A mini-Covid wave has triggered a spike in coronavirus infections among prominent political figures, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Maryland.
- District of Columbia: In recent weeks, several White House officials and members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus in rapid succession. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive for the virus. On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo tested positive for the virus following the Gridiron Club dinner, a high-profile media event that was held on Saturday. Following the event, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) also tested positive for the virus. In addition, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), who did not attend the event, announced Wednesday that she had tested positive for the virus. (Axios, 4/6; Paz et al., New York Times, 4/6; Wang, et al., Washington Post, 4/7)
- Maryland: FDA on Wednesday announced that it is working with federal and local officials on an outbreak of norovirus illnesses linked to raw oysters across several states. According to FDA, the oysters were harvested in Canada and distributed to restaurants in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington state. "The FDA and the states conducted a trace forward investigation to determine where the raw oysters were distributed and to ensure they're removed from the food supply. Retailers should not serve raw oysters harvested from the following harvest locations within British Columbia, BC 14-8 and BC 14-15, with harvest starting as early as January 31, 2022, which will be printed on product tags," FDA said. "Oysters can cause illness if eaten raw, particularly in people with compromised immune systems. Food contaminated with norovirus may look, smell, and taste normal." (NPR, 4/6)
- Maryland: CMS on Wednesday said it wants to indefinitely delay its radiation oncology (RO) payment model after pushing its start back multiple times. Last year, a law passed in anticipation of pending Medicare reimbursement cuts stipulated that the model cannot start before Jan. 1, 2023. The model is designed to gauge whether prospective, site-neutral, episode-based radiotherapy payments can save Medicare money while maintaining or improving the quality of care. Under the plan, CMS would test this approach in limited geographic areas. According to a Federal Register notice, CMS still believes the model could improve the delivery and payment of radiotherapy, but the agency said it wants to begin a new rulemaking process and set a start date at least six months after they publish a new rule. "Delaying the [Radiation Oncology] Model indefinitely will give RO participants the ability to pause their efforts to prepare for implementation of the RO Model. We welcome additional dialogue with RO participants and stakeholders about Medicare payment for [radiotherapy] services," the Federal Register notice said. (Goldman, Modern Healthcare, 4/6)