President-elect Joe Biden chooses David Kessler, MD, a former FDA commissioner, pediatrician, and lawyer, to lead Operation Warp Speed. (New York Times)
CMS issued a final rule seeking to reduce burdens associated with insurers’ prior authorization requirements.
Three House Democrats said they tested positive for COVID-19 after hiding in a secure room from Capitol rioters last Wednesday: Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a 75-year-old cancer survivor; Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.); and Brad Schneider (D-Ill.). Jayapal blamed Republican members for failing to “simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic.”
At least one GOP member, newly elected Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.) was also infected; he tested positive hours after emerging from the Capitol lockdown. The House is reportedly now fining lawmakers who don’t wear masks on the House floor: $500 for a first-time offense and $2,500 for a second. (Forbes)
A new turf war between the FDA and its political bosses broke out Monday; FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and his staff had tussled with HHS Secretary Alex Azar over vaccine politics for months. (Politico)
HHS also extended the COVID-19 public health emergency until April, enabling waivers of telehealth and other regulations to continue for longer. (FierceHealthcare)
Biden received his second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. (The Hill)
The Supreme Court brought back an FDA requirement compelling women who want to use the abortion medication mifepristone to see a provider in-person; a federal district court judge previously ruled to block the requirement and allow the drug to be sent by mail, due to the pandemic. (New York Times)
Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), his health department director, and other ex-officials were criminally charged for their part in the Flint water scandal. (Associated Press)
And contentious former White House coronavirus task force member Scott Atlas, MD, disappeared his Twitter account, saying the site “mainly inflames extreme thinking and disseminates distortions.” (STAT)
The Trump administration approved Tennessee’s request as the first state to receive Medicaid funding through a block grant, a change some experts worry will lead to cuts. (Kaiser Health News)
CMS finalized a rule to hasten Medicare coverage decisions for breakthrough medical devices approved by the FDA.
The FDA issued an action plan for oversight of artificial intelligence/machine learning software in medical devices.