IHA Daily Briefing: Jan. 8

Friday, January 8, 2021
IHA Opposes Health Bills as Currently Proposed
Governors, AHA to Feds: Step Up Vaccine Distribution
CDC Reports on COVID-19 in Nursing Homes, Colleges
FDA Notice on Curative COVID-19 Test
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
2021 Illinois Suicide Prevention Summit – Now Free

IHA Opposes Health Bills as Currently Proposed
Earlier this week, members of the General Assembly’s Black Caucus introduced companion bills calling for major healthcare system/Medicaid program changes – House Amendment 1 to House Bill 5548 and Senate Amendment 1 to House Bill 3840. The bills are part of the Black Caucus’ comprehensive legislative package aimed at addressing inequities in policing and criminal justice; education and workforce development; economic access, equity and opportunity; and healthcare and human services.

The healthcare bills will be considered in the legislative “lame duck” session that starts today, with HB5548/HA1 scheduled for a hearing in the House Health Care Availability and Accessibility Committee tomorrow at 11 a.m., and HB3840/SA1 for a subject matter hearing in the Senate Executive Committee on Saturday at 1 p.m.

IHA has met with key sponsors of the healthcare bills to discuss our serious concerns about several provisions and their negative impacts on the healthcare system and patients, including potentially undermining financing of the state’s Medicaid program and jeopardizing patient safety. IHA commends the bill’s sponsors for their efforts to address important healthcare issues; however, we are disappointed that the proposals do not directly address health disparity/inequity issues nor healthcare transformation. Given the broad scope and major impacts of these 228-page bills, the General Assembly should NOT rush to take action on them in the abbreviated, five-day lame duck session.

We ask that members call their state Senator and Representative now and urge them to vote No or Present on House Amendment 1 to House Bill 5548 and Senate Amendment 1 to House Bill 3840, and to ask the sponsors of the bills to work with IHA to further discuss and address the hospital community’s concerns.

To look up your state legislators and their Springfield office contact information, click here, go to the “Find Officials” section, and fill in your local address information. To send emails to your legislators on this issue, click here.

Members are also urged to fill out a witness slip opposing HB5548 by clicking here. Be sure to mark “Opponent” in Section III Position.

To see IHA’s summary of the healthcare bills, click here; also see a fact sheet.


Governors, AHA to Feds: Step Up Vaccine Distribution
Governor J.B. Pritzker and the governors of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin yesterday sent a letter to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the federal government to begin distributing reserved COVID-19 vaccines to states immediately.

“In each of our states, vaccine delivery has been much slower than we anticipated, so it is imperative that the federal government distribute the vaccines it is holding on reserve. These vaccines will save millions of Americans from the unnecessary danger and hardship of contracting COVID-19,” said Governor Pritzker. “Up to now, this vaccine has only been offered to a very specific group of people at very specific location. Our states are ready to work alongside the federal government to expand vaccine distribution so that we can protect the wellbeing of all our residents, families, small businesses and our economy.”

The governors note that according to publicly reported information, the federal government currently has more than 50% of currently produced vaccines held back by the presidential administration for unknown reasons.
 
Meanwhile, the American Hospital Association (AHA) sent a letter to HHS Thursday, urging the department to take steps to speed COVID-19 vaccinations. AHA urged HHS to establish a process to coordinate national efforts among all the states, jurisdictions and stakeholders; maintain effective communication and answer questions expeditiously; and identify and resolve barriers to rapid deployment of doses. 

“We share your goal of rapidly vaccinating as many individuals as needed to get to a level of herd immunity that will allow this country to return to normal activities,” AHA said in its letter to HHS Administrator Alex Azar. “In the first few weeks of administering vaccines, hospitals have seen a number of barriers to smooth and effective vaccinations. We raise these to your attention so that you and your team can begin to eliminate the barriers and expedite vaccination.”  


CDC Reports on COVID-19 in Nursing Homes, Colleges
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports on COVID-19 in nursing homes and on college campuses.

The report on nursing homes, where COVID-19 among older adults is associated with higher rates of severe illness and death, found that rates of COVID-19 among residents and staff members increased during June and July 2020, and again in November. Trends in reported COVID-19 cases among nursing home residents and staff members were similar to trends in incidence of COVID-19 in surrounding communities. The CDC says increases in community rates might be associated with increases in nursing home COVID-19 incidence, and nursing home mitigation strategies need to include a comprehensive plan to monitor local SARS-CoV-2 transmission and minimize high-risk exposures within facilities.

The other report noted that increasing COVID-19 incidence was observed among young adults in August 2020, and outbreaks have been reported at colleges and universities. U.S. counties with large colleges or universities with remote instruction (n = 22) experienced a 17.9% decrease in incidence, and university counties with in-person instruction (n = 79) experienced a 56% increase in incidence, comparing the 21-day periods before and after classes started. Counties without large colleges or universities (n = 3,009) experienced a 6% decrease in incidence during similar time frames. The CDC says additional implementation of effective mitigation activities at colleges and universities with in-person instruction could minimize on-campus COVID-19 transmission and reduce county-level incidence.


FDA Notice on Curative COVID-19 Test
Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication about the risk of false negative results with the Curative SARS-CoV-2 test for COVID-19. To reduce the risk of false negative results, the test should be performed according to the instructions for use. Refer to the safety communication for more specific guidance.


State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 9,277 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 126 deaths.

The total number of cases in the state is 1,017,322 with a total of 17,395 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 118,665 test specimens have been processed, with a positivity rate of 7.8%. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from Jan. 1-7 is 8.5%, and the seven-day test positivity rate is 9.5%.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours decreased from 3,921 patients to 3,777 patients. Of that figure, 780 patients were in the ICU, with 422 patients on ventilators.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed more than 21.5 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (a daily increase of more than 279,000 cases), with 364,029 deaths.
 
Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard showed more than 86.7 million COVID-19 cases globally (a daily increase of more than 771,000 cases), with more than 1.89 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 37.9 million cases and more than 896,000 deaths.


2021 Illinois Suicide Prevention Summit – Now Free
IHA previously shared that the 2021 Illinois Suicide Prevention Summit will take place on Jan. 26 and 27, focusing on suicide prevention in healthcare, with an emphasis on youth suicide. This virtual conference is a joint effort of Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and members of the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance. Northwestern is providing up to 8 hours of CME credits and registration will now be free to all attendees, with existing registrants receiving refunds.

The event will educate providers on prevention and care, populations at highest risk and reducing access to lethal means. The target audience among healthcare providers includes specialists in emergency medicine, mental health, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, public health and social work.

For more information and to register, click here.