HHS

In Fine Print, HHS Appears To Ban All Surprise Billing During The Pandemic

Federal officials offering emergency funding to hospitals, clinics and doctors’ practices have included this stipulation: They cannot foist surprise medical bills on COVID-19 patients.

But buried in the Department of Health and Human Services’ terms and conditions for eligibility is language that could carry much broader implications. It says “HHS broadly views every patient as a possible case of COVID-19,” the guidance states.

Some say that line could disrupt a longtime health care industry practice of balance billing, in which a patient is billed for the difference between what a provider charges and what the insurer pays, a major source of surprise bills ― which can be financially devastating ― for patients. It is banned in several states, though not federally.

For those immersed in the ongoing fight over surprise medical billing, the possibility that HHS might have done with fine print what Congress and the White House could

Read More

Trump Touted Abbott’s Quick COVID-19 Test. HHS Document Shows Only 5,500 Are On Way For Entire U.S.

A coronavirus test made by Abbott Laboratories and introduced with considerable fanfare by President Donald Trump in a Rose Garden news conference this week is giving state and local health officials very little added capacity to perform speedy tests needed to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s a whole new ballgame,” Trump said. “I want to thank Abbott Labs for the incredible work they’ve done. They’ve been working around-the-clock.”

Yet a document circulated among officials at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency this week shows that state and local public health labs were set to receive a total of only 5,500 coronavirus tests from the giant manufacturer of medical devices, diagnostics and drugs, according to emails obtained by Kaiser Health News.

That number falls well short of the “about 500,000 capacity of Abbott tests that” Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator,

Read More