Happy Inauguration Day

Mount Rushmore

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as President and Vice President this morning. Good luck to them both on this National Day of Unity.

The President issued fifteen executive orders today. Among the new requirements are the following per the Wall Street Journal

  • The 100-day [COVID-19] mask mandate applies on federal property and on airlines, trains and transit systems traveling between states, though Mr. Biden will direct the government to work with state and local authorities on similar steps.
  • [The establishment of] an office of White House Covid-19 response, headed by Jeffrey Zients, Mr. Biden’s coronavirus czar, which will work with federal agencies and report directly to the president. Goals include securing more protective equipment for workers, increasing testing and vaccinations and reopening schools.
  • Mr. Biden also called for extending the federal eviction moratorium until at least March 31 and the pause on interest and principal payments for direct federal loans until at least Sept. 30.

The President’s chief of staff imposed a regulatory freeze pending review and approval by Biden Administration officials. This order applies, for example, the proposed HIPAA Privacy Rule amendments discussed in yesterday’s post as well as the HHS and CMS rule makings discussed earlier this month. That’s a sensible action.

Govexec.com reports that Kathleen McGettigan is replacing Michael Rigas, who resigned, as acting OPM Director. Ms. McGettigan, who is OPM’s Chief Management Officer, previously served in this position during other transition periods. Govexec.com adds that President “Biden has yet to name a nominee for OPM director.”

In other developments today

  • STAT News reports that “Amazon has reached out to President Joe Biden to offer logistical and technical support for his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans within his first 100 days in office.”
  • Healthcare Dive informs us that “UnitedHealth Group beat Wall Street expectations for both earnings and revenue in fourth-quarter financial results released Wednesday, as care consumption and prescriptions returned to more normal levels despite fears of renewed deferrals as COVID-19 cases surge.”
  • The Health Affairs Blog identifies five healthcare trends to watch this year.

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