coronavirus

via the Massachusetts Health Connector:

Massachusetts Health Connector offers extended enrollment for uninsured individuals to ease coronavirus fears

BOSTON – March 11, 2020 – To ensure everyone who wants access to covered coronavirus services has it, the Massachusetts Health Connector announced today that uninsured residents can apply and get into coverage through a 45-day window running until April 25.

On March 6, the Division of Insurance announced that Massachusetts health insurers are now required to cover the cost of testing and treatment for members who may be affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), including not charging co-pays or deductibles for those services. The Health Connector’s decision to open enrollment to anyone without coverage ensures Massachusetts residents concerned about contracting coronavirus can access necessary services without cost barriers.

A few days ago, in light of HHS Secretary Alex Azar admitting that neither he nor anyone else at the HHS Dept. appears to have the slightest idea about how many Americans have actually been tested for coronavirus, I kiddingly mused:

Maybe I should register CoronaTestCount.net and start up an amateur spreadsheet to track this by state for the HHS Dept...hmmmm...

I was kidding, however, because my own plate is simply too full to take on that task as well.

Fortunately, I don't have to, because someone else has already stepped up to do exactly that. Via Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo:

Well, this was inevitable:

Michigan announces first presumptive positive cases of COVID-19

Governor Whitmer declares a state of emergency to maximize efforts to slow the spread

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Oakland County Health Division and Wayne County Health Department announced today that two Michigan residents tested presumptive positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the first confirmed cases in the state. The governor has declared a state of emergency to maximize efforts and assist local governments and officials to slow the spread of the virus.

"We are taking every step we can to mitigate the spread of the virus and keep Michiganders safe," said Governor Whitmer. "I have declared a state of emergency to harness all of our resources across state government to slow the spread of the virus and protect families. It’s crucial that all Michiganders continue to take preventative measures to lower their risk, and to share this information with their friends, family, and co-workers."

Washington becomes 1st state-based marketplace to create a special enrollment opportunity in wake of coronavirus threat. https://t.co/2bYCrboXvl @GtownCHIR

— Sabrina Corlette (@SabrinaCorlette) March 10, 2020

via the Washington Health Benefit Exchange:

Washington Healthplanfinder Announces Special Enrollment Period in Response to Growing Coronavirus Outbreak

 

Here's the full transcript verbatim:

"So, we've told you...we'll tell you what we know and don't know. So there's different types of tests which get sent out. The CDC's test that CDC is sending out, that's that 70...enough to send out 75,000 people, that was sent out last week. Those go to public health labs, about 80 labs in the United States, one in each state at least. Those report results back in to the CDC because they're part of the public health network. The larger quantity of tests that shipped, about 900,000 of the tests that shipped by this weekend, and then so many of the remainder of that 2 point...total, 2.1 million tests...those go to hospitals, private labs, others for testing...they don't currently have to report to us that they've conducted a test or what the result of that test is. The CDC is actively working right now to build that IT connectivity with them so we can gather that information. So right now...I could not give you a number of how many Americans have received a test because many will have received a test through hospitals or non-public health labs, and so...let's work with getting the system, the IT system up through the CDC, you want to get the accurate information as we go. 

Last week it was noted by several healthcare policy experts that if and when a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeping the entire planet is ever developed, under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies would be legally required to cover the full cost of it for anyone enrolled in an ACA-compliant policy:

SEC. 2713. COVERAGE OF PREVENTIVE HEALTH SERVICES.

(a) In General.--A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage shall, at a minimum provide coverage for and shall not impose any cost sharing requirements for--

(1) evidence-based items or services that have in effect a rating of 'A' or 'B' in the current recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force;

(2) immunizations that have in effect a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with respect to the individual involved; and

via Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont:

Governor Lamont Announces First Positive Case of Novel Coronavirus Involving a Connecticut Resident

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) State Laboratory has confirmed the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) involving a Connecticut resident. The patient, a resident of Wilton who is 40 to 50 years of age, is being treated at Danbury Hospital. The person most likely became infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 during a recent trip to California and sought medical care shortly after returning to Connecticut.

This presumptive COVID-19 case is not related to the COVID-19 case involving a Danbury Hospital employee who is a resident of New York State that was announced on Friday, or the COVID-19 case involving a community physician who made rounds at Bridgeport Hospital and is also a New York State resident that was announced on Saturday.

via David Eggert:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan health insurers said Friday they will cover the cost of medically necessary tests for the new coronavirus for people covered under employer and individual health plans, while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the waiving of testing and treatment fees for Medicaid recipients.

...Plans that will waive copays and deductibles for testing costs include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Care Network, Priority Health, CVS Health, McLaren and Meridian, according to the governor’s office. The change will not apply — for now — to large employers that self-insure but use insurance companies to administer their benefits.

...Blue Cross Blue Shield will forgo prior authorization rules for diagnostic tests and covered services to treat the disease, set aside refill limits on prescriptions, and expand access to telehealth and a 24-hour nurse hotline.

This just in from the Florida Insurance Dept:

TO ALL HEALTH INSURERS AND HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATIONS AUTHORIZED TO DO BUSINESS IN FLORIDA

~ INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) ~

In response to the Executive Order #2020-51 issued by Governor Ron DeSantis establishing COVID-19 response protocols and directing a public health emergency in Florida, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) is issuing this Informational Memorandum to all health insurers authorized to do business in Florida to help facilitate the state’s ongoing efforts to protect Floridians.

Heightened Communication and Customer Service

 

Vice-President Mike Pence, best known for botching the response to an HIV outbreak while Governor of Indiana (causing up to 200 additional residents to be infected with the disease due to his poor handling of it) has, naturally, now been put in charge of the federal response to the #COVID19 outbreak nationally:

On Wednesday February 26, President Trump placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The gesture was partly politics—signaling the disease was important enough to require the vice president’s attention—but also built on a claim about Pence’s expertise as the former governor of Indiana. As he assigned him to this task, the president praised Pence, maintaining that Indiana under his leadership was a model for the country in its approach to health.

OK, this is actually from two days ago but it's been kind of a busy news cycle...

Governor Whitmer Creates Task Forces to Combat Spread of Coronavirus

March 3, 2020 

Governor creates COVID-19 task forces focused on state operations, health care, education, and the workforce 

 LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of four task forces to combat the spread of coronavirus and assess the impact it may have on Michiganders’ day-to-day lives. The task forces include: 

This just in from the WA State Insurance Commissioner's office:

Kreidler orders Washington health insurers to waive deductibles and copays for coronavirus testing

Contact Public Affairs: 360-725-7055

March 5, 2020

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an emergency order to Washington state health insurers requiring them to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing  for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Insurers also must: 

 

I'm not sure how else to put this, but it's basically like if the mayor in Jaws not only refused to close the beach, but actually went on the radio and specifically told people with open wounds to go swimming and that the shark just wants to play tug-of-war with their legs.

As Vox journalist Aaron Rupar puts it:

In this clip, Trump:
1. Denies WHO's coronavirus death rate based on “hunch"
2. Calls coronavirus "corona flu"
3. Suggests it's fine for people w/ Covid-19 to go to work
4. Compares coronavirus to "the regular flu," indicating he doesn't get the difference

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 5, 2020

Suffice to say:

Yesterday the first confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported in the nation's largest city:

A 39-year-old Manhattan woman has tested positive for COVID-19, more commonly known as the novel coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said late Sunday. She is the first confirmed case in the city and in the tri-state area.

"The patient, a woman in her late thirties, contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran, and is currently isolated in her home," Cuomo said in making the announcement late Sunday.

The governor said that the woman is a health care worker, and that her background allowed her to take the appropriate precautions and seek testing. She flew back to New York on Tuesday but did not take mass transit home, Cuomo said Monday. As a precaution, the people on her flight and the ride-share driver are being notified about potential exposure, but Cuomo said the woman was not thought to be contagious at that time. She has respiratory symptoms but Cuomo described them as mild.

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