The White House on Wednesday announced the federal government will ship more than 25 million cloth masks to community health centers, food pantries, and soup kitchens, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Rhode Island.
- District of Columbia: Jeff Zients, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, on Wednesday announced the federal government will ship more than 25 million cloth masks in adult and children sizes to community health centers, food pantries, and soup kitchens to help Americans in low income communities more easily protect themselves against the novel coronavirus. "With this action, we are helping to level the playing field, giving vulnerable populations quality, well-fitting masks," Zients said. According to a White House fact sheet, the shipments will begin in March and continue through May—with the ultimate goal of an estimated 12 million to 15 million Americans receiving the masks (Cancryn/Roubein, Politico, 2/24; Miller/Superville, Associated Press, 2/24; Treisman, NPR, 2/24; White House fact sheet, 2/24).
- District of Columbia: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to clarify how a Medicare reimbursement claim for inpatient hospital care could be deemed "false" under the federal False Claims Act (FCA). Hospice provider Care Alternatives and RollinsNelson had separately filed petitions asking the Supreme Court to review a decision from the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stating that a claim could be classified as false if a medical expert disagrees with a physician's medical opinion in the claim. The Supreme Court's decision to not hear the cases could expose clinicians to legal risk and affect their decision making, according to Robert Salcido, a partner at Akin Gump. "A clinician might think additional treatment is medically beneficial, but if that reasonable clinician judgment is disputed in the context of the FCA and there is a higher possibility of getting sued, the doctor may be disinclined to do that service," Salcido said (Kacik, Modern Healthcare, 2/22; Paavola, Becker's Hospital Review, 2/23).
- Rhode Island: CVS Health on Tuesday announced that it has invested more than $114 million in affordable housing in an effort to "address housing insecurities and promote community health improvement in vulnerable populations." According to CVS, the investment will lead to the development of 2,800 affordable housing units in 30 cities across 12 states. "Through our investments and collaboration with local partners, we've been able to provide underserved communities across the country with quality housing, economic support, and educational training opportunities based on the unique needs of the population," Karen Lynch, president and CEO of CVS Health, said (CVS Health release, 2/23; Minemyer, FierceHealthcare, 2/23).