Morning Consult Health: White House Official Says Trump Administration Won’t Reopen ACA Marketplace for Special Enrollment Period

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  • The Trump administration rejected the option to open a special enrollment period for people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, according to a White House official, a move that would have allowed uninsured people to obtain coverage amid the coronavirus pandemic. Several states with their own marketplaces have moved to reopen enrollment, but the Trump administration has authority over enrollment in roughly two-thirds of states, and the official said the White House is “exploring other options.” (Politico)
  • In the harshest warning to Americans yet, the White House is anticipating a death toll between 100,000 and 240,000 from COVID-19, assuming that the United States continues practicing social distancing measures to prevent that estimate from rising even more. According to projections from the University of Washington, there may be 2,214 deaths per day at the nationwide peak in two weeks, with 84,000 deaths by early August. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Top health officials are weighing whether to update the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to recommend everyone wear simple, cloth face coverings in public, according to internal memos from the CDC shared with the White House. The memos emphasize the recommended coverings are not medical masks, which are desperately needed for health care workers facing shortages, but could help prevent the spread of the virus as evidence of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission grows. (The Washington Post)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

STAT live chat: The coronavirus pandemic 11:00 am
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 on Thursday, April 2 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.


New CDC data shows danger of coronavirus for those with diabetes, heart or lung disease, other chronic conditions
Joel Achenbach and William Wan, The Washington Post

People who have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease, face an increased chance of being hospitalized with covid-19 and put into intensive care, according to data released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is consistent with reports from China and Italy.

Pentagon says it still hasn’t sent ventilators because it hasn’t been told where to send them
Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN

Despite having committed to transferring 2,000 ventilators in military stocks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the Pentagon has not shipped any of them because the agencies have not asked for them or provided a shipping location, the Pentagon’s top logistics official said Tuesday.

Governors Fight Back Against Coronavirus Chaos: ‘It’s Like Being on eBay With 50 Other States’
Sarah Mervosh and Katie Rogers, The New York Times

A chorus of governors from across the political spectrum is challenging the Trump administration’s assertion that the United States is well-stocked to test and care for coronavirus patients.

Senate Democrats urge White House to quickly nominate new inspector general for coronavirus programs
Jeff Stein, The Washington Post

Trump on Friday took a step that could weaken an inspector general’s independence, but Democrats said strong oversight is needed to ensure accountability

Pence task force freezes coronavirus aid amid backlash
Natasha Bertrand et al., Politico

The review came after officials discovered that aid to foreign countries wasn’t being coordinated with U.S. requests.

Trump Calls for New $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill
Catherine Lucey and Andrew Duehren, The Wall Street Journal

President says it should be ‘VERY BIG & BOLD’ with focus on jobs, infrastructure.

Blood Centers Will Collect Plasma From COVID-19 Survivors In Bid For Treatment
JoNel Aleccia, Kaiser Health News

Blood donation centers across the U.S. are ramping up efforts to collect plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 in hopes it could be used to save the lives of others infected with the pandemic disease.

U.S. death toll spirals amid rush to build field hospitals, find supplies
Nick Brown and Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

The U.S. government raced on Tuesday to build hundreds of makeshift hospitals near major cities as healthcare systems were pushed to capacity, and sometimes beyond, by the coronavirus pandemic.

Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy
Matthias Gafni and Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.

Palantir, The $20 Billion, Peter Thiel-Backed Big Data Giant, Is Providing Coronavirus Monitoring To The CDC
Thomas Brewster, Forbes

In the last week, staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started logging into a new web app. It promises to help them watch where COVID-19 is spreading and checks how well equipped hospitals are to deal with the spike in cases of the fatal virus, according to two sources familiar with the work.


He Got Tested For Coronavirus. Then Came The Flood Of Medical Bills.
Elisabeth Rosenthal and Emmarie Huetteman, Kaiser Health News

By March 5, Andrew Cencini, a computer science professor at Vermont’s Bennington College, had been having bouts of fever, malaise and a bit of difficulty breathing for a couple of weeks. Just before falling ill, he had traveled to New York City, helped with computers at a local prison and gone out on multiple calls as a volunteer firefighter.


A Major Medical Staffing Company Just Slashed Benefits for Doctors and Nurses Fighting Coronavirus
Isaac Arnsdorf, ProPublica

Alteon Health, a staffing company backed by private-equity firm Frazier Healthcare Partners, will cut salaries, time off and retirement benefits for providers, citing lost revenue. Several hospital operators announced similar cuts.

Pennsylvania gives $8 million to keep for-profit hospital open through April
Tara Bannow, Modern Healthcare

Pennsylvania is coming to the rescue of a roughly 200-bed hospital whose private equity-owned operator announced plans to shutter the facility amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospitals Can Use One Ventilator for Two Patients as Last Resort
Shira Stein, Bloomberg Law

Hospitals, as “an absolute last resort,” can put two Covid-19 patients on a single ventilator, the HHS said in an open letter.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

A new Covid-19 problem: Shortages of medicines needed for placing patients on ventilators
Ed Silverman, Stat News

On top of the overwhelming shortages of medical equipment required to combat Covid-19, there are now signs that medicines needed for patients who are placed on ventilators are also in short supply.

Cambridge biotech seeks OK for coronavirus test that delivers results in 15 minutes
Jonathan Saltzman, The Boston Globe

Researchers at Mass. General are ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the product, which resembles a pregnancy test, is reliable.

Private Labs Are Fueling a New Coronavirus Testing Crisis
Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic

Backlogs at private laboratories have ballooned, making it difficult to treat suffering patients and contain the pandemic.

Health IT

Larry Ellison Reveals His Big Data Battle Plan To Fight Coronavirus In Partnership With Trump White House
Angel Au-Yeung, Forbes

In a rare interview, the world’s fifth-richest person and Oracle founder talks about the president, the pandemic and his $300 million bet to turn his Hawaiian island into a wellness laboratory.

‘Human experts will make the call’: Stanford launches an accelerated test of AI to help care for Covid-19 patients
Rebecca Robbins, Stat News

In the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford clinicians and researchers are exploring whether artificial intelligence could help manage a potential surge of Covid-19 patients — and identify patients who will need intensive care before their condition rapidly deteriorates.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

A Policy Pathway to Expanding Access to More Affordable Treatments for Americans
Sal Giorgianni, Morning Consult

As efforts to protect the public health of the American people dominate conversations in the U.S. Capitol building, state legislatures and living rooms around the country, we must not lose sight of how we can bring innovative and more affordable prescription drugs to patients in need. 

Here’s how to make up for lost time on covid-19
Bill Gates, The Washington Post

There’s no question the United States missed the opportunity to get ahead of the novel coronavirus. But the window for making important decisions hasn’t closed. 

Research Reports

Preliminary Estimates of the Prevalence of Selected Underlying Health Conditions Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 — United States, February 12–March 28, 2020
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Based on preliminary U.S. data, persons with underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, and cardiovascular disease, appear to be at higher risk for severe COVID-19–associated disease than persons without these conditions.


Appellate court allows Texas to ban abortions during pandemic
Harris Meyer, Modern Healthcare

A divided federal appellate court allowed Texas to at least temporarily block abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Futures Drop With Europe Stocks; Bonds Climb: Markets Wrap
Robert Brand, Bloomberg

American equity futures fell along with stocks in Europe and Asia as investors took in worsening U.S. coronavirus figures and assessed the pandemic’s impact on corporate profits and dividends. The dollar climbed with Treasuries.

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