August 2, 2021
Newsletter | Tea Leaves

D.C. News:

  • Senators unveiled a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal on Sunday on after negotiators worked through the weekend. The 2,702-page bill is substantially narrower than the multitrillion-dollar plan envisioned by President Biden earlier this year, but includes a wide range of funding for roads, bridges, transit, broadband, and water. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday evening took the next procedural step to move the legislation forward, predicting it would pass the chamber in a “matter of days.” (Articles here, here, and here)

Health IT:

  • A new report by CB Insights found that investments in telehealth reached a record $5 billion in the second quarter of this year. The investments are more than double what they were in the second quarter of 2020. Investments in traditional telemedicine platforms declined, while virtual care, remote monitoring, and telepharmacy had growing shares of investments. Six telehealth firms also reached unicorn status. However, the report also found that late-stage investments outpaced money going into early-stage deals and investor exits also reached a record high. (Report here; Article here)                                                      

Life Sciences:

  • Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. raised the prices of their COVID-19 vaccines in their latest supply contracts with the European Union. The move comes amid supply disruptions, concerns about side effects from rival vaccine makers, and the potential need for booster shots. The deals were renegotiated after clinical trial data showed Pfizer and Moderna’s shots were more effective than those developed by AstraZeneca PLC and Johnson & Johnson. (Article here)


  • Health technology company WellSky announced is acquiring Healthify to scale up its social determinants of health (SDOH) initiatives. With Healthify’s capabilities, WellSky will connect providers across and within communities to identify social needs, search for social services, and coordinate care with an accountable network of community partners to improve outcomes and remove social barriers to health and wellness, executives said. The technology will enable WellSky’s clients to receive referrals and work with states, payers, and health systems without the burden of changing workflows or software systems. (Press release here; Article here)


  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) joined whistleblower complaints alleging Kaiser Permanente “upcoded” its Medicare Advantage patients’ illnesses in order to bill the federal government for more money. The DOJ claims the health insurer knew many patients had inflated “risk scores,” which help determine how much the government pays for their care, and failed to fix the errors. Kaiser pushed back, saying it is “compliant with Medicare Advantage program requirements” and will defend itself against the lawsuits. (Articles here and here)

Public Health/Prevention:

  • Anthony Fauci said that returning to the “lockdowns” of 2020 is unlikely despite reports of recent outbreaks among fully vaccinated people. He also warned that “things are going to get worse” as the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread and many people remain unvaccinated. Fauci also highlighted the effectiveness of the COVID-19 shots, comments that come as the Biden administration faces scrutiny for its handling of the latest surge in infections. (Article here, here, here, and here)