JANUARY 7, 2021
New spending package includes provider relief fund reporting changes and more funding
McGuireWoods
On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 133), an appropriations and stimulus package that includes changes to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to assist providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. READ MORE
CY 2021 Physician Fee Schedule update
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
On December 27, the Consolidated Appropriations Act [was passed and] modified the Calendar Year 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. | READ MORE
Georgia public-private partners seek statewide SUD treatment network
AMA Wire
If people can’t access treatment for a substance-use disorder close to where they live, they might not get any treatment, said Justine Welsh, M.D., a child and adolescent and addiction psychiatrist and director of the Emory Healthcare Addiction Services. | READ MORE
8 things physicians and patients need to know about the Pfizer vaccine
AMA Wire
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued Emergency Use Authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on December 11. The vaccine is given in two doses that are 21 days apart from each other and is reported to be 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. | READ MORE
Good news, bad news: Exchange enrollment up [in Georgia], but COVID is main factor
Georgia Health News
More than half a million Georgians are enrolled in the state’s health insurance exchange for next year, a more than 10 percent increase from 2020. | READ MORE
State wants health insurers to stop clogging hospital space
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King has devised a plan to help relieve overrun emergency rooms, hoping to avert a public health disaster when another expected surge of coronavirus infections hits after Christmas. | READ MORE
Health experts urge stronger COVID measures; new strain appears in state
Georgia Health News
With Georgia topping 5,000 current hospitalizations for COVID-19, public health experts are calling for more state restrictions to curb the virus surge. | READ MORE
Vaccination process not always going smoothly in Georgia
The Albany Herald
Vials of COVID-19 vaccine have been arriving at medical facilities across Georgia over the past two weeks. But the inoculation process itself has not always gone smoothly here, with logistical challenges and even some ethical concerns, according to health care providers. | READ MORE
COVID vaccines offered to those 65 and older and their caregivers in Chatham County
Savannah Now
On Monday, the Coastal Health District will expand its COVID-19 vaccination to include adults age 65 and older and their caregivers, Director Dr. Lawton Davis announced Wednesday. | READ MORE
COVID-19 positivity rate topping 20 percent in Floyd, surrounding counties
Rome News-Tribune
More than seven in every 100 Floyd County residents have been infected with COVID-19, and at least 109 of them have died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. | READ MORE
U.S. to send COVID-19 vaccine to pharmacies in hopes of speeding shots
Reuters
The United States plans to start distributing COVID-19 vaccines through pharmacies around the country earlier than expected this week as states have struggled to use the supply they have been allocated, top health officials said on Wednesday. | READ MORE
CMS pushes digital data collection for new quality metrics
HealthLeaders
Most of the 2020 quality and efficiency metrics proposed by the federal government would be collected digitally, cutting the hassle for providers to retrieve the data manually, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Tuesday. | READ MORE
Feds sue Walmart over role in opioid crisis
Associated Press
The Justice Department sued Walmart on Tuesday, accusing it of fueling the nation’s opioid crisis by pressuring its pharmacies to fill even potentially suspicious prescriptions for the powerful painkillers. | READ MORE
Georgia rural hospital tax credit program gets more favorable state audit
Capitol Beat
Georgia’s rural hospital tax credit fared better in a new state audit than the critical evaluation the program received from the state Department of Revenue just more than a year ago. | READ MORE
Many health plans now must cover full cost of expensive HIV prevention drugs
Kaiser Health News
Starting this month, most people with private insurance will no longer have to decide whether they can afford to protect themselves against HIV. Most health plans must begin to cover the drugs then without charging consumers anything out-of-pocket (some plans already began doing so last year). | READ MORE
Seniors face crushing drug costs as Congress stalls on capping Medicare out-of-pockets
Kaiser Health News
Nearly 70 percent of seniors want Congress to pass an annual limit on out-of-pocket drug spending for Medicare beneficiaries, according to a KFF survey in 2019. | READ MORE
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