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What We’re Watching: February 18, 2020


The coronavirus (COVID-19) remains a top public health issue and we are continuing to keep an eye on it. This Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on the FY 2021 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget and will be focusing on the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What we’re saying: There is increased concern about possible supply shortfalls of personal protective equipment (PPE). Premier staff has been working with our suppliers, distributors, members and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assure that our members and the nation are protected from a demand surge. This work includes partnering with the CDC and FDA to understand the current inventories for certain PPE. Last week Premier hosted a webinar to share the latest updates on the impact of this disease in the U.S., specifically on the risk to our supply chain of PPE products and recommendations to limit the risk to our nation’s healthcare systems and patients. Learn more about what we’re seeing.


Premier’s ProvideGx program announced a new partnership with Pfizer.

What we’re saying: Through the partnership, Pfizer will supply Corvert and Vincristine Sulfate Injection, USP, to healthcare providers, to help stabilize the long-term supply for Premier’s members. Corvert is an anti-arrhythmic heart medication used to treat atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Vincristine is a chemotherapy drug, primarily used to treat childhood cancers such as acute leukemia, and Hodgkin's and non- Hodgkin's lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma and Wilms’ tumor.


The proposed interoperability and data access rules are expected to be released soon by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

What we’re saying: Premier is eagerly awaiting release of these rules on interoperability, patient access and information blocking. We anticipate that they will be the focus of much discussion at HIMSS (March 9-13).


Medicare ACOs in our collaborative have consistently outperformed the nation in achieving shared savings and improving quality.

What we’re saying: We think that’s great but even more interesting is that the Premier members that recently underwent mergers achieved above average quality scores. These findings come on the heels of a recent study asserting that consolidation is not associated with better quality of care. They must be doing something right, which is why we think CMS needs to either extend the Next Generation ACO program or modify the Direct Contracting Model to ensure this progress continues. Let us know if you want the embargoed release and/or are interested in talking to us or one of our member ACOs about these programs and why they’re so important in the movement to risk.


CMS Administrator Seema Verma vowed the agency would be taking action to improve the prior authorization process this year.

What we’re saying: The first step could likely be the proposed rule pending release relating to “standards for healthcare attachments.” There’s currently no standard format for how electronic attachments (test results, X-rays, etc.) are sent to insurers for prior authorization. Premier is helping to advance The Improving Seniors' Timely Access to Care Act of 2019 (H.R. 3107), which would require automated prior authorization of routinely approved services by Medicare Advantage plans based on nationally adopted standards. The bill has >175 co-sponsoring House members. We’re also testing our prior authorization solution with payers. Happy to talk about the steps we’re taking to further remove the burdens of prior authorization for both providers and patients.


  1. Executive Briefing: State of Supply Chain and COVID-19
  2. Stemming The Spread of COVID-19
  3. Premier Inc. ProvideGx™ Program Partners with Pfizer Inc. to Provide Corvert® and Vincristine to Providers
  4. Premier Recommends Modifications to Medicare Direct Contracting Model
  5. Medicare ACOs in Premier Inc. Collaborative Outperform Peers in Shared Savings by 21 Percent
  6. Dr. Stella Safo Named to Modern Healthcare’s Minority Leaders to Watch List
  7. Inundated With Flu Patients, U.S. Hospitals Brace for Coronavirus
  8. Premier Inc. to Acquire Acurity and Nexera Businesses from the Greater New York Hospital Association
  9. What High-Value Implants Teach Us About Margin Management
  10. Coronavirus Scare Highlights Challenges in U.S.-China Supply Chain

What We’re Watching is a bi-weekly blog focused on the current events Premier is following and their relevance to the work of Premier and its members. Check out our last update!

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