Hot Topics | November 19, 2021
From getting to work on time to helping satellites stay in geosynchronous orbit, timekeeping is an essential function of modern life. In the United States, the responsibility of maintaining the master clock from which all other clocks are set falls to the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) located in Northwest D.C. At the facility, dozens of independent cesium atomic clocks and hydrogen maser clocks work together to provide a time so accurate, it does not change by more than 100 picoseconds (0.000 000 000 1 seconds) per day. While the atomic clocks are tucked away inside the facility, the USNO maintains a master clock display for the public at the gates on Massachusetts Ave NW and 34th Street NW.
Now for the healthcare stories that made headlines this week:
Drug pricing reform: back from the dead
- Efforts to include drug pricing reform in the Democrat’s social spending bill came back to life this week. The majority caucus agreed on a measure that would permit Medicare to negotiate drug prices in select situations, cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 annually, and prevent drug companies from raising prices faster than inflation. Drugs eligible for negotiation would include small molecules that are more than nine years old and complex biologics more than 12 years old. (The Hill, Axios)
- Read more: STAT’s Washington Correspondent Rachel Cohrs breaks down who wins and who loses under this policy. (STAT)
Coming soon to a pediatrician near you
- On Tuesday, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee unanimously approved the FDA advisory committee recommendation to authorize the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old. CDC Director Walensky quickly followed course signing off on the policy within hours. The director’s action paves the way for these shots to be administered as soon as this week, with the pediatric vaccination campaign reaching full capacity next week. (STAT, Axios)
More on mandates
- The Biden Administration announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will begin enforcing the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. The policy covers two-thirds of all U.S. workers, and will require covered workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Tuesday, January 4, or face weekly testing. There are limited exceptions, and 17 million healthcare workers will not have the option to undergo weekly testing. (Axios, The Washington Post – full text below)
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