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Meet me on J Street…or Not…

Hot Topics | April 23rd, 2021

In Washington, D.C., streets running east to west are assigned letters. However, look closely at a map and you’ll notice something appears amiss: the streets are lettered “G…H…I…K…L.” A popular (but untrue) urban legend claims that city planner Pierre L’Enfant left J Street out of his plans because he disliked Chief Justice John Jay. The real reason has nothing to do with personal squabbles with founding fathers and everything to do with the evolution of the English language. J emerged in English as a variant of the letter I, and in the late 1700’s, these two letters were often interchanged and indistinguishable when written by hand. For Americans living in our nation’s capital in the late 18th Century, omitting J Street from the city’s plans would have helped avoid confusion and would not have raised eyebrows as it might today. 

Drug pricing reform: now or later?

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is encouraging lawmakers to include a measure on drug pricing reform in President Biden’s American Families Plan (AFP). On Thursday, House Democrats reintroduced their drug pricing reform legislation (H.R. 3) in a signal to the White House that they want the upcoming legislation to address drug pricing. The push comes as the White House signaled it plans to leave drug pricing reform out of the AFP, preferring instead to tackle the issue as part of a separate legislative initiative. (The Hill)
    • Read more: Republicans are organizing their opposition to the Democrats’ proposed drug pricing reforms. (The Washington Post)

Lights, camera, vaccines

  • As of Monday, April 19, all American adults over the age of 16 are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To coincide with this milestone in the nation’s vaccine rollout, the White House launched a “media blitz” to encourage Americans to take the shot. The initiative is targeting groups where research suggests there might be higher rates of vaccine hesitancy such as Latino and Black communities, as well as conservatives. Millennials: keep an eye on Snapchat where Dr. Anthony Fauci is scheduled to make an appearance. (Axios, The Hill)

CMS nominee stalled in committee

  • Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) has placed a hold on the nomination of Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the White House’s nominee for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Cornyn announced he acted in opposition to the Biden administration, which rejected Texas’ request to extend its Medicaid waiver that had been approved by the Trump administration. The waiver would have allowed Texas to keep its existing Medicaid arrangements for another decade, and the rejection of the waiver was seen as an attempt to pressure Texas to expand its Medicaid program. Despite delays caused by the hold, Brooks-LaSure still has a path to be confirmed by the Senate. (STAT, The Hill)

Veep calls for action on maternal health

  • On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris called for “sweeping action” to address racial inequities in pregnancy and childbirth in an e-mail interview with STAT News. In the interview, Harris pointed to specific policy actions that could address this issue including: implicit bias trainings, state pregnancy medical home programs and Maternal Mortality Review Committees to provide data on the deaths of mothers who die one year postpartum. (STAT)

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