Morning Consult Health: Trump Considering Extension of Insurance Coverage Through Federal Programs During Pandemic

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  • Even though the Trump administration reportedly chose not to open a special enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump suggested he may reconsider the idea but stopping short of committing. The president and Vice President Mike Pence also indicated they are looking at how to use Medicare and Medicaid to extend coverage options, but Trump did not say whether he will force holdout states to expand Medicaid or raise the income threshold. (Politico)
  • For the third year in a row, enrollment in ACA plans remained steady, with 11.4 million people purchasing plans on the ACA exchange during the 2020 open enrollment period. For unsubsidized enrollees, the average premium was $595, down 3 percent from 2019, and average deductibles increased 4 percent year over year to $5,316. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • In a span of 72 hours, the COVID-19 death toll in New York doubled, reaching 1,941, up from 965 on Sunday morning, with more than 83,000 cases. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said projections show a peak at the end of April, with about 16,000 deaths in total. (The Associated Press)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission virtual meeting 10:00 am
View full calendar

Webinar – Before the Jobs Report: What New Data Tells Us About the Labor Market, Unemployment and a Recession

The March jobs report will be released this Friday, but it is unlikely to show the full impact COVID-19 has had on the labor market.

For a better understanding of the pandemic’s impact on jobs, consumer spending and the broader economy, Morning Consult will gather a team of experts today at 3:30 p.m. ET to discuss new data examining how prepared consumers are for an economic downturn and what consumer confidence tells us about a potential recession.


Coronavirus is now the third leading cause of death in the US, doctor says
Mike Stunson, Sacramento Bee

It only took a month for coronavirus to become the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a San Diego doctor and data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says
Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg

China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House, according to three U.S. officials.

New York City Deploys 45 Mobile Morgues as Virus Deaths Strain Funeral Homes
Alan Feuer and Andrea Salcedo, The New York Times

“When you overwhelm the health system, you also overwhelm the death system,” one funeral director said.

Anthony Fauci’s security is stepped up as doctor and face of U.S. coronavirus response receives threats
Isaac Stanley-Becker et al., The Washington Post

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert and the face of the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, is facing growing threats to his personal safety, prompting the government to step up his security, according to people familiar with the matter.

California coronavirus death toll passes 200 as L.A. threatens to cut utilities for nonessential businesses
Hannah Fry et al., Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday advised the Department of Water and Power to shut off utilities to nonessential businesses violating the city’s order to close, he said at an evening news conference.

Social distancing works. The earlier the better, California and Washington data show.
Geoffrey A. Fowler et al., The Washington Post

Two weeks into mandatory stay-at-home orders in the San Francisco Bay area and Washington state, there’s evidence the curve of infections is flattening compared with other U.S. metro areas.

Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response
Adam Cancryn and Dan Diamond, Politico

Trump’s son-in-law sets up shop at FEMA as his portfolio balloons to include manufacturing, supplies and long-term planning.

A Ventilator Stockpile, With One Hitch: Thousands Do Not Work
David E. Sanger et al., The New York Times

While President Trump has assured states that thousands of ventilators remain at the ready, thousands more are in storage, unmaintained or otherwise unusable.

Los Angeles mayor tells 4 million to wear masks
Robert Jablon, The Associated Press

The mayor of Los Angeles urged 4 million residents to wear masks to combat the coronavirus when they walk out in public, even as state health officials shied away from requiring a coverup.

A Boston Hospital Nears Its Limits
Clayton Dalton, The New Yorker

The system is coping, but the intensity of COVID-19 has surprised even experienced doctors.

Democrats Push to Address Infrastructure in Fourth Coronavirus Stimulus Package
Natalie Andrews, The Wall Street Journal

Five-year $760 billion infrastructure plan unveiled earlier this year fits with President Trump’s new $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, Democrats say.

Patient Has Virus and Serious Cancer. Should Doctors Withhold Ventilator?
Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times

With a looming shortage of equipment for coronavirus patients in New York City, doctors say they may soon need to make difficult choices.

44 Texas Students Have Coronavirus After Spring Break Trip
David Montgomery and Manny Fernandez, The New York Times

A group of about 70 students from the University of Texas at Austin celebrated spring break in Mexico, then returned to find that dozens had tested positive.

Coronavirus Seems to Be Infecting and Killing More Men Than Women
Katie Camero, The Wall Street Journal

Scientists sift through clues from differences in social behavior, work roles and sex chromosomes.


New York Wants Health Workers to Join the Fight Against COVID-19. Will It Pick Up Their Medical Bills if They Get Sick?
Sean Campbell and Talia Buford, ProPublica

States are recruiting retirees, recent graduates and other health professionals to help overwhelmed hospitals, but if they contract the virus while serving patients, they could be on the hook for any out-of-pocket medical costs.


Trinity Health Michigan to furlough 2,500, cut executive pay due to COVID-19
Jay Greene, Modern Healthcare

Trinity Health Michigan will furlough about 2,500 employees and cut executive pay as it deals with the financial impact from coronavirus on its eight hospitals, medical centers and other healthcare facilities in Michigan.

Nursing home infections, deaths surge amid lockdown measures
Jim Mustian et al., The Associated Press

Nursing homes across the country have been in lockdown for weeks under federal orders to protect their frail, elderly residents from coronavirus, but a wave of deadly outbreaks nearly every day since suggests that the measures including a ban on visits and daily health screenings of staffers either came too late or were not rigorous enough.

Bankruptcy court approves buyer for West Virginia hospital
The Associated Press

A federal bankruptcy court has approved a health care facility’s $3.7 million bid for most assets of the only hospital in a southern West Virginia county that planned to close this month.

DaVita, Fresenius partner to create network of COVID-19 dialysis clinics
Shelby Livingston, Modern Healthcare

The country’s largest dialysis providers are joining forces to protect some of the most vulnerable patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

California Company Under Scrutiny For ‘At-Home’ Coronavirus Test Claims
Tom Dreisbach, NPR News

With government authorities warning an anxious public about scams related to the coronavirus, a California company is facing scrutiny by members of Congress and the city attorney of Los Angeles for selling COVID-19 test kits that it claimed can be used “in the home or at the bedside.”

Malaria Drug Helps Virus Patients Improve, in Small Study
Denise Grady, The New York Times

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helped to speed the recovery of a small number of patients who were mildly ill from the coronavirus, doctors in China reported this week.

Big biotech venture funds raise billions despite coronavirus fears
Matthew Herper and Kate Sheridan, Stat News

The economy is grinding to a near-halt because of Covid-19. In the biotechnology sector, which is normally insulated from the rest of the market, clinical trials are being paused and even laboratory work has been stopped, with cell cultures put in the freezer. It would hardly seem to be time for investors to put money to work.

Ultragenyx’s gene therapy technology finds another interested party
Jacob Bell, BioPharmaDive

Ultragenyx, a rare disease drug developer, has agreed to out-license its gene therapy technology to Tokyo-based Daiichi Sankyo in a deal worth at least $225 million.

Health IT

Covid-19 spreads too fast for traditional contact tracing. New digital tools could help
Sharon Begley, Stat News

Every strategy for releasing Covid-19’s vise-grip on daily life starts with identifying cases and tracing their contacts — the laborious task of public health workers tracking down people who have crossed paths with a newly diagnosed patient, so they can be quarantined well before they show symptoms.

Telemedicine, Once a Hard Sell, Can’t Keep Up With Demand
Parmy Olson, The Wall Street Journal

The new coronavirus outbreak is testing the industry’s capacity, sending companies scrambling for doctors and new services.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Beating This Pandemic — and the Next
David Beier and Andrew Sullivan, Morning Consult

We’re in the midst of one of the gravest tests America has ever faced. It’s a moment to set aside partisanship and make decisions in the interest of the American people. 

Research Reports

Treatment of 5 Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19 With Convalescent Plasma
Chenguang Shen et al., JAMA

In this uncontrolled case series of 5 critically ill patients with COVID-19 and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), administration of convalescent plasma containing neutralizing antibody was followed by an improvement in clinical status.


FTC sues to unwind Altria’s $12.8 billion investment in Juul
Makena Kelly, The Verge

The commission is suing on alleged antitrust violations.

U.S. Futures Rise; Oil Surges on China Stockpiling: Markets Wrap
Yakob Peterseil, Bloomberg

U.S. equity futures rose with European stocks on Thursday as investors braced for the latest unemployment data from the world’s biggest economy. Oil surged after China unveiled plans to boost its reserves.

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