government

health

Veteran-Owned Healthcare Company Awarded Medical Equipment Government Contract Valued at $450 Million

Alliant Healthcare Products will provide the Department of Defense and other federal agencies with a customer-friendly source for innovative medical products via new PMCE contract

Grand Rapids, Michigan –News Direct– Alliant Healthcare Products

Alliant Enterprises (dba Alliant Healthcare Products) has been awarded a Patient Monitoring & Capital Equipment (PMCE) contract by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) valued at $450 million over 10 years. The contract includes medical products from many of Alliant’s high-profile OEM partners, including Olympus America Inc., Philips Healthcare, Skytron, LINET Americas, Belimed Inc., PROCEPT BioRobotics, Veran Medical Technologies, and many others. The PMCE contract is pre-established and pre-vetted by the government as a source for medical equipment and acts as one of the preferred purchasing platforms for the Department of Defense (DoD).

From robotic-assisted surgical devices to hospital beds and endoscopy equipment, this contract will help America’s service members gain access to more than 8,000 best-in-class medical devices and products over the next 10 years. When it comes to new and innovative technology, the lengthy and arduous procurement process has historically limited the ability of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and DoD to quickly and efficiently purchase critical products. This contract will remove some of the bureaucratic red tape and pave the way to a smoother procurement process for federal government customers, ensuring veterans and active duty military personnel have quicker access to new technologies and life-saving medical equipment.

“This PMCE contract solidifies Alliant’s position as one of the leading providers of medical equipment to the federal government. As a service-disabled veteran-owned small business, we strive to serve those who are actively working to protect our country,” said Eric Albery, President, Alliant Healthcare Products. “As a result of this contract, Alliant is able to provide federal government customers with access to some of the most advanced medical equipment on the market, through an efficient, net-centric ordering, distribution and payment system.”

“Olympus and Alliant have established a high-trust relationship based on mutual respect and alignment of goals to meet the unique equipment needs of the federal government,” said Steve Wendt, Vice President for Government and Distributor Relations, Olympus America Inc. “We are excited to work with Alliant to successfully implement this new agreement administered by the Department of Defense, which will bring additional visibility to Olympus’ innovative technologies and make them more accessible to our nation’s service men and women, and our country’s veterans.”

“There is no community more deserving, and we look forward to working with Alliant to understand how we can better serve the needs of veterans, active duty service men and women, as well as federal health facilities,” said Derek Farias, National Director Government Channel, Philips Healthcare.

The new PMCE contract is effective immediately for government customers, adding to Alliant’s arsenal of pre-established government contracts for medical products. Founded in 2002, Alliant Healthcare has become a trusted and respected staple within the federal government healthcare market, working closely with the DoD, VA, Indian Health Service, National Institute of Health and many

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health

Federal government to pay for coronavirus vaccine for all Americans

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will pay for any Covid-19 vaccine that is authorized or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to allow for “broad vaccine access and coverage for all Americans.”



a person wearing a mask: WORCESTER, MA - SEPTEMBER 4: Hilda Ramirez receives an injection from RN Bethany Trainor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA on September 04, 2020. Ramirez is taking part in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)


© Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images
WORCESTER, MA – SEPTEMBER 4: Hilda Ramirez receives an injection from RN Bethany Trainor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA on September 04, 2020. Ramirez is taking part in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The agency also announced it will help cover a larger portion of the cost of new Covid-19 treatments that may be coming down the pipeline for Medicare recipients.

“There are several vaccines in Phase 3 trials, production and distribution plans are well underway, and CMS is doing its part by laying the essential groundwork for coverage and payment when a vaccine does arise. It’ll be widely available and accessible to seniors and every American,” CMS administrator Seema Verma said during a briefing Wednesday.

She said that while the federal government is paying for the vaccine, insurers including Medicare, Medicaid and private plans must cover the cost of administering it.

For Medicare recipients, any future vaccine would be covered by Medicare Part B as a preventative vaccine at no cost to beneficiaries. Medicare Part B covers doctor visits and outpatient services such as lab tests, diagnostic screenings and medical equipment.

“The rule removes any existing ambiguity surrounding Medicare’s coverage of the Covid-19 vaccine and allows us to focus on the paramount goal of ensuring that all of Medicare’s 62 million beneficiaries, including those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, can receive the vaccine at their provider, their choice, again, at no cost,” said Verma.

She estimated that if “literally every senior got immunized,” it would cost “likely around $2.6 billion — that’s if everybody got vaccinated in the Medicare program.”

The new CMS rule requires most private health insurance plans, including individual health insurance and employer health plans — representing about 200 million Americans, according to Verma — to provide both in-network and out-of-network coverage of the vaccine, at no cost to their members.

The agency said that as a condition of receiving free Covid-19 vaccines from the federal government, providers may not charge people for administration of the vaccine.

“Providers who receive free Covid-19 vaccines from the federal government will be prohibited from charging consumers any additional costs for the administration of the vaccine beyond what their insurance covers. Surprise or balanced billing for vaccine costs is strictly prohibited,” she said.

The 68 million beneficiaries on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Programs will also be covered for their Covid-19 vaccines during the public health emergency; the Provider Relief Fund will cover the cost for those without insurance coverage.

In addition to covering the cost of a vaccine, the new CMS rule also outlines how Medicare plans to cover the “new generation of Covid-19

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fitness

Ontario fitness industry urges members to pressure Ford government to allow gyms to reopen

Goodlife Fitness is urging its members to pressure the Ontario government to allow gyms to reopen in parts of the province where they’ve been forced to close because of rising COVID-19 cases.

In an email sent to members across the province Tuesday, the fitness giant is encouraging its members to write a letter to their local MPP, Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott among others.

“Between mandated shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and ongoing questions about the safety of fitness facilities, our industry is facing the most difficult time in its history,” the email reads.

Jason Sheridan, senior vice-president of operations at Goodlife, said the email was sent to more than 175,000 members.

The campaign is led by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada. Other businesses who are part of the industry council will also take part.

“Through this campaign . . . we are keen to advance the discussions with the Ontario government and public health and to help co-create any enhanced guidelines for gyms across Ontario,” Sheridan told the Star.

“We are open to navigating this situation together and working to develop solutions that would allow us to continue to invest in the health and wellness of Ontarians.”

The letter, sent with the subject line Stand Up for Fitness, discusses the impact the shutdown has had on the province’s fitness industry, citing the benefits of physical benefits on mental health during the pandemic and reducing the strain on local health-care systems as a result.

As cases spiked in the province, and concerns that group activity in indoor spaces may be adding to the transmission of the virus, Ford ordered the closure of all gyms in Ottawa and parts of the GTA on Oct. 10.

In Quebec, a group of fitness centre owners says its members are no longer planning to open Thursday in defiance of that government’s lockdown orders.

On Monday, a coalition of more than 250 gym owners threatened to open their doors this week, prompting a warning from Premier Francois Legault that they and their clients would be fined.

Gym owners in Ontario have not gone that far, but are still heated over the impact from the temporary closure.

The office of Lisa MacLeod, Ontario minister of heritage, sport and tourism, acknowledges the struggles the fitness industry is going through but says the government will continue to follow public health advice.

“This is a difficult time for so many businesses that are already struggling, which is why we are working hard to make $300 million available as soon as possible to cover fixed costs,” minister spokesperson Dakota Brasier said.

“We will continue to take prudent and progressive action to reopen based on expert public health advice as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Sweat and Tonic, a Toronto boutique fitness studio is part of an online petition in collaboration with the Ontario Independent Fitness Studios Association and 300 other businesses to advocate for the re-opening of fitness studios.

Morgan Thomas, general manager at Sweat and

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health

Government Payment Rules Are the Culprit on Infusion

Scientists work with a bioreactor at a Regeneron Pharmaceuticals facility in New York, Oct. 2.



Photo:

/Associated Press

Regarding Drs. Scott Gottlieb and Mark McClellan’s “Where Do I Go to Get My Covid Antibody Cocktail?”(op-ed, Oct. 19): They are right regarding the need for the government to prime the pump to stimulate the development of private infusion clinics for Covid patients. However, they overstate the associated problems.

Infusion clinics are quite simple, requiring only a room, one registered nurse, four patients and IV poles. Infusion pumps are generally not necessary. The big issue is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ payment scheme for professional services, which is in the range of $60-$70 per infusion, regardless of how long it takes (many exceed four hours for allergy and neurology services). Hence, the profit in such centers hinges on the split between the cost of the drug and the amount a payor gets reimbursed for it. In such circumstances, volume is the key to financial stability.

If CMS will change its reimbursement methodology to reimburse professional services by the hour infused, and reimburse for drugs with modest profit for the provider, there will be no shortage of clinics.

Robert Chiffelle

Phoenix

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health

Walmart sues US government in dispute linked to opioid crisis

Retail giant Walmart filed suit Thursday against the US Justice Department over what it said was an unfair attempt to hold it legally responsible for certain sales of opioid drugs.

The lawsuit is the latest legal battle linked to the opioid crisis in the United States, where widespread abuse has led to government efforts to address the problem and hold drugmakers accountable.

In its lawsuit brought before a federal court in Texas, the US retailer says its pharmacists and pharmacies were being put “in an untenable position” by the government.

The suit, which also names the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), says Walmart was acting preemptively to head off a separate civil suit that the Justice Department has been preparing to file against it.

Walmart said the government’s rules were unclear and that pharmacists could not be expected to know when a prescription written by a licensed doctor should not be filled.

“Walmart and its pharmacists should not be held responsible for the government’s failures to address the opioid crisis,” the suit says.

With the help of aggressive marketing from pharmaceutical companies, particularly through doctors, prescriptions for highly addictive opiate painkillers that had previously been reserved for serious cases skyrocketed in the late 1990s.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 Americans have died of opioid overdoses — both prescription and non-prescription — since 1999.

Walmart accuses the DEA of seeking to pass blame for its failures.

It alleges the agency “authorized manufacturers to produce ever-increasing quantities of the drugs, and largely abandoned its most potent enforcement tools against bad actors.”

It also said that “nearly 70 percent of the doctors whose prescriptions” the government intends to challenge “maintain their DEA prescription privileges to this day.”

Walmart alleges the government has spent years and considerable amounts of money on a criminal investigation that has not produced an indictment and was now turning to a civil lawsuit instead.

It is calling on the court to state that the company and its pharmacists are not subject to the legal responsibility with which the government is seeking to brand it.

Other large companies, including drug distributors Cardinal Health and McKesson, have been targeted in lawsuits by local and state authorities that accuse them of turning a blind eye to millions of opioid prescriptions despite knowing their addictiveness.

A settlement was reached between three distributors and two Ohio counties in October 2019, raising the possibility of a larger settlement.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the drug OxyContin, had agreed to plead guilty as part of a deal worth some $8.3 billion.

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health

Most People Would Get COVID-19 Vaccine if Offered by Government or Employer: Poll | Top News

LONDON (Reuters) – Most people would get a COVID-19 vaccine if their government or employer recommended it, results of a global poll showed on Tuesday, amid growing concerns about public distrust of the shots being developed at speed to end the pandemic.

Some 71.5% of participants said they would be very or somewhat likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine and 61.4% reported they would accept their employer’s recommendation to do so, according to the survey in June of more than 13,000 people in 19 countries.

The poll was overseen by the Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP), a global surveillance programme on vaccine trust funded by the European Commission and pharmaceutical companies among others, as well as Business Partners to CONVINCE, a U.S./British initiative that is partly government funded.

All respondents, regardless of nationality, said they would be less likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine if it were mandated by employers.

There were regional differences in responses though, highlighting the polarisation in attitudes on the topic.

Almost 90% of participants in China said they accepted a vaccine, but the rate in Russia was less than 55%. In France, the positive response rate 58.89%, compared with 75.4% in the United States and 71.48% in Britain.

At least 60-70% of the population would need to have immunity to break the chain of transmission, according to the World Health Organization.

Respondents were aged 18 years or older from 19 countries from among the top 35 countries affected by the pandemic in terms of cases per million population.

The results will likely stir the debate about how to overcome public safety concerns, particularly in Western countries, about the frenetic speed of work to develop vaccines, potentially hampering efforts to control the pandemic and revive the global recovery.

There are about 200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development globally, including more than 40 in human clinical trials to test for safety and effectiveness. Many are being squeezed into a matter of months for a process that would typically take 10 years or longer.

Scott Ratzan, co-leader of Business Partners to CONVINCE and lecturer at CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, said the data demonstrated diminished public trust.

“It will be tragic if we develop safe and effective vaccines and people refuse to take them,” he said in an email.

“We need to develop a robust and sustained effort to address vaccine hesitancy and rebuild public confidence in the personal, family, and community benefits of immunisations.”

Reporting a willingness to get vaccinated might not be necessarily a good predictor of acceptance, as vaccine decisions can change over time.

Also the poll took place before Russia started the mass inoculation of its population with its Sputnik V shot before full studies had been completed and AstraZeneca

had to pause its late-stage study in September due to a participant’s illness.

Last month, nine leading U.S. and European vaccine developers issued a pledge to uphold scientific standards and testing rigour.

Last week, Facebook Inc

said it would start banning

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health

UK needs three-week lockdown for COVID reset: government adviser

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown restrictions immediately to stop cases of COVID-19 spiralling, government scientific adviser Jeremy Farrar said, adding that current regional measures would not be effective.

“The current tiered restrictions will not bring the transmission rates down sufficiently or prevent the continued spread of the virus,” he said.

“A three-week period of nationally increased restrictions, with the right levels of financial support, will allow us to reset before winter, stop transmission spiralling, protect and prepare health services, give time to get the test-trace-isolate systems fully functional, and save lives,” he said.

Farrar, who is director of the Wellcome Trust and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said the response needed to be immediate because putting it off would only worsen and lengthen the crisis.

He told Sky News that the best time to have locked down was two to three weeks ago, but it wasn’t too late now.

Senior minister Michael Gove, however, said a two- or three- week national lockdown – named a “circuit breaker” by some – was not being considered.

“The spread and the nature of the disease does not merit that approach at the moment,” he told Sky News on Sunday.

Gove did concede that there were problems with the level of compliance with the rules already in place for those who tested positive for COVID-19.

He said the level of government support available for those who were required to self-isolate was kept under constant review.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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