As of the writing of this update (8/31/20) Congress is currently in recess and unfortunately those in the know on Capitol Hill don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel for a compromise on a final COVID-19 bill.
Because of the stalemate in Congress the President has been quite busy on the regulatory front. He issued three notices of memorandum and an executive order relative to COVID-19 relief and four other executive orders relative to prescription drugs.
The COVID-19 Executive Orders/notices of memorandum include the following:
· Deferment for payroll taxes for those earning less than $100,000 a year
· Putting a hold on evictions and giving financial assistance to renters
· Adding $400 a week in extra unemployment benefits (Requiring states to cover 25% of those benefits)
· Postponing student loans interests and payments until the end of the calendar year
Agencies are still trying to determine which one of these executive orders they have the power to put forward. The payroll tax deferral is set to go into effect on 9/1, however there is concern because unless congress acts the deferred tax would have to be paid back in 2021 and could result in interest or penalties.
The series of executive orders on prescription drugs included the following:
· End drug rebates used by "health plan sponsors, pharmacies or [pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs)] in operating the Medicare Part D program," instead requiring affected entities to pass those rebates directly to patients
· Expand and improve options relating to drug re-importation from Canada
· Protecting the cost of insulin and epinephrine
· Create a most favored nation status for drugs on Medicare Part B
The NAHU Task Force to Lower Prescription Drug costs have met about the orders and are keeping a close eye out for regulation and guidance.