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A trip outside the Beltway

Hot Topics | May 21st, 2021

The past few months we’ve brought you quirky facts and interesting tidbits from inside the Beltway. As much as we love to hype our hometown, we do recognize that not all policy and regulatory decisions come from Washington, D.C. Today, we want to highlight some things you may not have known about other American cities that are home to institutions shaping American healthcare public policy:

  • Silver Spring, MD | Home of the FDA – During a 1976 interview with radio station KOME, Stevie Nicks stated she wrote Fleetwood Mac song “Silver Springs” after passing a sign for Silver Spring, MD on a highway.
  • Atlanta, GA | Home of the CDC – Robert Woodruff, former president of the Coca-Cola Company, played a role in securing land for the federal agency’s headquarters when it was founded in 1947. For his efforts, Woodruff was paid $10.
  • Baltimore, MD | Home of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – The Star-Spangled Banner was written when Francis Scott Key saw U.S. soldiers raise an American flag over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry to celebrate an important victory in the War of 1812.

And now to the Beltway (and Atlanta and Silver Spring) for this week’s headlines:

Head honchos in the hot seat

  • This week two industry CEOs faced sharp questions from Congress:
    • Emergent BioSolutions CEO Robert Kramer was questioned by a House panel on his company’s ability to fix issues at a Maryland plant that spoiled tens of millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines, admitting the company’s quality control practices were not sufficient to identify the contaminated doses. (The Hill, Axios)
    • AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez was questioned by House lawmakers on the prices of his company’s anti-inflammatory drug Humira and cancer drug Imbruvica. Democrats on the panel accused Gonzalez of taking advantage of patients and the healthcare system by raising prices on these drugs. Gonzalez pushed back arguing that the structure of Medicare, specifically Part D, is responsible for issues many un- and underinsured patients have accessing drugs. (The Hill)

Biden revives bioeconomy plans

  • A bipartisan group of senators has revived a Trump administration proposal to create a unified strategy for the way the United States regulates the bioeconomy, which includes everything from lab grown meat to CAR-T therapies for cancer. The legislation, which is currently known as the Bioeconomy Research and Development Act, could be sent to the White House for President Biden’s signature as early as this fall. (STAT)

SCOTUS takes abortion case

  • The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case related to a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy that has the potential to transform the 50-year old precedent set by Roe v. Wade. In their order, the Court said they would review just one question: “whether all bans on abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb are constitutional.” (POLITICO) While scholars do not expect the Court to overturn Roe entirely, a narrowing of the Roe precedent would most likely result in severe restrictions and outright abortion bans in many states concentrated across the South and West. (The Hill)

Mired in confusion over masks

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found itself on the defensive after announcing fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. While CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the agency’s guidance and Dr. Anthony Fauci sought to clarify the guidance, other public health experts and industry groups such as the country’s largest nursing union called on the CDC to reverse course. (Axios, The Hill)

If you enjoyed this excerpt from this week’s Policy News from Goodfuse, we invite you to email us at [email protected] 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.