On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order to permanently expand some telehealth services beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, including home visits for the evaluation of management of a patient and certain types of visits for patients with cognitive impairments. In addition, the EO directs three federal agencies to eliminate barriers to healthcare access in rural areas and would establish a more “flexible” Medicare payment system for rural hospitals. And on Thursday, President Trump signed an additional executive order, named the “Buy American” order, that directs the federal government to buy certain drugs solely from American factories. The order does not specify what drugs it covers but instead directs the FDA to decide which medicines will be subject to the new requirements. Drugs that are not currently made in the United States, or are considered too expensive to make, are also exempt.
Over the weekend, President Trump signed four executive orders in response to the Coronavirus response and ongoing stalemate in Congress. The orders would: institute a $400 weekly payment in expanded unemployment aid; reinstate a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic; defer student loan payments and interest, and defer payroll tax payments for individuals below an earnings threshold.
In state news, the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC) on Wednesday released its Standard Reporting Form that is part of its new drug pricing review authority. Under this authority, any manufacturer that is referred to the HPC from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), if an agreement regarding supplemental rebates cannot be reached, is required to complete and submit this form. The form is available on the Health Policy Commission’s website. The HPC notes that the Standard Reporting Form may be updated over time, with advance notice to and input from manufacturers and other stakeholders. The HPC may also issue other guidance.
In response to the rise in Massachusetts’ positive test rate to 2.1%, Governor Baker has paused the state’s reopening and implemented new policies to tighten COVID-19 restrictions that will go into effect on Tuesday. Under the new policies, outdoor gatherings have been reduced from 100 to 50 people, and require facemasks if more than 10 people from different households are in attendance. State and local police have the authority to enforce these limits on both public and private property. Restaurant restrictions have also been updated to require patrons to order food that is prepared there to be ordered with alcoholic drinks.
Additionally, MassBio will host a webinar on Thursday on the start of Massachusetts’ start of Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML), which goes live in less than 6 months. You can learn more and register for the event, here.