Policy and advocacy sessions sparked robust discussions at HFA’s recently concluded 2020 Symposium! Thank you to all who attended – it was wonderful to “see” you at our virtual event. For those who couldn’t join us in real time, you can still view the recorded sessions on your own schedule for the next few months via HFA’s website. Check in for tips on dealing with common insurance issues, including accumulator adjusters; hear an update on HFA and NHF’s actions with respect to product safety; learn how to make Medicare work for you; explore global developments in bleeding disorders care through a presentation from the World Federation of Hemophilia; and much, much more.

Quick Hits:

  • On August 12, 2020, CSL Behring and Ferring Pharmaceuticals announced that Ferring is extending the recall of Stimate (desmopressin nasal spray) to the consumer/user level. This marks an expansion of Ferring’s initial July 2020 plans to conduct a narrower, pharmacy-level recall. HFA and NHF are still awaiting a complete response from Ferring and CSL Behring to the questions raised in our July 22nd
  • On August 4th, voters made Missouri the sixth state to expand Medicaid at the ballot box and the second (after Oklahoma) to make the expansion part of the state constitution. Because Missouri presently has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the nation, the expansion is expected to add at least 230,000 Medicaid enrollees for 2021. Meanwhile, Oklahoma withdrew its application to convert its Medicaid program to block grant funding, which would have been more restrictive than the straightforward Medicaid expansion approved by voters in June 2020. In other Medicaid news, Nebraska’s voter-mandated Medicaid expansion began enrollment on August 1st and received nearly 2,700 applications in the first six days. Coverage for Nebraska enrollees starts October 1st.
  • The month of August saw developments in a number of federal health-related lawsuits, including:
    • The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear oral argument in the case of Texas v. Californiaon November 10, 2020 – one week after the election. HFA and other patient groups have filed an amicus curiae brief in Texas v. California urging the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
    • A federal district court in New York halted the implementation of a recent Trump Administration rule that seeks to roll back antidiscrimination protections under Section 1557 of the ACA.
    • HFA also joined with 11 other patient groups on an amicus brief in a separate case, ACAP v. Treasury, challenging a 2018 federal rule that expanded the availability of short-term health insurance plans. The patient groups argued that encouraging the uptake of short-term plans harms the individual insurance market. Younger and healthier people flock to cheaper, short-term coverage (risking under-insurance); as a result, people with pre-existing conditions have to pay ever-higher premiums for the comprehensive coverage they need.
  • Over the month of August, President Trump signed a number of health- and COVID-related Executive Orders and Presidential Memorandums. These included:
    • A “Buy American” Executive Order calling on federal agencies to purchase “essential drugs” and medical supplies manufactured in the U.S. rather than overseas;
    • A Memorandum laying out a complex formula for extending unemployment benefits for an additional 6 weeks, albeit at reduced levels from the CARES Act, and covering a narrower group of workers;
    • A Memorandum allowing employers to defer payroll taxes from September 1 through December 31, 2020; and
    • An Executive Order to “minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures” during the COVID-19 emergency.

An additional drug pricing order – which President Trump said would be released on August 24th – did not materialize by the stated deadline. The White House had said that this as-yet unpublished order would tie the price of certain doctor-administered drugs to the lower prices paid for those drugs overseas (“most favored nation” pricing).

Lawmakers and legal observers note that many of these executive actions will face legal challenge, won’t become effective without federal agency rulemaking, and/or will be problematic to implement.

  • Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation making the state the fifth to ban or restrict the use of harmful copay accumulator adjusters that prevent manufacturer or non-profit assistance from being applied to patient cost-sharing obligations.
  • Federal regulators issued new guidance allowing ACA Marketplace plans to temporarily reduce 2020 premiums during the COVID19 pandemic (so long as the reductions are also permitted under state law). Existing regulations prohibit such midyear changes.


Sign up for E-mails, Dateline Magazine, and other ways to stay connected.