What biotech should know about the COVID relief package

March 8, 2021
ICYMI: The Senate passed the COVID-19 relief package, which heads back to the House for a final vote this week. We tell you a few provisions you need to know. We also celebrate International Women’s Day with pioneering Chinese-American nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu…
BIO

ICYMI: The Senate passed the COVID-19 relief package, which heads back to the House for a final vote this week. We tell you a few provisions you need to know. We also celebrate International Women’s Day with pioneering Chinese-American nuclear physicist Chien-Shiung Wu and a few modern day biotech “sheroes.” (1,000 words, 5 minutes)

 

I am BIO Celebrates International Women's Day

I am BIO: International Women's Day
 
 

Happy International Women’s Day—a day to celebrate the achievements of women, and also raise awareness of the need for gender equality.

Today, we'd like to celebrate a few “sheroes” we know who are creating biotech solutions to feed, heal, and fuel our planet. 

They include Marianne and Paula, who have been discovering new breakthroughs for patients—while also raising families in the middle of a pandemic...

And Lisa, who was inspired by her daughter to become a patient advocate for rare disease...

And Shreya and K’amara, young women who show us that we can solve some of the world’s biggest challenges by opening doors for women and girls in STEM.

Watch these women tell their stories. 

Today and every day, BIO is committed to expanding opportunities in biotech for women and other underrepresented populations. This includes growing the number of women in leadership and board positions at companies, expanding the use of women-owned small businesses in biotech supply chains, and encouraging more women and girls to study STEM fields. Learn more about the BIOEquality Agenda and our work to improve diversity in the industry.

 
 
 
Twitter
 
LinkedIn
 
Facebook
 
 

What biotech should know about the COVID relief package

 
 

ICYMI: The Senate passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Saturday, on a party-line vote of 50-49. As the Senate-amended bill heads to the House this week, here’s what you need to know.

The changes: The Senate considered nearly 40 amendments to the House-passed bill, but approved fewer than 10. The New York Times takes a look at key changes.

What’s in the bill?  

On the health side, provisions include:

  • A delay of Medicaid rebate provisions. Currently, rebates drug manufacturers pay to Medicaid programs are capped at the Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) of the drug. The House-passed bill lifted the cap; the Senate bill deferred the effective date for a year.
  • Medicare Wage Index changes. The CMS Medicare Wage Index adjusts payments to reflect wage levels in a particular geographic area. CMS recently made a change that would boost payments to rural facilities; because changes must be made in a budget-neutral fashion, the change impacted payments to urban facilities. The Senate created a new floor for the index in “all-urban states,” including New Jersey and Rhode Island. The legislation also specifies that the change is not budget neutral—meaning CMS will not have to make any reductions to offset the payment increases. 
  • COBRA subsidies. The Senate-passed bill would cover 100% of an individual’s COBRA costs through September.

Also worth noting: funding for rural providers. In a change from the House-passed bill, the Senate added $8.5 billion in relief for providers, which will presumably flow through the Provider Relief Fund (though it’s not specified). This funding will be available only to rural providers on an application basis. 

On the agriculture side, the bill includes $4 billion in assistance to the food supply chain, as Agri-Pulse explains. This includes $3.6 billion “purchasing commodities and for helping processors, distributors and producers address pandemic-related needs, including personal protective equipment for workers,” as well as $300 million for “COVID-19 surveillance in animals."

It also includes assistance for minority farmers. With language from the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, introduced by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), the package would provide direct relief to America’s Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous farmers as well as additional funding research, education, and extension at HBCUs and other institutions of higher education that historically serve communities of color. 

(BIO sent a letter supporting Sen. Warnock’s bill, which would help tackle some of the vulnerabilities and inequities in COVID-19’s impact on communities of color, in line with the goals of the BIOEquality Agenda.)

Want to know more about the last-minute changes to unemployment benefits? Vox explains

The next steps: Senate passage was the biggest hurdle for this bill—but it passed. The Senate-amended version is expected to pass the House this week.

Resources:

 

Health Care News:

The New York Times: Why people are eager for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine
“Some people are eager to get it because they want the convenience of a single shot. And public health officials are enthusiastic about how much faster they could get a single shot distributed, particularly in vulnerable communities that might not otherwise have access to a vaccine.”
 

Agriculture and Environment News: 

The Washington Post: Butterflies are vanishing out West. Scientists say climate change is to blame.
“The rate of decline is ‘calamitous,’ one scientist said, and has implications for crops and the environment.”

 
 
 
Twitter
 
LinkedIn
 
Facebook
 
 

Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) was a nuclear physicist who was awarded the first-ever Wolf Prize in Physics for dismantling the idea that there was such a thing as perfect mathematical symmetry in all “subatomic processes,” in an experiment that would be known as the “Wu Experiment.” 

Wu arrived in the United States in 1936 from China, where she completed her Ph.D. at UC-Berkeley. 

In 1944, she joined the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, where she helped develop the process that separates uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238. Later, she became the first person to prove the theory of beta decay.  

In 1956, Dr. Wu skipped a trip to visit her family in China in order to work on what would be called the “Wu Experiment.” She advised fellow researchers Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang through the experiment, for which they would win the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics. While Dr. Wu was not officially recognized by the Nobel Foundation, she would receive the first-ever Wolf Prize in Physics, in 1978.

 
 
BIO Beltway Report
BIO Beltway Report
 
Paragraph (sm) - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Quis ipsum suspendisse ultrices gravida. Risus commodo viverra maecenas accumsan lacus vel facilisis sample link.
 

President Biden’s Monday: Visiting a VA medical center with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, then delivering International Women’s Day remarks alongside VP Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: As mentioned, the House will likely pass the Senate-amended COVID-19 relief package tomorrow. The Senate is expected to vote on the nomination of Michael Regan for EPA administrator later this week. Meanwhile, we’re keeping an eye on a few hearings: 

Wednesday, March 10 at 10:30 AM ET
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: The Path Forward: Restoring the Vital Mission of EPA 

Thursday, March 11 at 9 AM ET
House Agriculture Committee: A Look at Food Insecurity in America 

Thursday, March 11 at 10:15 AM ET
Senate Agriculture Committee: Farmers and Foresters: Opportunities to Lead in Tackling Climate Change

 
 
Paragraph (normal) - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Quis ipsum suspendisse ultrices gravida. Risus commodo viverra maecenas accumsan lacus sample link.
 
Twitter
 
LinkedIn
 
Facebook