Agencies Delay Several Transparency Requirements for Group Health Plans:
The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury have issued guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing several transparency-related requirements for group health plans and health insurers under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) and the transparency in coverage regulations.
In general, the FAQs delay the effective date of several transparency requirements and provide a good faith compliance standard for several of the other provisions pending further guidance. The FAQs also provide that for certain CAA provisions (i.e., ID card information requirements, provider directory requirements, continuity of care requirements), although the agencies intend to provide guidance through rulemaking, the guidance will not be provided prior to the effective dates (i.e., 2022 plan years). Therefore, the agencies provide that for these provisions plans and insurers should implement the requirements using a good faith, reasonable interpretation of the law until further guidance is provided.
Consumer Sentiments on Back to School/Back to Office Amid COVID-19:
The latest U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Tracker research, which looks at consumers’ plans for the fall season of back to school, back to office and the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on grocery shopping habits.
Notable highlights from the report on shifting consumer trends include:
- 60% of consumers now say it is acceptably safe to shop in person at food stores/markets, up from 50% in February 2021
- 87% say food retailers can attract them to shop in-person more via a hygiene or distancing measure
- Americans continue to place an emphasis on food as medicine amid the pandemic, with 35% reporting they eat more healthfully and 27% cutting back on indulgent food items.
This research also highlights consumer attitudes on the important role supermarket pharmacies can play in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysis finds that:
- Consistent with federal government estimates, approximately 70% of Americans are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19
- 13% received their vaccinations from supermarket pharmacies, and an additional 26% from stand-alone pharmacies
- 69% of those already vaccinated said they are very like to or definitely would receive a booster shot from their supermarket pharmacy when they become available.
As a result of Pfizer’s full approval, President Biden pressed businesses to implement vaccine mandates: “I’m calling on more companies in the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will help reach millions more people. If you’re a business leader…who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that — require it.” In government, 19 states, plus the nation’s capital and Puerto Rico, are already requiring at least some workers to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
In addition to fully approving the Pfizer vaccine, effective immediately, the FDA also extended the vaccine’s expiration date from six to nine months. Cartons and vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with an expiry date of August 2021 through February 2022 printed on the label may remain in use for three months beyond the printed date as long as authorized storage conditions between -90°C to -60°C (-130°F to -76°F) have been maintained. For more information, please refer to the FDA Emergency Use Authorization Fact Sheet and CDC Pfizer Vaccine Administration Overview.
Pfizer also announced that it has begun the process of applying for approval of a booster shot for people 16 years and older, an important step in the Biden administration’s plan to offer booster shots for all adults beginning on September 20. Booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are currently available only to people with weakened immune systems, under an FDA emergency authorization.
6/28/2012 Washington Council – Ernst & Young Legislative Alert US Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act