What Happened, What You Missed: September 11-15, 2023


2022 Uninsurance Rate Drops amid Concerns about Underinsurance

The uninsured rate in the US dropped from 8.3% in 2021 to 7.9% in 2022, according to the US Census Bureau.  Overall, 27 states saw their uninured rates decline, while Maine was the sole state to see its uninsured rate increase.  Per the Census Bureau, the increase in insurance rates can likely be attributed to Medicaid expansion in several states, economic growth, and enhanced marketplace premium subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act.  However, remains unclear if trends towards lower uninsured rates will continue in 2023 as millions face potential coverage losses due to Medicaid redetermination.  Additionally, some state officials are concerned that Medicaid beneficiaries who lose their coverage could enroll in short-term plans that would render them underinsured.

White House Announces $240M Investment in Cancer Moonshot

The White House announced plans to award $240 million to researchers working on cancer-related projects as part of a larger initiative to advance the Cancer Moonshot.  The awards will be focused on projects that develop new tools that allow early detection of cancer, create new ways to visualize cancer cells during surgery, and produce devices that can deliver treatments directly to cancer cells and tumors more effectively.  The White House also announced development of a new program to transform data accessibility across cancer research, as well as new efforts and resources related to smoking cessation.  The administration is hopeful that the new investments will inspire the next generation of cancer researchers.

CDC Advisors Approve New COVID-19 Booster

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel vote 13-1 on Tuesday on a recommendation for everyone ages 6 months and over to get the updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall.  Instead of recommending vaccines only for high-risk populations, as other countries have done, the advisors opted for a universal recommendation to allow for an easier vaccine distribution process and to ensure better access to vaccines.  The updated vaccines target the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant, which was the dominant subvariant in early 2023.  While other subvariants have since become more prevalent, recently published data has shown the new vaccines elicit strong protection against the newer subvariants.  The new shots could become available as soon as this week in some parts of the country.

HELP to Review Bertagnolli’s Nomination for NIH Chief in October

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hold a confirmation hearing next month on Dr. Monica Bertagnolli’s nomination for lead the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to a recent announcement from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  The announcement means the end of a months-long standoff where Sanders refused to move forward on the nomination until the White House released a plan on lowering prescription drug prices.  A surgical oncologist, Bertagnolli has been serving as the director of the National Cancer Institute since October 2022, and President Joe Biden tapped her for the top NIH role back in May 2023.  The NIH has been without a permanent leader since Dr. Francis Collins stepped down from the role in December 2021, and since then, Dr. Lawrence Tabak has been serving as acting director of the sprawling agency.

ICYMI: DC’s Coolest New Bar Is in…an Office?

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States just moved its headquarters from downtown DC to Capitol Hill, and the organization’s latest digs feature an amenity nearly all advocacy organizations can’t claim: a 200-person capacity bar.  The council has already used the bar to host a meeting of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus and several fundraisers, and the organization plans to rent the space out for other events.  Of note, the bar contains an original George Washington-penned letter about the popularity of the first commander in chief’s whiskey.

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