What Happened, What You Missed: July 24-28, 2023

Odds of Shutdown Grow as Appropriations Gridlock Continues

The White House is urging Congress to agree to a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government open after the current fiscal year (FY) ends on September 30. To date, only the House has advanced an appropriations bill for FY 2024, although the Senate is considering moving forward on a package of spending bills as soon as next week. However, with little time remaining for a bipartisan, bicameral FY 2024 spending agreement, the Senate appears to be signaling that the upper chamber will address the looming appropriations deadline with a bipartisan CR of their own. However, widespread disagreements over spending among Republicans in the GOP-controlled House make the path forward on a bicameral CR increasingly tenuous, which raises the odds for a government shutdown in just over three weeks.

Health Affairs: 32% of HHS Appointees Leave for Private Industry

About one in three political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services move on to positions in the private industry, according to a study published in Health Affairs. The study examined HHS appointee exits across three presidential administrations from 2004 to 2020. While Republicans were more likely to appoint individuals to HHS from industry than Democrats, political appointees from both parties departed for industry jobs at similar rates. The study’s authors noted that the 32% does represent the true extent of transitions to the private sector, as some non-profit roles support commercial interests. According to the study, appointees’ departures to industry shouldn’t be surprising given higher compensation in the private sector.

Moderna: New COVID-19 Vaccine Effective against BA.2.86

Moderna’s new COVID-19 vaccine that’s set to become available this fall offers a strong immune response to the BA.2.86 Omicron subvariant, according to data published by the company. Moderna’s new vaccine was initially developed to target XBB.1.5, which was the most prevalent Omicron subvariant in early 2023. BA.2.86 has 34 to 36 different mutations in the spike protein compared with XBB.1.5, which has sparked concerns that the new subvariant could evade protection from new vaccines. Fortunately, according to Moderna, its new shot induces aan 8.7-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies against BA.2.86. Additionally, a trio of studies introduced in the past week suggest that BA.2.86 is not as infectious as previous subvariants.

New CMS Model Aims to Address Chronic Diseases

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the States Advancing All-Payer Health Equity Approaches and Development Model (AHEAD) Model on Tuesday, which aims to partner with states to address chronic disease, behavioral health, and other medical conditions. Participating states will work with CMS to redesign health care delivery to improve the total by improving the quality and efficacy of care delivery and reducing health disparities. The AHEAD Model hopes to incentivize better health outcomes by providing hospitals with a prospective payment stream via hospital global budgets. The model also intends to boost coordination across payers, providers, and community organizations in participating states. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) will be released in late fall 2023.

ICYMI: Most Americans Want Age Cap for President

Some 76% of Americans say there should be a limit for how old someone can be to serve as president, according to a poll from The Economist/YouGov. The poll comes amid growing questions about the age and health of US politicians. For example, 81-year-old Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recently froze up at a press conference, while 90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) did not appear in the Senate for several months due to shingles and other health issues.

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