Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday would not promise that a potential coronavirus vaccine would be affordable for all Americans, sparking outrage from Democrats. "We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can't control that price, because we need the private sector to invest," Azar told members of Congress. On Monday, the president asked Congress for $2.5 billion in funding to fight the coronavirus — more than $1 billion of that funding will be designated for vaccine development. Democratic leadership criticized the president's request as "anemic" and inadequate.
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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday would not promise that a potential coronavirus vaccine would be affordable for all Americans. "We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can't control that price, because we need the private sector to invest," Azar told members of Congress during a hearing concerning the coronavirus outbreak and the administration's budget request. "Price controls won't get us there."
Here's the clip of Azar not assuring Rep. Schakowsky a covid-19 vaccine will be affordable to all. pic.twitter.com/Z8aNd4wLWj — Michael McAuliff (@mmcauliff) February 26, 2020 AZAR ON CORONAVIRUS: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Robert Redfield of the CDC are among those testifying to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the coronavirus outbreakhttps://t.co/wbbinCgrlG — NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 26, 2020
Democrats and other critics quickly condemned Azar. "Secretary Azar is refusing to promise that a Coronavirus vaccine will be affordable to every American. Kick them out of office," Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, tweeted Wednesday evening. The progressive group Center for American Progress tweeted, "This is a global health crisis, and everyone should have the right to medication that will help protect them from this virus." While government and private researchers around the world are working quickly to develop a vaccine for the virus, it is estimated any vaccine is still several months away. The best preventative measure is regular, thorough hand-washing. On Monday, the president asked Congress for $2.5 billion in funding to fight the coronavirus — more than $1 billion of that funding will be designated for vaccine development. Democratic leadership criticized the president's request as "anemic" and inadequate. As of Wednesday, the US has confirmed 60 cases of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The virus causes a disease known as COVID-19, which has killed nearly 2,800 people and infected more than 81,000 others globally since December. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed cases in six states: Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin. Officials have recorded two cases of human-to-human transmission among family members. Aria Bendix, Rosie Perper, and Lauren Frias contributed to this report. SEE ALSO: Experts say officials need a 'plan B' for the 2020 elections in case the coronavirus continues to spread in the US Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Extremists turned a frog meme into a hate symbol, but Hong Kong protesters revived it as an emblem of hope
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Billions of dollars of coronavirus aid is on the way to doctors, rural hospitals, and coronavirus hotspots. Here's everything you need to know about when cash goes out and how to make sure you get your share.
The next round of coronavirus relief funding for healthcare providers, including hospitals, is going out this...The next round of coronavirus relief funding for healthcare providers, including hospitals, is going out this week. The first round, of $30 billion, went out to all providers who had billed Medicare in the last year. The next round will be more targeted. Aid will go to coronavirus hot spots, rural areas, and to the Indian Health Service. Some will also pay for care for people without insurance Another round will go to nursing homes, dentists, providers who only accept Medicaid, and to other hot spots. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The Trump administration is allocating the next round of coronavirus relief funding for healthcare providers starting on Friday. The funding comes from the $100 billion that Congress set aside for healthcare providers as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or "CARES Act" that President Donald Trump signed into law March 27. The Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, started sending out the first round of funding, of $30 billion, from April 10-17. All providers, whether medical practices or hospitals, received the funding as long as they had billed Medicare within the past year. That formula was meant to get money out quickly. The next wave of funding is intended to help providers who missed out on the first round, and to help those who have large numbers of patients with COVID-19, as the disease caused by the coronavirus is known. HHS Secretary Alex Azar and other Trump administration officials shared details of the next round of funding in a phone call with reporters Wednesday. "Our goal in all of the decisions we are making is to get this money out the door as quickly as possible while targeting it to those suffering the most from the pandemic," Azar said. Another $20 billion will go to a wide range of medical providers, with some strings attached The next round of funding will be directly deposited Friday to medical providers. Just like the first round of funding, it's supposed to be distributed broadly to providers, regardless of whether they're treating a large number of patients with COVID-19. Medical practices and hospitals have lost tremendous amounts of revenue during the pandemic, even when they're in parts of the country with few cases of the virus. State and federal health officials have told hospitals to stop performing surgeries and other medical procedures that aren't emergencies. The language of the CARES Act allows for medical providers to receive funding in such circumstances. How the payments go out: The administration is using a formula based on total revenue that providers report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Healthcare providers who get a direct deposit will still need to confirm their revenue figures with the agency. Those who don't have up-to-date information filed with government agencies can update their information on a website the Trump administration created. When the payments go out: Weekly starting April 24. Terms and conditions: Medical providers who accept the money won't be allowed to bill patients who have COVID-19 — or are presumed to have the disease — any amount greater than what the patient would have otherwise been required to pay if the care had been given by a provider in their network. Many health insurers have already said they won't bill patients for COVID-related treatments. $10 billion to hospitals with large numbers of COVID-19 patients A total of $4.4 billion will go to hospitals in New York, which has the highest number of patients with COVID-19 in the US. How to apply: Hospitals have to provide information to the administration using a website that will launch April 23. The information they'll have to provide includes sharing how many people they've admitted with either a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus. How HHS decides who gets funding: It will look at which hospitals have the highest number of cases, weighting more heavily toward providers with a significant number of low-income patients. $10 billion to rural healthcare providers The funding will go to roughly 2,000 rural hospitals, including their 1,100 rural health clinics and to 1,300 freestanding clinics across the US. When the payments go out: Timing wasn't specified, but HHS said it's expected to go out as early as next week. How the funding gets distributed: On the basis of operating expenses, keeping in mind that a significant number aren't profitable. $400 million to the Indian Health Service The funding will be allocated base on operating expenses, and is supposed to help with telehealth services. On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Admiral Michael Weahkee as director of the agency. When the payments go out: The date isn't specified yet, but it's expected as early as next week. Healthcare providers who treat uninsured patients with COVID-19 will get reimbursed at Medicare rates Healthcare providers who treat people with the coronavirus — or people who are suspected to have it — and who don't have insurance can get reimbursed by the federal government. Providers who accept government reimbursement are not allowed to bill patients for the care, said Tom Engels, administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration, on the call with reporters. The care includes coverage for oxygen, ventilators, and for treatments that end up being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The federal government will pay for the cost of a vaccine as well. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that the cost of treating uninsured patients with the coronavirus could land between $13.9 billion and $41.8 billion. The interim funding legislation making its way through Congress set aside $1 billion to pay for coronavirus testing for the uninsured. How to get reimbursed: Healthcare providers have to file claims with the federal government through an online portal. The care will be reimbursed through direct deposit. When the payments go out: Medical providers can register on April 27 and in May they can file their claims. Which care is covered: Any coronavirus treatment and testing that started Feb. 4 or after. Terms and conditions: Healthcare providers aren't allowed to send a bill to patients. How much this will cost: The Trump administration won't say, and isn't providing an estimate of how many people they expect will be uninsured and seeking care for the coronavirus. What happens with the rest There aren't a lot of details on how the rest of the funding will be distributed, but Azar previewed who would get it: skilled nursing facilities, dentists, and providers that solely take Medicaid. More money would also go to areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases. "There should be plenty of money there for an additional hot spot tranche if needed," Azar said. Healthcare providers were awarded another $75 billion through an interim relief bill Trump signed into law Friday. Government agencies will be checking for fraud and misuse of all funding.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How the Navy's largest hospital ship can help with the coronavirus
Coronavirus live news: Boris Johnson back in Number 10 as Trump denies he plans to fire health secretary
More US states to reopen; Italy to ease lockdown; Egypt asks IMF for bailout loan. Follow...More US states to reopen; Italy to ease lockdown; Egypt asks IMF for bailout loan. Follow the latest updatesFrance, Italy and Spain prepare to ease coronavirus lockdownsGlobal report: death toll passes 200,000Coronavirus latest: at a glanceAustralia coronavirus news – liveSee all our coronavirus coverage 12.31am BST US President Donald Trump, who for a second day skipped the White House press briefing, took to Twitter to deny reports that he planned to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar: Reports that H.H.S. Secretary @AlexAzar is going to be “fired” by me are Fake News. The Lamestream Media knows this, but they are desperate to create the perception of chaos & havoc in the minds of the public. They never even called to ask. Alex is doing an excellent job!Does anybody get the meaning of what a so-called Noble (not Nobel) Prize is, especially as it pertains to Reporters and Journalists? Noble is defined as, “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.” Does sarcasm ever work? 12.13am BST Hello and welcome to today’s live global coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Remember that you can get in touch with questions, comments, tips or news from where you live on Twitter @helenrsullivan. Continue reading...
Here's exactly what the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill means for hospitals, doctors, and health insurers
Congress came to the aid of healthcare workers at a time when they're overwhelmed by surging...Congress came to the aid of healthcare workers at a time when they're overwhelmed by surging demand and meager medical supplies. Lawmakers passed a $2 trillion stimulus Friday, and President Donald Trump signed it into law shortly after. More than $100 billion will go toward hospitals, and there are also changes to regulations for over-the-counter drugs and rules about what insurers must cover. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus package Friday aimed at buoying an economy battered by lockdowns and layoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 880-page legislation, called the "CARES Act," also has numerous provisions to rescue the healthcare system, which has become flooded by the demands of treating people with COVID-19. The stimulus moved quickly through Congress once senators and White House officials reached an agreement. Senators passed the bill Wednesday night and the House passed it Friday by voice vote. Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky tried to delay the vote, but enough members were present in the chamber to override him and guarantee the bill's passage. Trump signed it the legislation into law a few hours later. Business Insider combed through the aid package to take a look at how it would impact the healthcare industry. Most — but not all — provisions are directly tied to the coronavirus. The bill provides funding for hospitals and healthcare workers The hospital industry will receive more than $100 billion in funding from the federal government to help create what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has been referring to as a "Marshall Plan," referring to the reconstruction aid the U.S. sent to Europe after World War II. The American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association estimated that hospitals are losing $1 million a day from the pandemic, not just from screening and treating people who have the virus but also from purchasing additional supplies and forgoing revenue by delaying routine medical procedures. Schumer touted the hospital funding as a big with for Democrats, saying it was $55 billion higher than what Republicans initially put forward when they unveiled a bill last weekend. Hospitals who treat Medicare patients with COVID-19 will also get a 20% boost in reimbursement, and the bill delays cuts to payments to hospitals that reimburse them for uncompensated care. Refilling the National Strategic Stockpile with medical gear The National Strategic Stockpile, which is made up of warehouses that stock drugs and medical equipment in the case of a pandemic or other national emergency, will get a funding boost of $16 billion. The provision comes in response to healthcare workers being short on masks, ventilators, and swabs that help test for the virus. Another package Congress passed to respond to the virus already added $17 billion to the stockpile. Under the bill, drugmakers will need to report how much of their medicines they have in stock, must alert officials whenever they can't get an ingredient they need, and must craft a backup plan in case they should they run out of supplies. Medicines facing a shortage would get priority for review by the Food and Drug Administration. As for medical device manufacturers, those who make products considered key during a public health emergency would need to alert federal agencies if they're running short. The National Academy of Medicine would be required to put out a report about how much the U.S. depends on drugs and devices made outside the country. It will look at shortages and make recommendations to improve the supply chain. Another $11 billion in funding will go toward the development of vaccines, treatments, and medical preparedness against the coronavirus, according to a summary from the Appropriations Committee. Here are other key provisions of the bill for the healthcare industry: Increases childcare for medical workers: Employees in the healthcare sector and other workers helping with the coronavirus response will be able to tap into a $3.5 billion block grant that helps pay for childcare. Adds requirements for health insurers: Insurers will have to cover all tests for the coronavirus without charging patients out of pocket. Once a vaccine is developed, approved, and gets a top rating by outside medical panels, insurers also will have to pay for it without charging patients a co-pay. Requires posting prices of coronavirus tests: Companies that provide testing for coronavirus must publish the list price of the test online during a public health emergency. Companies that don't comply can be fined $300 a day. Lifts telehealth restrictions: The bill does away with restrictions on medical providers who use telehealth to treat patients, including a rule that requires a provider to have treated the patient within the past three years and another that blocks specialists from evaluating patients on at-home dialysis face to face. Adds funding for community health centers: The bill will allocate $1.32 billion more funding to community health centers, which provide preventive and primary care to about 30 million patients, mainly those who are uninsured, undocumented, or live in a rural areas. Boosts medical research: The National Institutes of Health, which awards grants to medical researchers, is getting a budget boost of $945.5 million that will go toward developing a test, vaccine, and treatment for the coronavirus. Some of that funding will go toward researchers who focus on how the virus affects people with heart and lung problems. An earlier bill Trump signed into law already increased NIH funding, bringing the extra funds NIH is getting to fight the coronavirus to $1.78 billion. Changes regulation of over-the-counter drugs: Companies that create new over-the-counter drugs would get a new 18-month market exclusivity on their medicines. The FDA also will be allowed to approve changes to over-the-counter drugs administratively, instead of through the current, lengthier practice of doing so through putting out a notice and gathering public comment. Eases requirements on privacy of medical records: Doctors will more easily be able to access information about whether patients have a history of addiction through a change in regulations tucked into the coronavirus aid package. Patients can consent to the information being shared to helps doctors keep addiction history in mind when they prescribe medications. The bill also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to put out guidance about what medical information can be shared during the outbreak. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What's really going on inside an insect-munching venus flytrap