Weekend update

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Both Houses of Congress are engaged in committee and floor business this coming week. The Senate is focused on confirming the President’s cabinet nominations.

Politico reports

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell negotiate a power sharing agreement for a 50-50 Senate, committee assignments are still up in the air. That means that Republicans like [Sen. Ron] Johnson [R Wisc] are, for now, holding hearings and markups for President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees, even though Democrats are in charge of the Senate floor. 

Johnson, who will eventually hand over the top GOP slot to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), said that his committee will hold a meeting next week on Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. Mayorkas is facing resistance from Republicans and could be stuck in committee if he doesn’t receive enough GOP support.

The Hill reports that President Biden has released a topical daily schedule for the coming week which is full of new Executive Orders. January 28 will be Healthcare Day:

Biden on Thursday will take the highly anticipated action among pro-choice advocates of rescinding the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans the use of U.S. funding for foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions.

The policy, described as a “global gag rule” by reproductive health advocates, was first instated by then-President Reagan, and has been repeatedly rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican presidents in the years since.

Biden will also order a review of the Trump administration’s controversial changes to the Title X family planning program, which required family planning providers participating in the program to stop providing or promoting abortions to remain eligible for funding. 

The president is also slated to sign an executive order aimed at strengthening Medicaid and initiating an open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.

Fierce Healthcare reports that “Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., a recognized name in the health tech world, has been tapped as the new national coordinator for health IT under President Joe Biden’s administration. * * * Tripathi will replace the outgoing Don Rucker, M.D., who held the position since April 2017. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provides counsel for the development and implementation of a national health information technology framework. * * * An expert on interoperability, privacy, and technology standards, Tripathi most recently served as chief strategy officer at Arcadia Analytics, a population health management solutions company. 

On the COVID-19 vaccination front:

  • The Wall Street Journal offers a very informative article with advice from doctors about what to expect when you have an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This is understandably of the Journal’s top five articles.
  • America’s Health Insurance Plans has created a robust website about the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • According to the CDC’s Vaccinations data website, over 4.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the U.S. on Friday and Saturday.

On the reports front —

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