The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday released a fact sheet on Operation Warp Speed, which “aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021. As outlined, HHS indicates that, to achieve this, steps will be taken simultaneously – manufacturing of a vaccine at an industrial scale will begin before demonstration of its safety and efficacy; and, manufacturing capacity for select vaccine candidates will be advance while they are still in development.
On Wednesday, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule intended to support a state’s ability to enter into value-based purchasing arrangements (VBPs) with prescription drug manufacturers, while providing manufacturers the regulatory support to enter into VBPs with payers, including Medicaid. CMS expects this rule will support the healthcare system’s move to paying based on value. Also on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing entitled, “Health Care Inequality: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 and the Health Care System,” to examine the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on communities of color due to racial biases, access to healthcare and insurance, and living conditions; and, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing entitled, “Telehealth: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” to examine the impact of temporary changes made to federal regulations governing telehealth services, and to discuss which changes should be made permanent.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration cannot move forward with its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects about 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation. MassBio CEO Bob Coughlin issued the below statement praising the decision:
“We’re thrilled to see the Supreme Court’s decision today to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We’ve said before and still strongly believe that it’s the best and brightest from around the world that make our country what it is, and that starts with young people who are raised to believe they can make an impact if they work hard. The life sciences industry depends on a diverse workforce to tackle the toughest unmet medical needs out there, and now more than ever we need to be cultivating, attracting, and retaining talent to our country and industry, not turning them away and sending the message that immigrants are not welcome in the U.S.”
In Massachusetts, Governor Baker on Wednesday unveiled a police reform bill that would enhance accountability of the state’s police departments. As drafted, the bill would create a system licensing officers for the first time in state history.
And on Friday, Governor Baker filed a $5.25 billion interim spending bill that would keep state spending flowing beyond June 30 and through July while work begins on a fiscal 2021 budget.
Phase 2b of Massachusetts’ reopening plan begins Monday, allowing offices to reopen at 50% capacity, instead of 25%.
On Thursday, the Massachusetts State Senate is expected to vote on a bill that will make telehealth a regular component of Massachusetts’ healthcare system. Named the “Patients First Act,” the bill includes measures around telehealth services, out-of-network billing, and scope of practice, according to the summary. It would also allow nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and psychiatric nurse mental health specialists to practice independently, subject to education and training requirements.