What We're Reading: FDA Confirmation Vote; Expanding Medicaid for New Moms; Fentanyl Test Strips

President Joe Biden's FDA nominee reaches final confirmation vote; Georgia bill that extends Medicaid coverage for low-income moms advances to House of Representatives; New Mexico bill aims to legalize test strips to detect the presence of fentanyl.

Biden’s FDA Pick Advances to Final Confirmation Vote

Robert Califf, MD, the nominee from President Joe Biden to lead the FDA, advanced to the final confirmation decision after the Senate voted 49-45 yesterday to move forward. The Hill reports that the final confirmation vote could come as early as today and is expected to be even closer than yesterday’s decision. Califf’s nomination has garnered controversy among both Republicans and Democrats due to his industry ties and the FDA’s role in the opioid crisis during his previous term as commissioner.

Georgia Bill to Expand Maternal Medicaid Coverage

The Associated Press reports that a Georgia bill aiming to extend Medicaid coverage for low-income moms from 6 months to a year after birth was approved unanimously by the state Senate this week and will now advance to the House of Representatives. With state lawmakers having previously expanded Medicaid coverage for moms from 2 months to 6 months after birth, the legislation aims to reduce one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Georgia has experienced 25.1 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births from 2015 through 2017, with Black women in the state found to be 2.3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than White women.

New Mexico Bill Allows Fentanyl Testing

New Mexico’s state Senate voted 32-3 in favor of a bill that would legalize test strips to detect the presence of fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opiate contributing to a large proportion of overdose deaths. The Associated Press reports that the bill would lift public access restrictions on devices that can test for drug impurities, and would also provide new authority to state health officials to intervene and prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis through intravenous drug use. The bill will need final approval from Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who supports the initiative.