House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was unable to strike an agreement with the White House on a pared-down pandemic relief package Wednesday, and Democrats called off plans for a vote on the legislation. Both sides indicated talks would continue, after House leaders released a $2.2 trillion package, having scaled back a $3.4 trillion plan developed in May.
More than half of people responding to a poll said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, but 79% of respondents said they would have concerns about safety if a vaccine is approved quickly, and three-quarters expressed concern that politics could be driving the process. The results follow publication of a warning from seven former FDA commissioners against politicization of the vaccine approval process.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will distribute $200 million to 600,000 members in fully insured plans from Oct. 19 to Nov. 7, paid for with proceeds from a lawsuit over Affordable Care Act risk corridor funding. Members will receive debit cards carrying balances from $100 to $500 that can be used to buy food, over-the-counter medicines and other items.
Major drugmakers significantly raised the prices of their products to boost profits and inflate executives' bonuses, according to the findings of an 18-month probe from the House Oversight Committee discussed in a hearing on Wednesday. Celgene, for instance, raised the price of its cancer drug Revlimid 22 times after its 2005 launch, while Teva Pharmaceutical boosted the price of its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone 27 times after it was released in 1997, according to the report.
A survey by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions found 71% of US employers plan to maintain or accelerate health benefit strategies for workers despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that for health care policy, 94% of employers supported drug price regulation, 90% hospital price transparency, 81% surprise billing regulation, and 79% hospital rate regulation.
Almost two-thirds of financial professionals say they will probably support in-plan annuities and other income guarantees now that Congress has passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, according to Nationwide's sixth annual "Adviser Authority" survey. In-plan guarantees are already used by 39% of advisers.
US data showed a 5.7% increase in Medicaid enrollment from February to June as the economy tanked and people lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included more than 2.4 million adults, an increase of 7.2%, and 1.4 million children, an increase of 4.1%.
The FDA has expanded its safety investigation of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine trial, which remains on hold in the US since Sept. 6 after one participant got sick with a rare spinal inflammatory disorder, according to a Reuters report citing three sources with knowledge of the matter. The agency plans to analyze data from earlier trials of other vaccines developed by the same researchers.
The Employee Retirement Security Act shields employees from a patchwork of state laws and ensures uniform, equitable, affordable benefits throughout the nation, write Katie Mahoney, vice president of health policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Steven Lehotsky, executive vice president of the Chamber's Litigation Center. The Chamber and the American Benefits Council urged the Supreme Court to maintain ERISA's essential preemption safeguards in an amicus brief supporting the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association's contention that state anti-PBM laws cannot be allowed to preempt ERISA.
The federal judge in Texas whose ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional sent the case to the Supreme Court has ruled in another case that companies can consider people who agree to have their internet activity tracked "working owners and bona-fide partners," giving them access to the companies' large-group health insurance plans. Experts say the ruling, if allowed to stand, would allow the companies to "hire" only healthy people, undercutting the Affordable Care Act, and would clear the way for fraudulent insurers organized as Ponzi schemes.
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