US hospitals could lose $122 billion in total revenues due to the pandemic this year if the country sees only partial recovery in patient volumes, cyclical COVID-19 surges and slow vaccine progress; however, potential total losses could drop to $53 billion under a scenario with consistent volume recovery, rapid vaccine progress and a sustained drop in COVID-19 cases, according to a study from Kaufman Hall. "Whether recovery from COVID-19 in 2021 is relatively rapid or relatively slow, America's hospitals will face another year of struggle to regain their financial health while providing necessary care and services to a nation that is continuing to experience the effects of an unprecedented pandemic," Kaufman Hall noted.
An NIH study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found most people who contracted COVID-19 may be immune from reinfection for at least three months after recovery, due to the antibodies produced by their immune systems against the novel coronavirus. The findings, based on data from almost 3.3 million people, showed less than 1% of those with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies had evidence of the novel coronavirus in their systems after 90 days or longer.
Americans should stay vigilant and continue practicing COVID-19 prevention measures such as wearing masks, physical distancing and limiting in-person gatherings as vaccination continues and until the US achieves herd immunity, according to Lisa Maragakis, Johns Hopkins Health System's senior director of infection prevention. Speaking on AHIP's The Next Big Thing in Health podcast, Maragakis said one of the pandemic's greatest lessons over the past year is the importance of preparedness activities and having strong public health infrastructure, noting that investments in these areas will be critical going forward in preparing for the next pandemic.
Initial unemployment claims totaled 730,000 for the week ending Feb. 20, down from the 841,000 filed the week previous, and continuing claims decreased by 101,000 to just above 4.42 million, according to the US Labor Department. Pantheon Macroeconomics Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson attributed the decrease to the weather crisis in Texas and other states, and said claims are expected to increase next week.
The sponsors of defined contribution retirement plans broadly embrace the value of annuities, but sponsors of 403(b) and 401(k) plans express different levels of support, according to a survey from TIAA. Among 403(b) sponsors, 82% think their participants would be interested in a guaranteed lifetime income, while among 401(k) sponsors the figure was 67%.
The supplemental biologics license application approvals for Aptevo BioTherapeutics' Ixinity and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals' BeneFIX have been partially revoked by the FDA after determining that certain indications were already covered in the orphan drug exclusivity granted to Rixubis, a recombinant factor IX product from Baxalta. In letters sent to Wyeth and Aptevo, the agency noted that the adult prophylaxis indication is still in effect, and that Rixubis' orphan drug exclusivity will be effective until Sept. 12, 2021.
The price of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine likely will increase after the pandemic ends to bring it more in line with prices for other vaccines, said Frank D'Amelio, Pfizer's chief financial officer. The company also plans to ramp up production, D'Amelio said.
Icon announced it will buy PRA Health for $12 billion in cash and stocks. "The combined company will create a new paradigm for accelerating clinical research and bringing new medicines and devices to market," said Icon CEO Steve Cutler.
Florida resident Talia Alexandre entered a guilty plea to one count of receiving kickbacks in connection with a health care program, and Stefanie Hirsch of Los Angeles pleaded guilty to violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Authorities said Alexandre and his co-defendant Nathan LaParl sold personal and medical data of Medicare patients to an individual named Juan Buitrago, who used the patient data to submit over $109 million fraudulent and false claims for durable medical equipment, while Hirsch, who owned a Medicare-enrolled wheelchair and scooter repair company, allowed LaParl access to a confidential clearinghouse which contained personal health information for Medicaid patients.
Pennsylvania-based Source One Pharmacy Services agreed to pay $225,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act. The lawsuit alleges that Source One Pharmacy, a closed-door pharmacy, improperly dispensed and distributed controlled substances, as well as failed to do maintain records and keep precise inventories of controlled substances.
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