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COVID-19: Federal Update (8/4)

Quick Takes

— COVID-19 RELIEF NEGOTIATIONS LIKELY TO SLIP INTO NEXT WEEK. There have been no signs of progress on any of the key pandemic-related items as the White House and Congress remain far apart on the size and scope of the next deal.

— TRUMP EO SEEKS TO MAKE PANDEMIC-RELATED TELEHEALTH FLEXIBILITIES PERMANENT. The order seeks to codify some of the telehealth flexibilities offered through the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

Capitol Hill Update

— COVID-19 RELIEF NEGOTIATIONS LIKELY TO SLIP INTO NEXT WEEK. Officials picked up COVID-19 relief talks yesterday, but there have been no signs of progress on any of the key pandemic-related items as the White House and Congress remain far apart on the size and scope of the next deal. As such, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) conceded yesterday that the talks are not likely to produce a bipartisan agreement before the end of this week, thus pushing the negotiations into next week with the hopes of striking a deal. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is weighing its options at the executive level should the parties fail to reach an agreement. At a press conference yesterday, President Donald Trump specifically cited the moratorium on evictions and lowering payroll taxes as areas he could potentially address via executive order, though these efforts are likely to run into constitutional barriers given Congress' "power of the purse." White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are set to resume talks later today. 

Washington Insider: What We're Reading

A bipartisan coalition of senators and top CEOs are demanding that the economic relief bill being debated by Congress include more generous aid to businesses, setting up a potential clash over spending and benefits for big corporations. The lobbying effort is focused on expanding assistance proposed by Senate Small Business Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Rubio would allow small employers to apply for a $190 billion second round of forgivable loans to support payroll and also make available $100 billion in longer-term, government-backed loans that “hardest-hit” businesses could use on a wider array of expenses.

The lapse of enhanced jobless benefits amid a record-breaking crush of applications is exposing the flaws and shortcomings of how the U.S. provides unemployment insurance. The economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic has torn holes in a federal safety net woven by individual systems for every state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. More than 30.2 million Americans were on some form of unemployment insurance as of mid-July, with the Labor Department reporting a growing number of new applications in subsequent weeks. 

Trade talks between Britain and the U.S. continue apace — just don't mention the looming election. The third round of negotiations entered its second week on Monday and the British government hopes to make headway across the board. But with former Vice President Joe Biden holding a commanding lead in the polls over Donald Trump, U.K. negotiators face the prospect of a change in the lineup of the opposing team before a final deal is struck.

The future of popular social media platform TikTok in the U.S. was upended these past few days by a series of comments from President Trump about banning the app, making the Chinese-owned company the latest target of Trump’s tech war with China. The president said Monday he supported a potential deal involving Microsoft purchasing TikTok’s U.S. stake from Beijing-based ByteDance. He added that if the deal wasn’t completed by Sept. 15, the app would be “out of business in the United States.”

COVID-19: What We're Hearing

Senate Republicans officially introduced their opening offer proposal for the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation following days of intraparty negotiations between GOP Senators and White House officials. The legislative package was officially released as multiple pieces of legislation, with six total sections:

Click here to view TRP's side-by-side of the Senate GOP HEALS Act and the House Democratic HEROES Act.

COVID-19 Legislative & Regulatory Trackers


— TRUMP EO SEEKS TO MAKE PANDEMIC-RELATED TELEHEALTH FLEXIBILITIES PERMANENT. President Trump signed an executive order yesterday aimed at improving rural health and boosting access to telehealth, while also codifying some of the telehealth flexibilities offered through the COVID-19 public health emergency.

  • The order also instructs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to develop new value-based payment models for telehealth.


— HHS ANNOUNCES EXTENSION, REOPENING OF PROVIDER RELIEF FUND OPPORTUNITIES. On July 31, HHS announced a second extension of the deadline to apply for the $15 billion Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) allotment. The new deadline is August 28. Eligible providers may receive up to two percent of reported revenue from patient care.

  • HHS also announced that, starting the week of August 10, the department is offering another opportunity for Medicare providers to apply for additional funding from the $20 billion portion of the $50 billion Phase 1 Medicare General Distribution.

  • Providers will have until August 28, 2020, to complete an application to be considered for the balance of their additional funding up to two percent of their annual patient revenues.

  • Finally, starting the week of August 10, HHS is also allowing providers who experienced change in ownership challenges to submit their information by August 28 for consideration for Provider Relief Fund payment.

— NIH AWARDS FUNDING FOR NEW COVID-19 TESTING TECHNOLOGIES. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced nearly $250 million in new contracts for companies developing COVID-19 testing as a part of the agency's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative.

— TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES 'WARP SPEED' PARTNERSHIP WITH SANOFI, GSK. The Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense announced a new "Operation Warp Speed" partnership with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to support advanced development of a COVID-19 investigational adjuvanted vaccine.

— HHS OIG UPDATES COVID-19 FAQs. The (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has updated its list of frequently asked questions pertaining to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

— CMS, CDC ANNOUNCE PROVIDER REIMBURSEMENT FOR COUNELING PATIENTS. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that payment is available to physicians and health care providers to counsel patients, at the time of COVID-19 testing, about the importance of self-isolation after they are tested and prior to the onset of symptoms.

— HHS ISSUES TRENDS REPORT ON TELEHEALTH UTILIZATION. HHS has published a report detailing utilization trends of telehealth services for primary care delivery in Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

— CMS UPDATES DATA ON COVID-19 IMPACTS ON MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. CMS released its first monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population, including data for American Indian/Alaskan Native Medicare beneficiaries. Information on the is here and an FAQ on the data release is here

— FED EXTENDS COVID-19 LENDING FACILITIES THROUGH END OF 2020. The Federal Reserve announced a three-month extension for pandemic-related lending facilities that were scheduled to expire on or around Sept. 30.

  • The extensions apply to the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, the Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, and the Main Street Lending Program.

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