Bernie wants to send everyone free masks; Trump signs EOs to reduce drug prices; COVID hits MLB

Steven Loeb · July 31, 2020 · Short URL:

Healthcare in politics, week 4

Defining health care, debatable - Pharma Marketing Network

Healthcare has been hot button a political issue for decades, with fights over Medicare going back to the mid-60s. The issue has been especially fractious over the last decade with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which passed without a single Republican voting for it.

It's with that backdrop that we now find ourselves in the midst of what HHS declared on January 31, 2020 to be a public health emergency. COVID-19 has upended the healthcare system in ways that nobody could have foreseen; thanks, in part, to CMS waiving telehealth regulations in April, combined with the necessity of using virtual care to see a doctor, that sector has been explosive growth in just a few months. 

As this is an election year, the delineations between what the two sides believe in, and their vision for how healthcare should work, will be made clear. That is what will be discussed at the Healthcare in Politics salon, hosted by Vator, HP and UCSF Healthhub, on September 30. Every week until then we will be doing a roundup of some of the biggest healthcare news and what Trump, Biden and the biggest healthcare agencies are up to:    

Campaigning in Arizona during the coronavirus pandemic - The ...

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Bernie Sanders wants to send everyone free masks

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Masks for All Act, which would allocate $5 billion for domestic manufacturing, procurement, and mask distribution to households via the US Postal Service. With this legislation every person in the country would get three free, reusable masks, including homeless people, as well as those in prisons, shelters, college dorms, and assisted living facilities. 

 Senators Tammy Baldwin, Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Doug Jones, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Tina Smith, Chris Van Hollen, and Elizabeth Warren are also sponsoring the bill. 

"We are the only high-income country in the world where infections and deaths are skyrocketing instead of falling. Nearly 150,000 are dead and 1,000 more are dying every day. That is an absolute scandal," Sanders said in a statement

"Dozens of my colleagues and I are proposing that we do what our public health experts and scientists say we must do. This is not a political or partisan issue. Providing all of our people with high-quality, reusable masks without cost could save tens of thousands of lives and avoid hundreds of billions of dollars in economic harm."

The bill has been endorsed by a number of organizations including the African American Health Alliance, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Teachers, Association of Flight Attendants, the Arc of the United States, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, Communications Workers of America, Democracy for America, Families USA, First Focus Campaign For Children, Indivisible, League of United Latin American Citizens, Little Lobbyists, Make the Road NY, Morehouse School of Medicine, MoveOn, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Medical Association, National Postal Mail Handlers Union, People’s Action, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Public Citizen, the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Social Security Works, United We Dream, and Working Families Party.

Representatives Ro Khanna, Lori Trahan, and Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced the Masks for All Act bill in the House.
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Trump signs executive order to lower drug prices

President Trump signed four executive orders to lower drug prices. The orders allows states to develop plans to import cheaper drugs from Canada, eliminate a system of drug discounts known as rebates in a bid to simplify the system, and seek to make EpiPens and insulin more affordable for patients of community health centers. 

The fourth order cuts the price that Medicare pays for drugs to be in line with prices paid in other countries. It won't be implemented until August 25 to give pharmaceutical executives a chance to propose an alternative plan due to their opposition. 

No timetable was given for when the other orders will actually take effect.

In response to these orders, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told investors that the executive orders will cause "enormous destruction."

"Overall, I’m disappointed with this executive order," Bourla said during a conference call discussing the company’s second-quarter earnings. "They pose enormous destruction in a time when the industry needs to be completely focused on developing a potential Covid-19 vaccine or treatment."

Major League Baseball gets hit by COVID

Twenty percent of Major League Baseball teams have postponed games because of positive coronavirus tests. That include matches involving the Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.

This is following an outbreak of Coronavirus among the Miami Marlins team that affected 20 players, causing the team to suspend play. In addition, a major-league coach and a member of the home clubhouse staff for the Phillies also tested positive after playing against the Marlins last weekend.

"The health and safety protocols were designed with a challenging circumstance like the one facing the Marlins in mind. The response outlined in the joint MLB-MLBPA Operations Manual was triggered immediately upon learning of the cluster of positive cases, including contact tracing and the quarantining and testing of all of the identified close contacts. The Marlins’ personnel who tested positive remain in isolation and are receiving care," MLB said in a statement.

"We will continue to bolster our protocols and make any necessary adjustments. The realities of the virus still loom large, and we must operate with that in mind every day. We are confident that Clubs and players will act appropriately, for themselves and for others, and the data provides reason to believe that the protocols can work effectively."

501st mission partner innovates against COVID-19 spread > <p style ...Fauci and Birx recommend face shields and goggle to prevent COVID

As the country still debates the use of masks to combat COVID-19, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, are both now advocating the use of face shields and goggles to prevent spread of the disease. 

"If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it," Fauci said in an interview on Instagram Live with ABC News, noting that while face shields aren't "universally recommended," people should wear them if they "really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces." 

"The thing about the face shields -- we think that could protect the individuals and that it would decrease the ability for them to touch their eyes and spread the virus as well as those droplets coming towards them," Birx said on Fox & Friends.

In a poll taking earlier this month, 86 percent of respondents said they had worn a mask in public. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has also been encouraging people to wear masks. 

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