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Lame duck Congress is driving a news cycle that is anything but boring

Hot Topics | November 20th, 2020

One of the lesser-known perks of being a U.S. Congressperson is access to your own private subway system. There are three subway lines that are independent of the Washington D.C. Metro that help shuttle Congresspeople from the congressional office buildings to votes in the U.S. Capitol. 

We’re confident the trains were running frequently this week, judging by the top healthcare Policy News headlines:

Lame duck drug pricing policymaking

  • The Trump Administration took steps this week to advance a “most favored nation” drug pricing proposal, that would lower the price of drugs covered by Medicare Part B to the prices paid by other countries. However, the administration’s plan to position the policy as an interim final rule, bypassing the standard policymaking process, would leave the proposal vulnerable to lawsuits and delays. (POLITICOThe Hill)

A not-so-seamless transition

  • On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, appeared on Today. His comments hinted that the refusal of the Trump administration to begin the presidential transition process could harm the government’s pandemic response, and slow the rollout of a future vaccine. Later in an unrelated announcement, President-Elect Joe Biden was more explicit in his remarks, sounding an alarm that “more people may die if we don’t coordinate” with the Trump administration. (POLITICOThe Hill)
    • Read more: While an official transition has yet to begin, the President-Elect’s team has reached out to nearly all of America’s leading public health organizations. (STAT)

Ready, set, vaccinate 

  • Coming on the heels of positive results from the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, federal health officials announced that all 50 states will have access to some doses of a potential vaccine within 24 hours of an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Assuming both vaccine candidates receive an EUA, the federal government expects to have enough supply to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, or about 6% of the population. (The Hill
    • Read more: The FDA has received a fair amount of criticism for issuing EUAs without disclosing the data that informed these decisions. In a statement this week, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn committed to share the data and other information that informs decisions to authorize, revise or revoke an EUA. (STAT)

Wheelings but no dealings on Capitol Hill

  • As another week of Congress’ lame duck session draws to a close, negotiations on another large COVID-19 relief bill remain at a standstill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) accused each other of stymying negotiations. (The Hill)

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