May 6, 2020

Around the nation: White House says coronavirus task force members won't testify before Congress

Daily Briefing

    The White House on Monday informed Congress that members of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force will not be able to testify before lawmakers in May because they must focus their attention on responding to the country's Covid-19 epidemic, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Colorado, District of Columbia, and Illinois.

    • Colorado: State lawmakers on Monday announced that Colorado's Legislature will not vote this year on a bill to implement a so-called "public option" health insurance plan in the state. The bill aims to establish the Colorado Health Care Option, a hybrid public-private health plan intended to compete with other health insurance options available in the state's individual market. The bill's primary supporters said they're delaying consideration of the bill because the United States' coronavirus epidemic has made it difficult to ensure hospitals, physicians, and insurance companies can be involved in the effort (Hindi, Denver Post, 5/4; Paul, Colorado Sun, 5/4).
    • District of Columbia: The White House on Monday informed Congress that members of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force—including Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Deborah Birx, who's coordinating the White House's response to the new coronavirus—will not be able to testify before lawmakers in May because they must focus their attention on responding to the United States' Covid-19 epidemic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pushed back on the announcement, arguing that federal lawmakers are entitled to hear from the officials involved with the White House's response to the epidemic because Congress has authorized trillions of dollars in funding for the efforts. White House spokesperson Judd Deere in a statement said the White House is "committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time" (Perano, Axios, 5/4; Bump, Washington Post, 5/4; Vazquez/Acosta, CNN, 5/4).
    • Illinois: Walgreens on April 30 announced that it has lowered its retail prices for hundreds of prescription drugs in response to increased financial strain Americans are facing as a result of the country's coronavirus epidemic. Walgreens said the reduced prices are available to every customer, including those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, through its Prescriptions Savings Club, which has an annual fee of $20 fee per person or $35 per family (Anderson, Becker's Hospital Review, 4/30).

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