Two Republican members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee announced the release of recommendations for testing and surveillance they said would put the nation in a more favorable position for dealing with future spikes in the COVID-19 pandemic. Reps. Greg Walden (Ore.) and Brett Guthrie (Ky.) said this first set of recommendations are the first in a series of working documents, and noted that as of May 8, nearly 950 drive-through testing sites were in operation in the U.S., with at least one such site in each U.S. state. Should the U.S. be able to conduct 1 million tests per month, testing volume would exceed the daily testing requirement for containment of the pandemic as projected by the Harvard Global Health Institute’s recommendation of 900,000 tests per day. One of the recommendations is to test everyone who is symptomatic for COVID-19, and to test residents and employees of nursing homes regardless of symptomatic status. Guthrie and Walden said a secondary priority is testing of those with symptoms that are not ordinarily associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, prioritized for those employed in health care facilities and first responders. This may be increased to include those working in meat-packing plants.
The U.S. Senate voted 51-40 to confirm Brian Miller as the special inspector general (IG) for pandemic recovery, a position created to provide oversight of the funds provided by Congress for the COVID-19 pandemic. Miller previously served as the IG for the General Services Administration from 2005 to 2014, and as counsel to President Trump.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it supports the interim final rule posted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for telehealth benefits for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. FTC said it supports provisions that eliminate or reduce Medicare payment requirements for both telehealth and other communication technology-based services, which can alleviate primary and specialty care service shortages. The comment also notes that the CMS might use the experience gained during the pandemic to consider which policy measures should be permanently adopted.