Ivan Scott, owner of a telemarketing call center in Orlando, Fla., was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of three counts of receiving kickbacks and three counts of health care fraud, among other counts, in a $3.3 million scheme to defraud Medicare. Court records showed Scott targeted Medicare patients through telemarketing phone calls and convinced them to undergo expensive cancer screening genetic tests, and then Scott paid kickbacks to telemedicine companies that issued doctor's orders for the tests.
A panel of CDC advisers decided to postpone a vote on whether the US government should call for states to resume the use of Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, in order to gather more safety information. The vote could be delayed by at least a week as the panel investigates six rare blood clot incidents linked to the vaccine.
An Urban Institute analysis estimates that the US uninsurance rate would decline by almost 14% if recent changes to Affordable Care Act assistance were made permanent. Lower costs would lead about 317,000 Americans to switch to ACA-compliant plans, and some 475,000 would move from employer-sponsored coverage to marketplace plans if the higher subsidies included in the American Rescue Plan were retained, the report noted.
Fifteen percent of Americans said their financial situation has become worse than it was before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 55% said their circumstances are largely unchanged and 30% said they are better off than they were previously, a survey by Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found. Among people who reported living below the poverty line, 29% said their personal finances worsened and only 16% reported being able to save money in the past three months, and the survey of more than 2,000 adults also found racial disparities, as 39% of Black Americans reported saving money recently compared with 57% of white Americans and 47% of Hispanics.
The Congressional Budget Office released guidance on creating a federal "public option" health insurance plan after receiving requests from lawmakers. It includes eight policy options and how each would affect the health insurance market.
Acting FDA Commissioner and longtime Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Janet Woodcock is no longer seen as a frontrunner for permanent FDA commissioner. Others who may be under consideration include Katherine Luzuriaga, director of the University of Massachusetts Center for Clinical and Translational Science; Florence Houn, vice president for global regulatory science at Celgene; Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization; Gayatri Rao, an executive at Rocket Pharmaceuticals; and former FDA officials Joshua Sharfstein and Luciana Borio.
The FDA's Unapproved Drugs Initiative was supposed to get unsafe legacy drugs off the market and ensure those that remained complied with FDA safety standards, but the program had the unintended consequence of driving up prices of once-cheap drugs, and it was suspended in November. Policy experts are considering options for achieving the program's goal for the remaining 1,500 old, unapproved drugs on the market without causing price spikes.
Eli Lilly and Co. was one of the supporters that helped raise $139 million for Jaguar Gene Therapy in a Series B funding round. Jaguar is developing preclinical gene therapies that target galactosemia, type 1 diabetes and gene-linked autism.
Aon, in collaboration with other stakeholders, is offering a cargo insurance coverage program for COVID-19 vaccines that will use sensor data and analytics to manage risks. Aon said it would donate all revenues from the program to pandemic-related charities.
The European Commission reportedly will not renew its COVID-19 vaccine contracts with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson when they expire at the end of the year, over concerns about blood clots and stalled deliveries, according to an Italian newspaper. The EU may rely more on the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the newspaper reported.
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