Virginia legislators are implementing new policies to bolster the state’s healthcare workforce in response to the pandemic, according to a press release from the Governor’s office. It is estimated that up to 30,000 additional workers are needed in Virginia’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, and public health departments, should a surge occur. The executive order allows hospitals, nursing facilities, and dialysis facilities to have out-of-state licensees provide in-state care and Virginia-licensed nurse practitioners with two or more years of clinical experience to practice without a collaborative agreement.
The Montana Hospital Association has issued a conservative estimate that the COVID-19 impact on its hospitals in the first three weeks would be around $100 million, reports The Missoulian. A 2019 study found that Montana’s hospitals are responsible for around $4.7 billion worth of annual Gross Domestic Product. The combination of canceled elective procedures and people avoiding doctors’ offices is having a real depressive effect on hospital revenue. Earlier in April, Montana’s Congressional delegation announced that Montana hospitals altogether would receive about $111.5 million from the program set up by the CARES Act.
Vermont is requiring commercial health insurers to waive cost-sharing requirements—such as co-payments, coinsurances or deductibles —for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, according to an official press release. The emergency regulation applies to fully funded health insurance plans, such as plans sold on the exchange or to large-group employers. Consistent with existing Department of Financial Regulation rules, insurers will be required to cover out-of-network services for members if in-network providers are unavailable.
New Jersey’s hospitals and healthcare professionals responding to the coronavirus are now largely protected from legal liability if a patient is injured or dies while under their care during the current pandemic crisis, reports NJ Spotlight. The new law, retroactive to March 9, is designed to ensure that there are no impediments to providing medical treatment to COVID-19 patients, but many lawmakers raised questions about the lack pf public input on the bill, its broad scope of immunity and the impact it could have on communities of color that are suffering disproportionately in the pandemic.
The Governor of Minnesota signed into law the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act to provide relief to residents struggling to afford their insulin, reports the Office of the Governor. The bill contains emergency and long-term components, which take effect on July 1, 2020. The emergency provisions allow eligible individuals in urgent need of insulin to go to their pharmacy once in a 12-month period and receive a one-time, 30-day supply of insulin for a $35 co-pay. The long-term program requires manufacturers to provide insulin to eligible individuals for up to one year, with the option to renew annually. Insulin will be available in 90-day increments for a co-pay of no more than $50.
As coronavirus spreads into rural Oklahoma, hospitals serving those communities face difficulties that go beyond those of their metropolitan counterparts, reports The Oklahoman. Rural hospitals less likely to receive shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) -- a concern not only for staff safety but potentially leading to debilitating workforce shortages if providers fall ill. Moreover, the COVID-19 outbreak comes at a time when rural hospitals are struggling financially due to declining rural populations and rising costs, among other factors.
The Minnesota Hospital Association says healthcare systems and medical centers across the state are facing a financial hit of $2.9 billion over the next 90 days due to COVID-19, reports the Star Tribune. The biggest factor is that hospitals and health systems are seeing a decline of $2.8 billion in revenue due to postponed elective surgeries that help preserve scarce supplies needed for handling COVID-19 patients. Minnesota hospitals and health systems are collectively losing $31 million in revenue per day from reduced patient volumes, the association says.
The Ohio Hospital Association estimates a $1.2 billion negative financial impact to Ohio hospitals every month, according to Modern Healthcare. In addition to the cost implications of shifting away from nonessential surgeries and procedures, hospitals are grappling with increasing prices in the supply chain for the equipment they desperately need to treat COVID-19 patients. The state has already launched the Variable Rate Demand Obligation (VRDO) Stabilization Program, which aims to provide added liquidity and ease the financial pressure hospitals face as they respond to the pandemic.
Despite an abbreviated legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly approved permanent funding for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, reports AARP. The Board has the authority to require that pharmaceutical manufacturers justify large price increases. The Board’s scope will focus on implementing measures to make prescription drugs purchased by state and local government entities and programs more affordable, and to present a plan to the legislature to expand its authority in the future.
When fears of COVID-19 surfaced, the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange opened a special enrollment period so that uninsured people have until June 15 to get coverage, according to Maryland Matters. In March alone, 10,222 people enrolled for coverage through the Maryland Health Connection. For consumers who enroll by April 15, their policies become effective on April 1, meaning it could apply to treatment they already received. The same retroactive provision applies for consumers who sign up between May 1 and May 15.