Updated May 8, 2018

The fight for new Medicare drug codes

Intersect ENT's Sinuva drug device. Photo: Intersect ENT

The federal government is holding public meetings next week to decide whether to create new Medicare billing code for 42 drugs and devices.

Why it matters: Many mundane Medicare policies and regulations, like new billing codes, are carried out under the radar. But those policies affect billions of dollars, and one company is already feeling a negative effect from a potentially adverse Medicare ruling.

The details: Several drug and medical device companies submitted applications to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services so their products can get a Medicare billing code — and they can get paid when those products are used.

  • The public agendas show CMS is rubber-stamping almost all of the applications for new permanent codes.

Yes, but: There's one major exception. CMS won't assign a new code to Sinuva, a sinus drug implant made by Intersect ENT, according to a preliminary decision.

  • Intersect ENT's stock price fell by more than 10% Monday, equating to a market cap loss of $130 million.
  • Wall Street analysts believe it is a "clerical error" and will change after company executives meet with federal officials next week.
  • Final decisions come in November, so there's still plenty of time for lobbying and persuasion.

The big picture: This is the busy part of Medicare regulation season. The feds just released proposed rules and payment rates for inpatient hospitals and other facilities that treat seniors. In addition to these new code rulings, look out for new Medicare rules for physicians, hospital outpatients and surgery centers.

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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.

Coronavirus spreads to Africa as U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

A 23-year-old American soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in South Korea has tested positive to the novel coronavirus, as the outbreak spreads to more countries.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. Public health officials confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has 57 people with the novel coronavirus, mostly those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health