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Arlington National Cemetery: From Last Resort to Lasting Honor

Hot Topics | May 28th, 2021

As we prepare to observe Memorial Day this Monday, we thought it would be fitting to shed some light on how this national holiday is inextricably linked to Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). Burial at ANC, which is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., is considered by many today to be a great honor. However, it took decades for the Virginia cemetery to become America’s nation’s premiere military cemetery.

When ANC opened in 1864, it was one of dozens of national cemeteries that were established to bury soldiers who died fighting in the Civil War. At the time, interment in a national cemetery was a last resort – they were potters’ fields for soldiers whose families were unable to afford a private burial. ANC’s rise to prominence began in 1868 when Major General John Logan declared May 30 “Decoration Day” and had the graves of soldiers decorated with flowers.

As the link between Decoration Day and ANC solidified in the late 19th century, more veterans opted for burial at ANC helping to shift public perception. In the 20th century Decoration Day became Memorial Day, and it is now tradition for the President to address the nation and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at ANC each year.

We invite you to catch up with this week’s headlines today, and join us in honoring those who have served this Monday:

FDA butts in on tobacco regulation

  • Acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock confirmed the agency is exploring new regulations that would require tobacco companies to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. While the FDA cannot ban cigarettes or remove nicotine outright from tobacco products, the agency does have the authority to regulate the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. This news comes on the heels of a separate proposal by the FDA to ban Menthol cigarettes. (The Washington Post)

Democrats on the attack

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a “five-figure” digital advertising campaign to counter a Republican ad campaign framing their healthcare plans as “socialist.” The digital ad campaign is running in battleground districts, and comes as Congress negotiates whether or not to allow Medicare to negotiate prices for certain drugs. (Roll Call)

Questioning COVID’s origins

  • On Wednesday, President Biden asked the U.S. intelligence community to investigate the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and issue a report within 90 days. Though the lab leak theory was initially dismissed, members of the scientific community have recently lent credence to the theory. (The Hill, Associated Press- Washington DC Bureau)

Public request issued for public option

  • Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) have issued a public request for information, soliciting feedback on a proposed bill that would create a government-run public option health insurance plan. The request asks for feedback on a number of questions, such as what criteria should be considered when determining prices. Comments are due July 31. (The Hill)

If you enjoyed this excerpt from this week’s Policy News from Goodfuse, we invite you to email us at YourTeam@goodfuse.com to sign up for the full weekly “insider only” newsletter featuring fun-to-read round-ups of Hot Topics, breaking news and some quirky facts to make your Fridays Goodfused.

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A trip outside the Beltway

Hot Topics | May 21st, 2021

The past few months we’ve brought you quirky facts and interesting tidbits from inside the Beltway. As much as we love to hype our hometown, we do recognize that not all policy and regulatory decisions come from Washington, D.C. Today, we want to highlight some things you may not have known about other American cities that are home to institutions shaping American healthcare public policy:

  • Silver Spring, MD | Home of the FDA – During a 1976 interview with radio station KOME, Stevie Nicks stated she wrote Fleetwood Mac song “Silver Springs” after passing a sign for Silver Spring, MD on a highway.
  • Atlanta, GA | Home of the CDC – Robert Woodruff, former president of the Coca-Cola Company, played a role in securing land for the federal agency’s headquarters when it was founded in 1947. For his efforts, Woodruff was paid $10.
  • Baltimore, MD | Home of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – The Star-Spangled Banner was written when Francis Scott Key saw U.S. soldiers raise an American flag over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry to celebrate an important victory in the War of 1812.

And now to the Beltway (and Atlanta and Silver Spring) for this week’s headlines:

Head honchos in the hot seat

  • This week two industry CEOs faced sharp questions from Congress:
    • Emergent BioSolutions CEO Robert Kramer was questioned by a House panel on his company’s ability to fix issues at a Maryland plant that spoiled tens of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines, admitting the company’s quality control practices were not sufficient to identify the contaminated doses. (The Hill, Axios)
    • AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez was questioned by House lawmakers on the prices of his company’s anti-inflammatory drug Humira and cancer drug Imbruvica. Democrats on the panel accused Gonzalez of taking advantage of patients and the healthcare system by raising prices on these drugs. Gonzalez pushed back arguing that the structure of Medicare, specifically Part D, is responsible for issues many un- and underinsured patients have accessing drugs. (The Hill)

Biden revives bioeconomy plans

  • A bipartisan group of senators has revived a Trump administration proposal to create a unified strategy for the way the United States regulates the bioeconomy, which includes everything from lab grown meat to CAR-T therapies for cancer. The legislation, which is currently known as the Bioeconomy Research and Development Act, could be sent to the White House for President Biden’s signature as early as this fall. (STAT)

SCOTUS takes abortion case

  • The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case related to a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that has the potential to transform the 50-year old precedent set by Roe v. Wade. In their order, the Court said they would review just one question: “whether all bans on abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb are constitutional.” (POLITICO) While scholars do not expect the Court to overturn Roe entirely, a narrowing of the Roe precedent would most likely result in severe restrictions and outright abortion bans in many states concentrated across the South and West. (The Hill)

Mired in confusion over masks

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found itself on the defensive after announcing fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. While CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the agency’s guidance and Dr. Anthony Fauci sought to clarify the guidance, other public health experts and industry groups such as the country’s largest nursing union called on the CDC to reverse course. (Axios, The Hill)

If you enjoyed this excerpt from this week’s Policy News from Goodfuse, we invite you to email us at YourTeam@goodfuse.com to sign up for the full weekly “insider only” newsletter featuring fun-to-read round-ups of Hot Topics, breaking news and some quirky facts to make your Fridays Goodfused.

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A City so Nice, Did They Name it Twice?

Hot Topics | May 7th, 2021

You may have noticed that sometimes our nation’s capital is listed under “D” for “District of Columbia” while other times it is listed under “W” for “Washington, D.C.” Perhaps you even refer to the city colloquially as simply “Washington.” If you have ever wondered why our nation’s capital seems to go by a few different names, then wonder no more:

While Washington and the District of Columbia might be interchangeable in everyday conversation, the two names refer to different entities: The District of Columbia is the federal district Congress established under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. constitution, while Washington is the name of the capital city that sits inside the federal district. While the Constitution enabled the federal government to establish a district to house the nation’s capital, it did not specify how Congress had to organize the federal territory. As such, the original federal district was mostly farmland but included three independent cities: Georgetown, Alexandria, and the nation’s new capital city: Washington City.

In the early 19th century, the city of Washington occupied but a small sliver of the District of Columbia. In 1846, the District of Columbia shrank when Alexandria and the portions of the district west of the Potomac were retroceded to Virginia. A few decades later, Washington City grew to absorb Georgetown along with the remaining lands in the federal district east of the Potomac. This created the modern city of Washington that is contiguous with the District of Columbia.

You can address your thoughts on this week’s headlines to our team in the city of Washington in the District of Columbia:

The shot (policy) heard ‘round the world

  • U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the Biden administration would support a proposal before the World Trade Organization that would temporarily waive international patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines, saying “extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures.” (The Hill, STAT, Amb. Tai’s statement) While lower income nations and their supporters have argued the move would increase vaccine production and access, others including industry trade organizations BIO and PhRMA have issued sharp rebukes of this policy proposal. They argue that waiving intellectual property protections would not result in increased access to vaccines, as additional hurdles such as raw material shortages and pharmaceutical manufacturing expertise would prevent would-be competitors from reverse engineering the approved vaccines. (Axios)

Vaccine goal posts moved again

  • On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a new goal in the national campaign to vaccinate Americans against the COVID-19 virus. The federal government is now aiming to have 70% of American adults at least partially inoculated against COVID-19 by July 4th. While the U.S. has enough vaccine supply to reach this goal, declining interest among the American populace threatens to make this goal more difficult to achieve than previous ones. (Axios, The Hill) Recognizing the decline in demand for COVID-19 vaccines, the federal government is shifting its inoculation strategy away from mass-vaccination sites to walk-up vaccination appointments at pharmacies and mobile vaccination clinics. (STAT)

Pallone pushes drug pricing reform forward

  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) announced he would use “whatever vehicle I can” to pass the Democrats’ drug pricing bill, also known as H.R. 3. If passed, the bill would enable the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of Medicare. The announcement comes after President Biden called on Congress to pass drug pricing reform, but decided not to include these policy reforms in his multi-trillion dollar American Families Plan. (The Hill, The Washington Post)

Obamacare’s healthy enrollment numbers

  • Officials from the Biden administration announced that almost 940,000 Americans took advantage of the Affordable Care Act special enrollment period from February 15 to April 30 to sign up for health insurance. When announcing this news, federal officials also touted that premiums have decreased about 40% from $100 to $57 on average for almost 2 million Americans enrolled in plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. (The Hill)

If you enjoyed this excerpt from this week’s Policy News from Goodfuse, we invite you to email us at YourTeam@goodfuse.com to sign up the full weekly “insider only” newsletter featuring fun-to-read round-ups of Hot Topics, breaking news and some quirky facts to make your Fridays Goodfused.

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