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Washington D.C., squared

Hot Topics | April 16th, 2021

Do you love Washington, D.C. but sometimes wish there was even more to love? What if we told you that for nearly five decades, there was? When searching for a location to host the nation’s capital, the Founding Fathers originally earmarked ten square miles of land shaped like a rhombus straddling both banks of the Potomac. During the first half of the 19th century, our nation’s capital included not only the land within the modern-day borders of Washington D.C., but also Arlington County, Va. and portions of Alexandria, Va. In 1846, Congress returned or “retroceded” half of the federal district south of the Potomac river back to Virginia giving our nation’s capital its present borders.

First COVID, then cancer

  • The White House unveiled a proposal to create a new $6.5 billion medical research agency housed within the National Institutes of Health that would be tasked with fast-tracking cures for difficult-to-treat diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and diabetes. The agency, modeled on DARPA and ARPA-E would be dubbed ARPA-H, or “Advanced Research Projects Authority – Health.” At this time, ARPA-H is only a proposal, as Congress would have to appropriate the funds necessary to create the agency. (STAT)

Don’t you, forget about us

  • PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry lobby, is trying out a new digital and print marketing campaign inside the Beltway that can be summarized as: “Don’t take us for granted – we brought medicines and vaccines for COVID-19 to the world in record time.” PhRMA also debuted a new policy agenda that includes “unprecedented” endorsements for drug pricing reforms that would impact the Industry’s bottom line. (STAT)
    • Read more: STAT sat down with PhRMA President Stephen Ubl who explained the lobbying group’s new approach to drug pricing reform in greater detail. (STAT)

White House: J&J is a bump in the road

  • Even before a Centers for Disease Control advisory committee recommended that the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine remain paused, the White House announced that the suspension of the shot would not have a “significant impact” on the United States’ vaccination campaign. (The Hill, POLITICO) To date, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has accounted for less than 5% of COVID-19 inoculations in the United States.

Family planning policy blitz

  • The White House observed Black Maternal Health Week by issuing the first presidential proclamation marking the occasion. (Axios)  
  • On Monday, Illinois became the first state to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers to one year postpartum. The policy will remain in effect until at least December 31, 2025. (Axios, The Hill)
  • The FDA used its regulatory discretion to end restrictions on mailing abortion pills (mifepristone) to women during the pandemic. The future of the policy after the end of the public health emergency remains unclear. (The Hill, Endpoints News)
  • On Wednesday, the Biden administration released a proposed rule that would make organizations that provide abortions or abortion referrals eligible for family planning funds under Title X. The proposed rule would reverse a rule finalized by the Trump administration in 2019 that prevented these groups from receiving Title X funds. (Roll Call, POLITICO, The Hill)

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