Advocacy Update

February 15, 2022

In this Issue:

UnitedHealthcare Responds to CAP About Designated Provider Program Concerns

UnitedHealthcare responded to the CAP’s and six other medical professional organizations’ objections to the insurer’s Designated Diagnostic Provider program. The groups had asked UnitedHealthcare to withdraw the updated program as it continues to undermine the patient-physician relationship, despite recent changes. The CAP works with private-sector insurers, like UnitedHealthcare, to safeguard access to pathology and laboratory services for patients across all settings.

The CAP was successful in getting UnitedHealthcare to make positive changes to the program after meeting with the insurer in 2021 and emphasizing the program’s burden and confusion, lack of transparency, and the potential for financial harm for patients. However, the CAP, along with the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Dermatology, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Rheumatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, and the Medical Group Management Association believe these changes did not go far enough and asked UnitedHealthcare to seek stakeholder input from physicians and medical groups on the Designated Diagnostic Provider program.

In its response, UnitedHealthcare refuted several of the objections, saying they want to “improve the quality and affordability of health care,” but are ready to meet and discuss further if needed. The CAP and the other groups remain concerned about the program’s design and unintended consequences for patients and are evaluating next steps.

The CAP will continue to engage with UnitedHealthcare on the Designated Provider Program and will update membership on any developments.

CAP Engages Senate Committee on PREVENT Pandemics Act

The CAP submitted comments to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee leadership on the Committee’s Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act (PREVENT Pandemics Act) discussion draft. The purpose of the PREVENT Act is to strengthen the nation’s public health and medical preparedness and response systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the February 14 letter to the HELP Committee, the CAP provided comments on and support for several keep areas of the discussion draft including, “expanded genomic sequencing and advanced molecular detection, enhancing public health surveillance of pathogens – particularly through the Advanced Molecular Detection program, improving recruitment and retention of the public health workforce, and modernizing the supply chain for vital medical products.”

Key elements of the discussion draft include strategies to:

  • Strengthen federal and state preparedness;
  • Improve public health preparedness and response;
  • Accelerate research and countermeasure discovery;
  • Modernize and strengthen the supply chain; and
  • Enhance the development of and combating shortages of medical products.

The CAP has also supported national testing and pandemic response strategy, including increased funding for critical manufacturing supply chain resilience and health infrastructure activities to address workforce capacity, health information technology, and disease surveillance.

CDC Expands Free COVID-19 Testing to 20,000 Sites

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Expansion of Screening and Diagnostics Task Force increased the availability of free COVID-19 testing access to vulnerable populations and economically depressed communities across the United States. The expansion will include free testing at 20,000 pharmacy sites by March 2022, the CDC announced on February 9. The CAP supports expanding health care access to underserved and disadvantaged communities nationwide.

The CDC has partnered with eTrueNorth (eTN) to perform the waived testing. The CDC task force said the sites chosen include those in communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. At present, there are about 10,500 free testing sites.

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Editor’s Note: Next Advocacy Update is March 1

Your Advocacy Update newsletter will take a scheduled break on February 21 and the next issue will be on March 1 2022. For more immediate updates, please check out our Twitter feed @CAPDCAdvocacy.