HHS Lawyer: Trump's Drug Card Plan Might Be Unlawful – Politico

With Rachel Roubein and Susannah Luthi

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– HHS 'top attorney warns that President Donald Trump's drug card plan could be illegaleven if officials tried to speed it up before election day.

– Senate Democrats want free coronavirus testing across Capitolciting the increasing risk to workers in the complex.

– Administration officials have denied that they have "herd immunity" as a pandemic strategyalthough praised some of the ideas and experts associated with the controversial movement.

WELCOME BACK TO MONDAY PULSE – Where we saw the Los Angeles Dodgers return to the World Series on the shoulder of their star-outfielder … who seemed to injure that shoulder instantly as it kicked off.

Do not start PULSE with post-game masking (or not). Tips too (Email protected) and (Email protected).

LET'S TALK ABOUT HEALTHCARE INEQUALITIES: We're hosting a virtual town hall on October 29th about the public health policies and solutions needed to resolve racial inequalities in the U.S. healthcare system – and we want your stories to help shape that conversation . Submit a 45 second video sharing your thoughts. We can post it on our town hall and then invite you to join our private Zoom discussion to continue the conversation.

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HEALTHY COMMUNITIES – Walmart brings affordable, high quality care to your community. The retailer offers free flu shots to its 1.5 million employees and makes this service available to customers in more than 4,700 locations. Learn more.

TRUMPS DRUG CARDS MAY BE ILLEGAL, TOP HHS LAWYER WARNING – HHS General Counsel warns that the president's plan to give seniors $ 200 discount cards to buy prescription drugs could be against electoral law, three officials said Knowing the legal concerns, POLITICOs Dan Diamant scooped up.

– – ROBERT CHARROW warns the timing and design of the plan could pose legal challenges, these officials said. For example, Charrow warned health officials that advancing the proposed $ 7.9 billion plan, which would be paid for by dipping into one of Medicare's trust funds, that officials such as CMS administrator Seema Verma would complete this month, Concerns would be raised inappropriately with federal funding so close to the election.

Charrow also advised officers to seek approval from the Department of Justice that oversees election crimes.

– These legal concerns have helped freeze the cards as Election Day approaches, writes Dan. Congressional Democrats have included probes in the plan, urging the GAO to conduct an immediate review.

"Trump plans to steal billions from Medicare to pay for an illegal voter bribery program to buy votes before the election," tweeted Rep. Bill Pascrell, chairman of the Subcommittee on Monitoring Paths and Means.

Administrative officials have also pulled back after POLITICO's October 8 report on how political candidates rushed to achieve the president's vision announced just three weeks ago.

Charrow and Verma did not respond to requests for comment, and an HHS spokesman said the department "does not comment on internal considerations".

FIRST IN THE PULSE: CALL SENATE DEMOCRATS FREE TESTING ACROSS CAPITOL – Senator Chris Murphy heads a letter demanding access to free Covid-19 testing for all complex employees, including those who work in Capitol restaurants, committees, or the U.S. Capitol Police.

"If these tests aren't done, everyone in the Capitol Complex is at risk," write Murphy and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., And 10 others Democrats to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., In a letter first shared with PULSE.

The senators say they are particularly concerned about the frontline workers who keep the Capitol running, citing data that at least 100 cases are known among non-legislative employees and contractors.

"We should thank them for these indispensable services by doing our best to keep them safe and healthy every day by adopting a comprehensive testing plan and other public health practices," wrote the Democrats, calling on the Senate to adopt a mandatory mask requirement. The House introduced this policy in July.

TALKING MASKS … PULSE saw a contrast on social media this weekend as Americans increasingly embrace the idea of ​​face coverings to fight the pandemic.

– "WEAR A MASK"is sweeping the internet. A parody video of" Be Our Guest "from Disney's" Beauty and the Beast "went viral (in a good way) on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, generating millions of viewers.

"Try not to be so grumpy / have some trust in Fauci," sing the animated characters. "Wear a mask! Wear a mask!" See the video with the lyrics of songwriter Noah Lindquist.

– Twitter removed anti-mask tweet from SCOTT ATLAS. The social media service deleted a tweet from the presidential adviser who claimed that “masks work? NO ”and the widespread use of masks is not supported.

The tweet violates a Twitter policy that prohibits sharing false or misleading misinformation about Covid-19 that could cause harm, a Twitter spokesman said. Atlas, who has no experience with public health or infectious diseases, named the moving censorship.

LET'S TALK ABOUT HEALTHCARE INEQUALITIES: We're hosting a virtual town hall on October 29th about the public health policies and solutions needed to resolve racial inequalities in the U.S. healthcare system – and we want your stories to help shape that conversation . Submit a 45 second video sharing your thoughts. We can post it on our town hall and then invite you to join our private Zoom discussion to continue the conversation.

PELOSI: COVID RELIEF BILL HINGES ON TODAY, MORNING – The House spokesman said on Sunday that the White House had less than two days to sign a deal with the Democrats to have a chance to work through a trillion-dollar bill before the elections.

The California Democrat said on ABC's "This Week" that she remained "hopeful" after a long call to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Saturday night. The two plan to speak again on Monday. But Pelosi added that the fate of aid "depends on the administration".

– Meanwhile: McCONNELL Discounts much tighter relief. The Senate will vote on extra money for the paycheck protection program on Tuesday and the rest of the half-trillion dollar coronavirus aid package on Wednesday, POLITICO's Marianne LeVine reports.

Democrats have already dismissed the GOP approach as inadequate and are not expected to support the proposals.

ALEX AZAR: STOVE IMMUNITY & # 39; NOT OUR POLICIES & # 39; – The HHS secretary on Sunday denied that the White House formally supports the controversial theory that the country can achieve widespread immunity by allowing the coronavirus to spread among healthy people.

"It is a desire to achieve herd immunity through vaccination," Azar said on NBC's Meet the Press.

– The Secretary of Health's comments come after some White House officials adopted the controversial Great Barrington Declaration, which focuses on protecting the vulnerable and encouraging young, healthy people to lead normal lives.

Presidential adviser Atlas touted the statement in a television interview last week, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The direction of the statement is precisely aimed at the president, who opens schools, opens society and protects the high-risk people, the elderly," said Atlas.

Meanwhile, the radiologist, who also serves as one of Trump's coronavirus advisors, has denied that he and the White House have urged the virus to spread to communities in order to achieve herd immunity.

REPORT: SOME BLACK LAWYERS DO NOT WANTSETTLE& # 39; SUBMITTED FOR HHS – That goes from a report by Axios & # 39; Hans Nichols, Alexi McCammond and Alayna Treene point out that HHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are typical landing spots for minorities. Instead, lawmakers want black leaders to be considered for high-level and "non-traditional" posts like finance if Biden is elected, writes Axios.

– PULSE's question: is this view widespread? HHS has been the center of so many policies or crises over the past decade, and the public health department would likely play an important role in a Biden administration that would oversee Covid's continued response.

COVID EXPOSED FLAWS IN EUROPEAN CDC – Coronavirus was the crisis against which the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control was built. Instead, the outbreak only served to illustrate the insignificance of the agency, reports Jillian Deutsch from POLITICO in Brussels.

With the coronavirus overwhelming the European Union bloc, the agency could do very little. Due to the limited mandate, budget and staff of the European CDC, it was not coordinable, notes Jillian. It can't be too intrusive without resisting. It cannot be too visible without being accused of exceeding its mandate.

Andrea Ammon, director of the European CDC, admitted in July that the agency is struggling to interpret the data submitted by EU member states. "We had big delays in the beginning," Ammon admitted in public comments.

– PULSE Notes: Other CDCs had their own problems. The Chinese CDC has been blamed for some missteps, such as the nation's failure to promptly share information. In the meantime, the CDC's flagship in the US has been bogged down in political battles and repeatedly incapacitated during the pandemic, as revealed by several investigations in the last week alone.

Court of Appeals Please Deny Hospital to Revisit TRUMP MEDICARE CUTS – The DC Circuit Court of Appeals will fail to review two decisions that upheld administration cuts in Medicare payments, POLITICO's Susannah Luthi reports.

The court said last week it would not re-examine a decision to maintain government cuts in drug payments for hospitals under the 340B program, Susannah writes. The court will also not review a decision confirming Medicare cuts to basic medical evaluation visits to outside hospital clinics. This step should align the payments with the payment of independent doctors.

Both regulations are a priority for CMS chief Verma, who has cited the need to overhaul payments to curb provider consolidation, notes Susannah.

A message from Walmart:

Walmart believes that every church should be a healthy church. That's why they're bringing affordable, high-quality care closer than ever. In addition to performing 4.75 million free health exams, the retailer is currently expanding health services, including primary care, dental care, and more – all at affordable prices. The retailer's pharmacists across the country are ready to help protect the health of yourself and your family. Learn more.

ATUL GAWANDE warns that scammers hunt "Covid scientists". The famous New York-based writer and surgeon announced that an impersonator had faked his identity to arrange interviews with scientists working on coronavirus. At least one scientist's personal accounts were hacked as a result of the fraud, Gawande said.

"These actors appear to be China Virus Lab Theory conspirators targeting scientists who have worked in Chinese laboratories," added Gawande.

KRISTEN O’BRIEN joined McDermott + Consulting as Vice President. Previously, she was a Principal in Health Industry Policy and Regulatory Practice for OFW Law.

What went wrong in Wuhan? The Financial Times looks at the difficult beginnings of China's response.

Infectious disease expert Tony Fauci told CBS "60 Minutes" that the government has curtailed his media appearances and that he is not surprised that Trump contracted coronavirus.

The sick leave policy passed by Congress in March appears to have prevented some Americans from contracting coronavirus. This is based on a detailed health study conducted by Emily Peck at HuffPost.

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