Policy Watch

Quick-hitting policy analysis, polling, and updates on the key issues facing the country.

The Sleeper Health Cost Policy

In this Axios column, Drew Altman unpacks President Biden’s recent executive order on promoting competition, exploring its significance for new efforts to control health costs by addressing consolidation in the health care industry.

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The Red/Blue Divide in COVID-19 Vaccination Rates is Growing

One of the main factors driving differences in COVID-19 vaccination rates across the country is partisanship. Our surveys consistently find that Democrats are much more likely to report having been vaccinated than Republicans, and Republicans are much more likely to say that they definitely do not want to get vaccinated.  In May, just as vaccine supply was starting to outstrip demand, we examined average vaccination rates by county and found that rates were lower in counties that voted for Trump in the 2020 Presidential election compared to those that voted for Biden. Now, two months later, we find that not only does this remain the case, the gap has grown.

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The Status of Medicaid Expansion in Missouri and Implications for Coverage and Cost

On June 23, 2021, a circuit court decision in Missouri put the state’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in limbo. This decision, if upheld, has implications for coverage in the state as well as the availability of federal financing to cover the cost.

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Why Drug Price Negotiation Has Staying Power

In this Axios column, Drew Altman looks beyond Medicare to what’s at stake for employers and workers in the debate about the government negotiating drug prices.

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Medication Abortion and Telemedicine: Innovations and Barriers During the COVID-19 Emergency

UPDATE
On April 12th, 2021, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) notified ACOG that they will exercise enforcement discretion during the ongoing public health emergency with respect to in-person dispensing requirements of mifepristone based on a safety reviewEffectively, this will allow providers in states that do not have laws that would otherwise ban this practice to dispense mifepristone using the telehealth protocol for medication abortion. On May 7th, 2021, in response to the ACLU lawsuit, the FDA announced in a court filing that a review of the REMS is currently underway. 

State actions in response to the COVID-19 crisis have highlighted their divergent approaches to abortion access. Some states classified abortion as a non-essential service, effectively banning services, while others have clarified that abortion is an essential service. In a handful of states, some clinics have begun to offer medication abortions using telemedicine. This approach maintains access to abortion while social distancing, preserving personal protective equipment (PPE), and limiting in-person health care visits and risk of exposure.

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COVID-19 Vaccination and Parental Consent

With the recent authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents, ages 12-15, a group that totals almost 17 million, the next phase of the U.S. vaccination effort has begun. Authorization for even younger children is expected as early as the fall, and even before this point, Pfizer’s vaccine had been…

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