CMS Proposes 2.8% Bump for Hospital Inpatient Reimbursement
Eligible hospitals could see a 2.8% increase in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, according to the recently proposed Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) rule. Other provisions of the rule would allow graduate medical education (GME) payments for training in rural emergency hospitals, boost reimbursements for hospitals treating unhoused patients, and lower payments for hospitals with excess readmissions and hospital-acquired conditions. Provider organizations have so far been critical of the proposed rule. The American Hospital Association (AHA) called the reimbursement increase “inadequate” due to the continued impact of inflation on hospitals, while the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) said the rule could cause rural hospitals to pull back on some services.
White House Launches Successor to Operation Warp Speed
A new Biden administration initiative called “Project Next Gen” aims to accelerate the development of new COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The $5 billion program is essentially a continuation of Operation Warp Speed, a Trump administration initiative that resulted in the development of the first successful vaccines and treatments. Among the areas Project Next Gen will focus on include the creation of long-lasting monoclonal antibody treatments, vaccines that deliver mucosal immunity, and a pan-coronavirus vaccine. To fund the new agency, the administration shifted around funding that was initially earmarked for COVID-19 tests and other priorities.
Juul to Pay $462 Million in Settlement over Youth Marketing
Electronic cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs has agreed to pay $462 million to six states to settle claims that the company illegally marketed its products to young people, particularly through social media. Attorneys general in those states argued that Juul executives were aware that their initial marketing persuaded adolescent users into its vaping pens but did little to address the problem as teenage use of e-cigarettes grew considerably. As part of the settlement, Juul will stop using people under the age of 35 in promotional materials, restrict the number of purchases consumers can make, and limit free or discounted promotions.
CDC: STIs Hit Record-High in 2021
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) rose to their highest level in 2021 and show no signs of slowing down, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over 2.5 million cases of STIs were reported that year, with more than half of all cases attributed to chlamydia. Of note, Syphilis spiked 32% in one year, while Gonorrhea increased by nearly 5%. The data also showed a concerning jump in infections passed from pregnant moms to infants developing in the womb. While the CDC said there are multiple causes behind the surge in STIs, pandemic-related delays in screening are one likely culprit. To address the rise in STIs, the CDC is calling for increased access to public health services and more research into vaccines and post-exposure treatments.
Senators in Key Battleground States Announce Bids for Reelection
This week, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) separately announced that they will be seeking reelection next year. Their announcements are a positive development for Senate Democrats, who will be relying on incumbents in battleground states to maintain their narrow majority in the Senate in what’s expected to be a difficult election cycle. While no Republicans have announced a bid for Baldwin’s Senate seat, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) left the door open for a possible run in a recent interview. In Pennsylvania, hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano are viewed as possible GOP challengers to Casey in 2024.
ICYMI: Irish President’s Dog Ignores Biden in President Visit
President and dog-lover Joe Biden got the cold shoulder from Irish President Michael Higgins’ dog Misneach when the commander in chief tried to beckon him. Instead, the Bernese Mountain dog barked at the president, causing members of the press pool to chuckle. The encounter occurred at the Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the president of Ireland, where Biden inspected a military honor guard, planted an oak tree, and rang the Bell of Peace.