August 6, 2021
Newsletter | Tea Leaves

D.C. News:

  • After debating the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill late into the night, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer adjourned the session and said proceedings would resume Saturday. The CBO estimates that, contrary to negotiators’ claims that the price tag would be covered by new revenue and saving measures, the bill would add $256 billion to federal deficits over 10 years. The CBO said the discrepancy is because the bill’s drafters counted savings – such as the $53 billion that is expected to be saved because more than two dozen states cut off expanded unemployment compensation before the benefit was set to expire – that would have occurred regardless of whether the infrastructure bill passes. The CBO also found that the bill will lead to a $8.7 billion reduction in Medicare payments to providers. Democrats plan to take up the $3.5 trillion budget resolution immediately after the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes the Senate. (Articles here, here, here, and here)

Life Sciences:

  • Anthony Fauci said that the Biden administration is working to make COVID-19 vaccine booster shots available to immunocompromised people as quickly as possible. During a press conference, Fauci said that data clearly show that in general, immunocompromised people who get vaccinated do not produce an adequate immune response that would protect them against the virus. The remarks come a day after the WHO said poorer nations should be prioritized for first shots until September. (Articles here, here, here, and here)
  • Novavax announced that it will delay the submission of its COVID-19 vaccine to the FDA for emergency use authorization until its fourth quarter. The drugmaker has asked regulators in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine – offering its shot to some low-income countries before rich ones with ample supplies. It also plans to submit applications in Britain soon, followed by Europe, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (Articles here, here, here, here, here, and here)


  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly considering a lawsuit to block UnitedHealth Group’s $8 billion acquisition of data analytics company Change Healthcare. The deal was first announced in January and immediately drew opposition from competing payers, the American Hospital Association, and the American Antitrust Institute over anticompetitive concerns. Change Healthcare President and CEO Neil de Crescenzo said Thursday he’s pleased with the company’s progress on regulatory review of its pending deal with Optum and is moving forward with plans for a successful integration. (Articles here and here)


  • The HHS Office of the Inspector General is auditing Medicare Advantage plans sold by Aetna, CVS Health Corp.’s insurance business, as the watchdog continues to scrutinize fraud and improper practices within the program. CVS said such reviews are an expected part of doing business with federal programs. (Article here)

Public Health/Prevention:

  • California’s public health department issued an order mandating that all health care workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30. The order applies to all health care workers, including those working at hospitals and nursing home facilities, regardless of whether they have contact with patients. The governors of Virginia and Maryland also announced that some state employees would be required to get vaccinated or get regular COVID-19 tests. (Articles here and here)