STATE AMBULANCE ASSOCIATION SAYS SOME COMPANIES ARE NOT RECEIVING A RIGHTS SHARE OF THE COVID AID: The head of the State Ambulance Association fears that some of the state’s largest ambulance companies may not receive an adequate portion of the federal COVID-19 relief funds administered by the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services (HFS).
It’s about confusing and changing guidelines from the U.S. Treasury Department for reimbursable expenses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and how these changes have been communicated by the state to healthcare companies, said Chris Vandenberg, president of the Illinois State Association Ambulance,
When HFS opened a CARES application portal in late September, several larger ambulance companies, including its own, stepped in to fill out the forms. First, the portal asked companies to report the increased costs caused by COVID-19, he said. Treasury officials later said it would instead be reimbursed on a total cost basis, Vanderberg said, meaning those who applied early did not get their fair share.
Vandenberg, who heads three ambulance companies, said he has not yet received any news of his exact CARES award from HFS but believes he will get less than other companies that cost less.
“The process was botched,” Vandenberg said, and with all funds to be allocated at the federal level by December 31, there is little time to fix it. “We’re just saying, let’s make sure the funds are all fairly distributed.”
HFS Director Theresa Eagleson says the department clearly communicated the rescheduling guidelines to all applicants in an October email. The portal is open from September 29th to November 5th and companies like Vandenberg’s have been able to revise their applications by then.
She said she didn’t see the distribution as unfair overall, as ambulances and other transportation make up about 1 percent of the Medicaid budget but received $ 29 million out of the total of $ 705 million in CARES funding.
Vanderberg responded that “the lack of a standardized department email should not provide an opportunity for HFS to punish first responders while we are only trying to protect our employees during a pandemic”.
ADVOCATE AURORA WILL NOT REQUIRE EMPLOYEES TO TAKE COVID VACCINES: Attorney Aurora Health said Thursday that its employees will not need to take the much-anticipated Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine despite Dr. Robert Citronberg, the health systems senior medical director for infectious disease control, admitted that “mass vaccination is the only way.” out of this pandemic. “
A mandate, said Citronberg, is not yet appropriate because the vaccine is still very new and long-term data are not available. A staff mandate might be needed across the board once there are more data and more types of vaccines.
“A more prudent approach is to encourage people to use the vaccine,” he said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could give the country’s first COVID-19 vaccine an emergency clearance this week. Citronberg said during a news conference Thursday morning that Attorney Aurora was ready to begin vaccinating staff, which is expected to begin next week, pending state approval.
The first healthcare workers to receive the vaccine will be those who work directly with coronavirus patients in emergency rooms, intensive care units, or COVID-19 units. Attorney Aurora prepared super-fridges for the Pfizer vaccine, Citronberg said.
ILLINOIS LEGISLATORS WANT TO RETURN BILLIONS OF MCOS: State lawmakers are trying to force private insurers running the state’s Medicaid program to return some of the “record profits” made during the pandemic, and is introducing a measure that will cut 20 percent of registry-based payments to Medicaid managed care Redistributing funding organizations would safety nets and hospitals hardest hit by COVID-19.
State Senator Dave Koehler, one of the proposal’s sponsors, said that “insurance companies and managed care organizations are making record-breaking profits despite reduced healthcare use during the pandemic.”
The state already has a mechanism in place that forces managed care organizations to repay excess profits when underutilized. It recently tightened requirements during the pandemic so that 88 percent of bounties received are spent on direct medical care, up from 85 percent.
HFS Director Theresa Eagleson noted, “While the department saw a drop in occupancy in the spring, overall occupancy did not decrease significantly during the pandemic, which means MCOs are unlikely to earn more than they spent on medical expenses when the year is over. She also adds that the majority of the savings from the proposal would be “matching federal dollars that cannot be spent elsewhere.”
“The concept of a clawback has significant flaws,” she said in a statement. “Not only would this contradict federal requirements, actuarial best practices, and our contracts with MCOs, but the idea is unnecessary in the first place.”
TEMPUS LABS RECEIVES $ 200M, LOOKS BEYOND CANCER TESTS: Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky has raised an additional $ 200 million for his genetic testing and data company Tempus Labs, which moves from cancer to cardiology, diabetes, depression and infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Founded five years ago, the company has raised just over $ 1 billion in venture capital and grown to have more than 1,800 employees, including approximately 1,000 in Chicago. The funding is the second largest venture investment by a Chicago company this year, behind the $ 275 million raised by VillageMD, according to Pitchbook.
“Tempus is one of the fastest growing companies, if not the fastest growing, in the life sciences,” said John Conrad, CEO of the Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization. CONTINUE READING.
MEDICAL SOCIETY MEMBERS GET FREE ACCESS TO THE FITNESS CLUB: Chicago Medical Society members are offered free membership in gyms that are part of the Illinois Fitness Alliance.
Members will be offered a free membership from December 14 to February 1, 2021, which can be used at the East Bank Club in Chicago and all Midtown Athletic Clubs and Fitness Formula Clubs in Illinois, as well as a significant number of gyms across the globe Region. The Chicago Medical Society had previously urged the governor to relax Restrictions for gyms.
BAXTER GOES TO MEDICAL MANAGEMENT SERVICES COMPANY: Baxter International Inc. has announced an interest in acquiring Omnicell Inc., a provider of drug management services, according to people familiar with the matter. A final decision has not been made yet and the approach may not lead to a deal, people said.
Omnicell offers a range of services to help pharmacies, hospitals, and other healthcare companies distribute medication, from robots that dispense medication to software that helps pharmacists interact with patients, according to the website.
A Baxter representative from Deerfield declined to comment. Crains previously reported that a changing healthcare landscape could cause Baxter to become more open to acquisitions. CEO Joe Almeida told analysts on a conference call earlier this year that “there may be an opportunity for us to continue delving into the M&A landscape.” CONTINUE READING.
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE:
• The DuPage Medical Group has appointed two people to its senior management team. Jennifer McCusker will serve as chief people officer while Joel Nelson, former vice president of innovation at UnitedHealthCare, will become senior vice president of clinical innovation and patient experience.