HealthCare Roundtable e-News – October 14, 2020

Registration is now open!

Roundtable members and friends may now register for the Roundtable’s 2020 Virtual Annual Conference. 

This year’s theme – Working Together… In a Disconnected Time – sums up our goal for this year’s gathering. Although we won’t be in the same room, we’re planning an agenda that will prepare all of us for what promises to be a very active period in Federal health care programs, policymaking, and engagement.

Registration details are provided at

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Introducing Our Featured Speakers – Monday, November 9th

Jonathan Allen – NBC News

Keynote Speaker – Monday, November 9th

The Roundtable is proud to welcome Jon Allen as our Keynote Speaker on Monday, November 9th. Mr. Allen is a senior political analyst for NBC News, based in Washington. He will present in a segment we’ve entitled, “The 2020 Election – Insights and Observations Looking Ahead to 2020.”

Jonathan Allen, co-author of the New York Times-bestselling Clinton biography “HRC,” has covered Congress, the White House and elections over the past 15 years. He has been honored with the Sandy Hume Memorial Award for Excellence in Political Journalism and the Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting on Congress by the National Press Club as a reporter for CQ — the first place he worked in Washington. A frequent political analyst on national television, he’s also been Bloomberg’s Washington bureau chief and Politico’s White House bureau chief.

Timothy Jost, J.D.

Monday, November 9th

Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, J.D., is an Emeritus Professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is a coauthor of the casebook Health Law, used widely throughout the United States in teaching health law and now in its sixth edition. Professor Jost will address the timely topic, “The U.S. Supreme Court and the Affordable Act – What Should We Expect?”

He is also the author of the books Health Care at Risk, A Critique of the Consumer-Driven Movement, Health Care Coverage Determinations: An International Comparative Study, Readings in Comparative Health Law and Bioethics, and numerous articles and book chapters on health care regulation and comparative health law and policy. He has written on legal issues in health care reform for a number of other organizations including the National Academy of Public Administration and National Academy of Social Insurance, the Fresh Thinking Project, the Urban Institute and New America Foundation, and AcademyHealth.

After Pivot, Trump Administration Expected to Resume COVID-19 Stimulus Talks with Pelosi

President Trump announced last week that he is again working with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on negotiations for a government stimulus package, but it appears that current negotiations are in a holding pattern. Pelosi is expected to speak with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week to negotiate between the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion proposal and the administration’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer, but neither has confirmed a scheduled meeting date.

On Tuesday (Oct. 6th), the president tweeted that he had instructed his representatives “to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill,” instead telling the Senate to focus on the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, which began yesterday. Two days later the president recanted his statement and announced on Fox News that both parties are “making progress” on a deal that would send relief and potentially more stimulus checks. (InsideHealthPolicy)

According to staff members, several GOP senators participated in a conference call last Saturday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, sharing that any agreement with Democrats “that ends up around $2 trillion is too much.” Among other concerns for senators up for re-election is the increasing spending levels, which some viewed as unacceptable and that “ballooning the deficit” will damage their standing with voters.

Trump Administration Pushing Medicare Demo with $200 Prescription Cards for Seniors Ahead of Election

The White House is preparing to send senior citizens $200 prescription cards ahead of the election, a plan that was proposed by the administration last month. The White House says the cards would be paid for under a Medicare program that is intended to test innovations to improve health care or lower prices.

But according to documents obtained by POLITICO, health officials, caught by surprise after the administration’s proposal, are in a hurry to get the $8 billion plan into the market by Election Day. Officials informed lobbyists that the test would look to determine whether seniors would be “more likely to take their medicine” if they were given $200. The administration is suggesting that improved medication adherence would save some money by reducing hospitalizations and doctor office visits, but it is yet to be determined if the costs of reduced hospital and doctor office visits would offset the costs of the cards. (InsideHealthPolicy)

CMS Administrator and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are overseeing the plan, which is set to be finalized later this week with letters including the prescription cards being mailed out to 39 million Medicare beneficiaries next week.

Operation Warp Speed Officials Anticipate 700 Million Vaccine Doses By April 2021

Last week, an Operation Warp Speed official announced that the program is on track to have a hundred million doses of COVID-19 vaccines available to the American population before the end of the year, with more on the way for early spring.

“We are still on track to have several hundred million more, on the order of somewhere between 600 and 700 million total by the March/April timeframe 2021,” HHS Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Paul Mango said during a press call on Friday. Mango also confirmed that said that the program anticipates there will be in the vicinity of 65,000 to 75,000 points of potential vaccination across the United States, with vaccine kits already assembled to support 40 million or more doses of the vaccine. (InsideHealthPolicy)

Americans all over the country have expressed concern that the president would look to force the FDA to approve COVID-19 vaccines and bypass safety precautions during trials before Election Day on November 3rd. Recent polls have suggested that many Americans are wary of the vaccines being produced through Operation Warp Speed, and public health experts fear political interference in the approval process would further undermine public confidence.

In response to concerns, the FDA had attempted to strengthen the rules by which it would agree to issue an emergency use authorization, or EUA, for COVID-19 vaccines, but those attempts were blocked by the White House. Last week, the FDA released updated safety standards and guidance documents from the vaccines and related biological products advisory committee, which advises the FDA on approvals.

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Whether on States Can Regulate Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Last week, Supreme Court justices listened to oral arguments on a case surrounding a 2015 law passed in Arkansas that prohibits pharmacy benefit managers from reimbursing pharmacies at a lower rate than the cost it takes to dispense the drug. Also being reviewed is a component of the law that allows pharmacies to refuse to sell a drug if the maximum allowable cost for a product, or the upper limit that a plan will pay for drugs, is too low.

The case is significant in that it could determine whether states may regulate pharmacy benefit managers to lower drug prices. Several of the justices listening on the case expressed skepticism that the states have such authority. During the hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts told Arkansas Solicitor General Nicholas Bronni that, while the law may have an impact on drug prices, he believes the core of the case is more focused on ERISA preemption. (InsideHealthPolicy)