $50 billion for COVID-19 testing, and $170 billion for K-12 schools, colleges and universities. Dubbed the American Rescue Plan, the proposal would provide $1,400 in direct payments to most Americans, boost federal unemployment benefits to $400 per week, raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and extend the eviction and foreclosure bans until the end of September.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission voted Thursday to recommend raising Medicare payment rates to acute-care and long-term-care hospitals by 2% next year. The commission also plans to recommend to Congress to retain the payment rates for physicians and lower payments to home health firms and inpatient rehabilitation centers by 5%.
CDC researchers found that cases of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 have increased in children, adolescents and young adults since September, with weekly incidence higher in every successively increasing age group. The findings, published in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, also showed that time trends in weekly reported incidence for youths were parallel with trends among adults, with positive test results and incidence rising since September.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association is suing to block a rule restricting how drugmaker rebates are applied under Medicare Part D. "The Trump Administration's last-minute decision to finalize the rebate rule will drastically increase Medicare Part D premiums for seniors while significantly increasing costs for taxpayers," said PCMA President and CEO JC Scott.
Paul Purdy and Valdet Seferovic, former employees at Beaumont Hospital, and Zafar Khan, owner of Wholesale Medical & Surgical Suppliers of America, are facing wire fraud and conspiracy charges as part of an 18-count indictment. Authorities said the defendants stole medical devices and/or supplies from the hospital and then resold them through the internet.
Alex Fleyshmakher, son of a former co-owner of a Union City, N.J.-based pharmacy, entered a guilty plea to conspiring to violate the federal anti-kickback statute and conspiring to defraud the IRS. Authorities said Fleyshmakher and others paid kickbacks and bribes to health care professionals in order to steer prescriptions to the Prime Aid Pharmacies from 2008 to August 2017.
Rodney Stevenson, operator of EM General in Michigan, was charged with wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. Authorities said Stevenson, through his company, purported to sell N95 masks with N99 filters between February 2020 to March 2020, resulting to the company making approximately $3.5 million in sales to more than 25,000 customers despite delivering almost none of the masks.
Katherine Prosper of Maine was sentenced to four years of probation with a condition of home confinement not to exceed six months and was ordered to pay $89,864 in restitution after pleading guilty to Social Security fraud and making false statements. Court records show Prosper, a Supplemental Security Income recipient, inaccurately reported the presence of her husband in her household in order keep her eligibility to receive payment benefits from the Social Security Administration.
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