What We're Reading: Biden Aims to Speed Vaccine Release; First Medicaid Block Grant Approved; Pharma Companies Condemn Pro-Trump Riots

The incoming Biden administration announces plans to rapidly release most available vaccine doses against coronavirus disease 2019; the Trump administration approves the first Medicaid block grant in Tennessee; pharmaceutical executives and trade groups condemn last week’s pro-Trump riots on Capitol Hill.

Biden to Speed Release of Available COVID-19 Vaccines

According to the Associated Press, the office of President-elect Joe Biden announced plans this past Friday to rapidly release most available vaccine doses to protect more Americans against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)—marking a reversal of current Trump administration policies. Biden’s plan would accelerate the shipment of first doses and use federal power to avoid any lag delaying the required second dose. A recent analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that, if a steady supply of vaccine were maintained, a flexible approach analogous to Biden’s may prevent an additional 23% to 29% of COVID-19 cases compared with the current fixed strategy.

CMS Approves First Medicaid Block Grant in Tennessee

Kaiser Health News reports that the Trump administration will allow, in a first-of-its-kind move, for Tennessee officials to restrict medications covered by the state Medicaid program and to maintain a closed formulary, similar to the approach taken by private health plans. The approval of the novel Medicaid financing system serves as a 10-year experiment, in which the state will get an annual block grant instead of federal funding that would rise with higher enrollment and health costs. Tennessee’s state Medicaid program, TennCare, said the block grant system would provide unprecedented flexibility to determine who is covered and what services it will pay for.

Pharma Companies Condemn Pro-Trump Riots

As reported by FiercePharma, pharmaceutical executives and trade groups condemned pro-Trump riots that occurred on Capitol Hill last week, with some industry representatives supporting calls to consider impeaching President Donald Trump. The National Association of Manufacturers, which includes representatives from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Eli Lilly, labeled the riots as sedition and blamed Trump for inciting violence, which they say should warrant consideration of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.