August 12, 2020 | Updates

Leading The Fight: How Health Care Leaders Are Working Together To Combat COVID-19

WASHINGTON – At this critical moment, when the nation is depending on our health care system, America’s leading doctors, nurses, clinicians, hospitals, health insurance providers, biopharmaceutical companies and employers are committed to working together to defeat and overcome COVID-19.

From health insurance providers and hospitals who are working together to provide access to affordable, high-quality care to biopharmaceutical companies quickly developing COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, health care leaders are working to help Americans get healthy and stay healthy. 

For The Millions of Americans Who Rely On Employer-Provided Coverage, Many Insurers Are Waiving Costs And Providing Critical Resources To Meet This Challenge:

Health Insurance Providers Continue To Waive Customer Costs For COVID-19 Testing And Care. “Health insurance companies are extending practices that ensure beneficiaries can receive free Covid-19 testing and treatment during the pandemic.  At least five insurers, including Aetna and Cigna, have decided to lengthen the period for which they would waive out-of-pocket costs related to the coronavirus past the initial June 1 end date, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group.” (Sara Hansard, “Insurers Continue To Waive Customer Costs For Virus Tests, Care,” Bloomberg Law, 5/29/20)

Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans Are Covering 100 Percent Of The Cost Of COVID-19 Testing. “All comprehensive health insurance plans must pick up 100% of the cost of coronavirus testing, as well as any visit to the emergency room, doctor’s office or urgent care center that may have led to that testing.  That includes any COVID-19 test deemed appropriate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Insurers must also provide free antibody testing for COVID-19 patients under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Donald Trump signed into law last month.” (Walecia Konrad, “Does Your Health Insurance Cover You For COVID-19?,” CBS News, 4/21/20)

Health Insurance Providers Are Reducing Premiums During The COVID-19 Crisis. “Anthem has become the latest major health benefits provider to announce a premium reduction.  The company said it is returning $2.5 billion to its policyholders and health care providers with premium credits of up to 15 percent next month.” (Mark Huffman, “Major Health Insurance Companies Are Cutting Rates Due To COVID-19,” Consumer Affairs, 6/4/20)

Hospitals, Health Care Providers And The Federal Government Are Working Together To Creatively Expand Access To Care And Ensure All Patients Can Safely Access The Health Care They Need: 

The Mayo Clinic Has Significantly Expanded Its Capacity To Test For COVID-19. “The expanded capacity is made possible by three high-throughput diagnostic processors from Roche Diagnostics, running the Roche cobas® SARS-CoV-2 Test. These instruments are in operation at Mayo Clinic’s Superior Drive Support Center in Rochester. This test processing capability is in addition to the COVID-19 testing developed by Mayo Clinic’s Clinical Virology Laboratory. Announced last week, that test process is available for the Mayo Clinic practice.” (Jay Furst, “Mayo Clinic Laboratories Significantly Expands Testing Capability For The COVID-19 Virus,” Mayo Clinic, 3/19/20)

HCA Healthcare Discusses Innovative Efforts To Expand ICU Capacity. “HCA Healthcare has now developed a calculator for use in all of our hospitals. The calculator uses such variables as CDC estimates about transmissibility of the disease, the average daily patient population under normal circumstances, the population of the area surrounding the hospital, the current speed of transmissibility (are we on an Italy trajectory, a South Korea trajectory, etc.) and the current level of mitigation taken in a jurisdiction (social distancing, closure of bars/restaurants, shelter in place, etc.).” (Dr. Michael Schlosser, MD, “HCA Healthcare Discusses Innovative Efforts To Expand ICU Capacity,” HCA Healthcare, 3/31/20) 

Tech Firms Are Helping Local Governments Meet COVID-19 Testing Needs. “As more and more cities look to automate the coronavirus testing process, tech companies are working together to ensure that people can use an app or website to schedule tests instead of waiting in a potentially dangerous line.  Why it matters: Many testing locations remain overwhelmed by demand, but some are still underused.  More efficient coordination could help make better use of the resources we have.” (Ina Fried, “Tech Firms Help Local Governments Meet Coronavirus Testing Needs,” Axios, 5/8/20)

Health Care Leaders And The Federal Government Are Making It Easier For Americans To Seek Care Using Telehealth Services, Drive-up Clinics, Hospitals And More:

“Insurers Are Moving To Expand Networks And Provide Virtual Primary Care Plans At Lower Premiums And Less Cost-Sharing For Patients.” “Convinced that telemedicine, which exploded during Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders, is here to stay, insurers are moving to expand networks and provide virtual primary care plans at lower premiums and less cost-sharing for patients.” (Sara Hansard, “Telehealth, Tested In Covid-19 Crucible, Expands In Health Plans,” Bloomberg Law, 6/17/20)

Telehealth And Telemedicine Platforms Are Allowing Doctors And Nurses To Practice Medicine Virtually. “With the surge of doctors’ offices transitioning to telemedicine platforms during the coronavirus crisis, many patients are left wondering whether the remote services are a practical alternative for your average doctor visit.  Telehealth and telemedicine platforms allow doctors and nurses to practice medicine virtually.  You can easily get a prescription refill or ask your doctor questions at the click of a button without ever stepping foot into an office.  The convenience of the ‘e-doc’ is meant to streamline medicine and the services they provide.  More recently doctors have been using the platform to keep their patients safe from the coronavirus.” (Krystina Alarcon, “Is Telehealth Here To Stay?,” FOX News, 5/4/20)

Urgent-Care Clinics Are Utilizing Telemedince To Defeat And Overcome COVID-19. “Experity Inc., a company that sells software for urgent-care walk-in clinics, has had to quickly build new tools to meet customer demands during the coronavirus pandemic.  The Machesney Park, Ill., company accelerated the development and launch of a telemedicine application and also built a feature to allow Covid-19 patients to check in to their urgent-care appointments.  Both tools debuted in March.” (Sara Castellanos, “Urgent-Care Clinics Turn To Technology To Meet Coronavirus Challenge,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/11/20)

The Federal Government And Private Companies Have Shifted Their Reimbursement Policies To Encourage Telehealth To Help Stop The Spread Of COVID-19. “The coronavirus pandemic has forced people inside and put unprecedented strain on our nation’s hospitals.  Together, these factors have made it nearly impossible for patients to seek routine medical care in person.  As a result, an increasing number have turned to telehealth.  Remotely delivered care isn’t new.  But it took the spread of the coronavirus to push it into the mainstream.  Telehealth is already distinguishing itself as a crucial tool in the fight against COVID-19 and can serve us long after this pandemic subsides.” (Sally Pipes, “Telehealth Is More Than An Emergency Measure During Coronavirus,” Washington Examiner, 4/6/20) 

The Federal Government And Leading Pharmaceutical Companies Are Working Together To Combat COVID-19 With Innovative Vaccines And Treatments

Biopharmaceutical Leaders And Research Partners Have Added New Drug Development Programs In A Matter Of Weeks To Help Fast-Track COVID-19 Treatments. “The biopharma industry and its research partners have added new drug development programs in a matter of weeks.  For instance, under Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership aimed at fast-tracking COVID-19 treatments, the government is supporting five companies with the goal of having 100 million vaccine doses available by November – a project of scale and speed never seen in the life sciences industry.” (Giovanni Caforio, “Bristol Myers Squibb CEO: Why The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Me Optimistic About The Future Of Medical Research,” Fortune, 6/9/20)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Started A Public-Private Group To Speed Up Virus Vaccine Work. “The National Institutes of Health, CDC, FDA and other federal health agencies are partnering with pharmaceutical cos. to quicken coronavirus vaccine research and development.  The Accelerating Covid-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines partnership will develop a framework for prioritizing vaccine and drug candidates, NIH says in a statement.  Drug cos. include AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Evotec, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Sanofi.  NOTE: HHS, CDC, FDA, and European Medicine Agency are part of coordinated research.” (Teaganne Finn, “NIH Starts Public-Private Group To Speed Up Virus Vaccine Work,” Bloomberg, 4/17/20)  

Treatment and Cures Innovation By The Free Market Is The Best Hope We Have For Defeating COVID-19. “Developed by Gilead Sciences, the biotech firm, remdesivir helped to reduce the length of hospital stays in some Covid-19 patients.  While those results are preliminary, and a much larger trial is underway, the FDA was right to allow the drug’s use for patients who have little recourse.  Until a vaccine is discovered, better treatments will be our main medical defense against the disease.” (Editorial, “Drug Innovation To The Rescue,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/1/20)


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