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Policy News

 

The Tall Tail of Washington’s Hometown Ghost

Hot Topics | October 29, 2021

Late at night when members of Congress have retired to their crash pad or office for the night, a terrifying specter haunts the halls of the U.S. Capitol. Known as the Grimalkin, Demon Cat or simply DC, the phantom feline is a local legend that has been a fixture in Washington lore since the Civil War.

The first recorded mention of the Demon Cat dates to 1862 when Union troops were defending the Capitol during the Civil War. Soldiers who were assigned night rounds reported seeing an ordinary black cat grow to the size of a tiger before pouncing and disappearing. Since then, additional sightings have coincided with national emergencies such as the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

Demon Cat deniers (a.k.a. historians) are quick to point out that the Capitol was historically home to a horde of (non-demon) cats who helped control the rodent population, and the men who were assigned the Capitol night watch were often political appointees and were known to drink on the job.

Now for the not-so-scary healthcare stories that made headlines this week:

Drug pricing reform dies on eve of Halloween

  • President Biden has abandoned efforts to include drug pricing reform in the Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar domestic spending bill. While progressive elements of the Democratic party pushed hard for reforms, a compromise could not be found. Other progressive priorities such as expanding Medicare to include dental coverage have also been removed from the bill. (STAT, The Washington Post)

Shots for tots

  • On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine be authorized for children aged 5 to 11 years old. 17 committee members voted to issue the non-binding recommendation to authorize the vaccine with one member abstaining. The decision to authorize the vaccine now rests with the FDA Commissioner, who typically accepts the recommendation of the advisory committee. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would also have to authorize the shot following a recommendation from a similar advisory committee before doctors could administer the vaccine to children. (STAT, Axios)

Have a spooky and safe Halloween!

  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, went on Fox News Sunday earlier this week to share that trick-or-treating “should be very safe for your children.” Her remarks were similar to those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, who said the annual Halloween tradition is relatively safe because “You’re outdoors for the most part.” (The Washington Post)

If you enjoyed this week’s excerpt from 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 (and the occasional Thursday) Goodfused.

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Policy News

 

Old World eerie in a New World city

Hot Topics | October 15, 2021

Did the pandemic dash your dreams of embarking on a religious pilgrimage to Europe or the Middle East? Not to worry, because you can experience the best of Ancient Rome and the Holy Land in the heart of Washington, D.C courtesy of Franciscan monks.

In the late 19th century, the Franciscan Monastery of the Hold Land in America sought to recreate a number of holy sites and relics for Americans who could not afford to see the originals overseas. This included a number of alters, chapels and grottos, but apropos for the month of October are their catacombs. Meant to evoke the early Christian catacombs of Ancient Rome, the Catacombs of Washington, D.C. are a replica of the burial tunnels that lie under the streets of the Italian capital. The catacombs come complete with an official Papal endorsement as well as the bones of Saint Innocent, a child martyr. If you’re looking to get your spook on this October, tours of the catacombs are available.

Before you rebook your European vacation to Washington, D.C., catch up with the healthcare stories that were making headlines this week:

Drug pricing’s Groundhog Day

  • The intraparty stalemate between proponents of drug pricing reform and moderates entered another week. Democratic party leaders are now exploring changes that could potentially break the impasse, but reports indicate there is no guarantee that key moderates could be swayed by proposed changes. (The Hill, The Washington Postfull text below)

FDA first: e-cigarette receives marketing authorization

  • In a first for the agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted marketing authorization to some electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), more commonly known as e-cigarettes. In granting the marketing authorization, the FDA said “the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth” provided the ENDS manufacturer, R.J. Reynolds, complies with the terms of the post-marketing requirements. (FDA Alert, Endpoints News, Associated Press – Washington Bureau)

Update on Commissioner search 2021

  • Sources close to the White House told media this week that President Biden is likely to nominate Dr. Robert Califf to serve as FDA Commissioner. If nominated and confirmed, Califf would return to the position he held for about one year during the second Obama administration. Over the past ten months, Dr. Janet Woodcock has served as Interim FDA Commissioner. (POLITICO, Endpoints News, The Washington Postfull text below)

If you enjoyed this week’s excerpt from 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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Leading Thinking

Our Goodfuse brand turns one: Empathy will guide our future

One year ago, we set out to launch a brand that reflected our legacy and ethos: Goodfuse. Humanity Infused Communications.

To us, Human to Human (H2H) Communications is about considering people’s beliefs, feelings, experiences and intentions — not just with data but with empathy and purpose. And to incorporate that awareness within every business strategy we develop, and on behalf of every client we serve. As we celebrate this first birthday of our reimagined brand, we take a moment to reflect on our journey and share our learnings with you, human to human.

We observed.

Our transformation from Y&R PR to Goodfuse came at a time when health care went from being a part of our lives to the forefront … where protocols and process of drug discovery and development came from the halls of Big Pharma to our kitchen tables. People from all walks of life were expected to become experts in health care, and it spotlighted significant gaps in health literacy and how we communicate health information. Humanity-infused communications became vitally important. People were receiving health information without the foundational knowledge to understand or contextualize data, regulatory guidance, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols. We knew we needed to better serve the public good by throwing away all the “wisdom” we had gained about how, when and why to communicate health information, and instead to embark on something unknown and new. Something rooted in listening and empathy.

We dreamed big.

By daring our teams to dream, together with our clients we have pushed the boundaries of what is possible. We encouraged cancer patients to find their voice and advocate for their treatment goals. We built websites and rebranded nonprofits. We generated awareness for up-and-coming biotech companies reimagining the future of health and wellness. By pushing our creativity and allowing ideas to flow freely, we created memorable campaigns, out of the box new business pitches and an internal culture that fostered inspirational individual growth. We can always go back to our bread and butter, the work that PR professionals are expected to do each day, but what makes Goodfuse stand out is our desire and ability to tap into each person’s unique self and come together as a dynamic team to dream. To deliver work that excites and motivates people.

We empathized.

The past year has reinforced the importance of empathy. That means empathizing with our colleagues – recognizing and accepting that today might not be someone’s day, or that someone may approach a challenge differently and embracing those differences. As a collective, we think about our communications through the experiences and journeys of our audiences and speak to them as people, not as potential customers. Our culture of Human to Human, or H2H, reinforces the belief that every person has their own story, emotions and point of view that makes them who they are. The pandemic has been one of the greatest tragedies of our lifetime. But it also reminded us of the importance of empathizing with our fellow humans, shifting our perspective on the way we interact with the world.  

What’s to come?

Our future is bright. Our legacy and centuries of combined expertise will define a generation of communications professionals. Our passionate and nurturing team will continue to infuse humanity into the important work we do, on behalf of the people we ultimately serve. Communicating without purpose should not be tolerated. It is not the message, the prose or mode of delivery that defines success, but its impact on people. Our clients will partner with us to push boundaries, innovate and create in order to inspire and motivate. For many of us, the pandemic shone a light on what matters most in life. Our Goodfuse values — exploring, listening, empathizing, interacting, observing and dreaming — encompass everything we hold dear. As we continue to live and work through the pandemic and everything it changed in our lives and perspectives, bringing empathy to all we do is not only refreshing… but necessary.

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In The News

How 10 PR Agencies are Honoring World Mental Health Day

PRWeek

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Policy News

Luke! It’s Darth Vader!

Hot Topics | October 8, 2021

Nestled among the leafy streets of Cathedral Heights in Northwest D.C. stands the stately Washington National Cathedral. If you visit the cathedral, you may encounter a famous father on your spiritual journey. We aren’t talking about the Heavenly Father, but the galaxy’s most notorious villain: Carved into the northwest tower of the world’s sixth-largest cathedral is the head of Darth Vader.

Lord Vader holds such a prominent perch upon a place of worship thanks to a boy named Christopher Rader. In 1980, the cathedral held a contest that allowed schoolchildren to design a sculpture to be incorporated into the cathedral’s renovations. Rader, who was in the third grade at the time, submitted a drawing of Darth Vader. As the winner of the third place prize in the contest, Rader’s drawing was incorporated into the cathedral’s renovations as a grotesque. (Since the carving of Darth Vader’s head is not used to drain water, architects refer to the design flourish as a grotesque instead of a gargoyle.)

Stick with us. You don’t have to look to a galaxy far far away for a roundup of public policy news:

NiXing Title X regulation

  • On Monday, the White House revoked a Trump-era rule that prevented clinics from referring patients for abortions if they elected to receive federal funding for family planning. Title X supports healthcare facilities that offer infertility treatment, contraception counseling and routine cancer screenings to Americans with lower incomes. About a quarter of clinics who had previously received Title X funding, including Planned Parenthood, withdrew from the program when the rule was implemented in 2018. The rule is slated to be revoked on November 8. (The Hill, Axios, Roll Call)

Testing, testing, COVID-19 testing

  • President Biden announced a $2 billion investment in rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests. The cash infusion will roughly quadruple the nation’s supply of tests by December, which is likely to be welcome news for the millions of Americans who must undergo frequent COVID-19 testing as part of efforts to reopen the country. The news will also likely be welcomed by the U.S. Senators who questioned the Secretary of Health and Human Services on why affordable, rapid tests were not widely available in the United States. (STAT, The Hill, POLITICO)
    • Read more: Earlier this week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized another rapid COVID-19 test. (FDA Press Release)

The difficult decision facing Democrats

  • After Democrats reached an impasse on the size of their reconciliation package, the party is now looking to pare back the size of the $3.5 trillion bill to appease Senators Joe Machin (D-W. Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), has said CPC lawmakers will accept a bill between $1.5 trillion and $3.5 trillion. The question now becomes what healthcare priorities are included and excluded from the bill. Some moderates have proposed introducing a “means test” that would make wealthy Americans ineligible for Medicare. Others have proposed “sunsetting” certain policies after three to five years as a cost-saving measure. (The Hill, POLITICO)

If you enjoyed this week’s excerpt from 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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2021 Awards

Best Website – YouthBuild

Big Apple Awards 2021

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Policy News

 

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse Festival

Hot Topics | October 1, 2021

Welcome to October, ladies and ghouls. This month Policy News from Goodfuse will be sharing the scariest stories to ever emerge from Washington, D.C. and the halls of the U.S. government.

We kick off the month by briefing you on STRATCOM 8888, the U.S. Strategic Command’s plan to combat a zombie invasion, which “was not actually designed as a joke.”  This 16-page unclassified government document addresses threats from various types of zombies including: Pathogenic Zombies, Radiation Zombies, Evil Magic Zombies and Chicken Zombies. According to the document, “although it sounds ridiculous…[the Chicken Zombie] is actually the only proven class of zombie that actually exists.

STRATCOM 8888 was not a Department of Defense April Fool’s joke, but you should know that the fictional scenario was created as a training exercise that would avoid a diplomatic incident by naming real-world countries as the antagonists in a mock wartime scenario.

Or perhaps STRATCOM 8888 isn’t a training exercise and the government really is planning for a zombie apocalypse. A spooky thought to ponder as you read this week’s round up of public policy news:

Drug pricing download

  • Several media outlets published scoops on the rapid developments in the debate on drug pricing reform:
    • The Senate Finance Committee is considering a policy that would exempt small biotech companies from drug pricing reforms. (STATfull text below)
    • The House Judiciary Committee voted to advance three bills that would ban pharmaceutical companies from using certain practices that raise drug prices and prevent competition. (Reuters)
    • The Washington Post analyzed how a handful of moderate House Democrats are imperiling the Biden administration’s plans to reform drug pricing. (The Washington Postfull text below)

 Healthcare spending on the chopping block

  • Ideological differences within the Democratic Party are forcing leaders to explore spending cuts to healthcare priorities in $3.5 billion reconciliation bill. Funding for long-term care services and plans to expand Medicaid are among the line items expected to face the heaviest cuts. (POLITICO, Axios)

White House sides with insurers

  • As part of the implementation of a new law preventing surprise medical bills, the Biden administration has sided with insurers over providers. At issue is how disputes over surprise medical bills are resolved. Independent mediators charged with resolving billing conflicts will be directed to “favor a payment metric related to providers’ existing contracts with insurers.” (STATfull text below)

If you enjoyed this week’s excerpt from 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.