Trump Administration's Initiatives to Cut Government Red Tape to Attack the COVID-19 Virus | Citizens Against Government Waste

Trump Administration's Initiatives to Cut Government Red Tape to Attack the COVID-19 Virus

The WasteWatcher

One of the first things the president did was create the White House Coronavirus Task Force in January to coordinate the administration’s response to the COVID-19 virus.  It is led by Vice President Mike Pence and includes Deborah Birx, M.D. as the White House coordinator, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci.  Their purpose is provide the most up to date information to the president and to oversee, contain, and mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

President Trump has been taking aggressive action through emergency orders to cut red tape for patients and healthcare providers during the COVID-19 crisis.  The orders provide flexibility within the current Medicare and Medicaid programs to help prevent the spread of the virus by protecting patients, increase desperately needed supplies to hospitals, and to safeguard healthcare workers.  He gave HHS Secretary Alex Azar broad authority to waive rules and regulations to respond to the epidemic.  This is just a partial list of what has been done.

  • The President loosened telehealth restrictions, such as payment rules in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  This will allow patients and doctors to utilize telehealth across state lines and permit doctors to provide services, even though they are not licensed to practice in those states.  It will be up to governors to allow providers to practice in their state if they are not already licensed there and governors have begun to do so, like in Texas and Kansas.  Many doctors have already obtained licenses in other states because they foresaw telemedicine as a growing market.  HHS also waived HIPAA (privacy) penalties to allow healthcare providers to care for patients using telehealth.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is allowing private and public laboratories to develop coronavirus test kits prior to obtaining emergency use authorization.  The states have been given the power to act as an FDA surrogate to oversee the kits being developed and the laboratories using them.
  • A clinical trial has already started for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • CMS has suspended the requirement that a Medicare patient must spend at least three days in the hospital before Medicare will pay for nursing home services.  This action will free up hospital beds and while providing Medicare beneficiaries the care they need.
  • CMS provided new guidance to nursing homes, restricting access all visitors and non-essential personnel for most visits to protect elderly patients.
  • CMS created an amendment to the Disaster State Plan to streamline the request process for states to make changes to their Medicaid programs during disasters.  This amendment allows temporary coverage to various groups, adds special benefits, telehealth coverage, and an increase in provider reimbursements.
  • The president signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act, which delegates the HHS secretary to order production and healthcare supplies as needed.  But companies like 3M, Tesla, Ford, and GM are voluntarily stepping up to produce N95 masks, a special mask that prevents the inhalation of 95 percent of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in size, and much needed ventilators.
  • The Navy will be deploying two medical ships, the U.S.N.S. Mercy, which will be going to Los Angeles and its sister ship, the U.S.N.S. Comfort, is heading to New York City in April.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is funding the deployment of supplies from the national stockpile to those areas with the greatest need. These supplies include items like medical beds, gloves, and face masks.

This is a shortened list of what is happening within the administration and throughout all federal agencies.  The White House and the CDC have websites that provide information on how to slow the spread of the virus and up-to-date information on what is happening with the COVID-19 virus. 

The president has said our nation is at war with an invisible enemy and it is important for all Americans to play our part in making sure this virus is defeated.

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