Week in Washington 092420

Week in Washington is brought to you by Michael Cohen, PhD. Tune in each week to read the latest on healthcare policy and get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon.

Week in Washington


Supreme Court

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last week. Who fills that seat and when the seat is filled has serious implications for upcoming healthcare cases such as the future of the ACA and the Medicaid work requirement case. The White House has pushed for confirmation of a new justice before November, which would mean that the newly confirmed justice would participate in the Texas v. California ACA constitutionality case (scheduled for November 10).  A new conservative justice would also make it more likely that the ACA would be overturned. Katie Keith has a good round-up of the legal implications, which you can read here. The expectation is that President Trump will announce his nominee on Saturday, with the Senate GOP aiming to hold hearings starting October 12 and a vote on the nominee by October 29.

2021 Implications

What are the implications if parts or the entire ACA are overturned? Wakely released an overview of some of the implications of the Supreme Court ruling as well as the 2020 election. You can read it here.


The House passed a continuing budget resolution that would fund the government until December 11. The Senate is expected to pass the bill shortly. With the exception of the Supreme Court nominee hearings/vote or a stimulus bill, Congress is expected to be on recess until after the election. Negotiations on a potential COVID stimulus bill reportedly restarted late on Thursday.

Vaccine News

  • Johnson & Johnson announced that a single shot COVID vaccine would begin phase 3 testing this week. Johnson and Johnson are aiming to recruit 60,000 volunteers and have sufficient results by the end of the year. This is the first one-shot vaccine under phase 3 testing in the U.S.
  • Emergency Approval – One of the key questions on the timing of a vaccine release is if the FDA will issue emergency approval. Politico reported a dispute between the FDA and the White House over the requirements a vaccine would need in order to be approved. The actual standard employed in making a decision on approval could influence if the vaccine is approved this Fall or not until 2021.

Economy/Health Spending

As Joe Weisenthal of Bloomberg shows below, improvements in initial unemployment numbers have stalled. There is growing concern that a V-shaped recovery, i.e., strong/quick recover, is not materializing. This indicates without Federal stimulus that economic conditions will not improve.



Drug Coupons

Late Thursday, the White House announced it would be sending $200 drug coupons to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries. According to the White House the drug coupons could be used to pay for drug copays. Politico has more details here.

Previous editions: 

09/17/2020: Week in Washington

09/10/2020: Week in Washington

09/03/2020: Week in Washington

08/27/2020: Week in Washington


08/20/2020: Week in Washington

08/06/2020: Week in Washington

07/30/2020: Week in Washington

07/23/2020: Week in Washington


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