KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: FDA Takes Center Stage

Congress is set to start its once-every-five-years review of the law that authorizes user fees to finance the hiring of personnel to speed the FDA review of drugs. The periodic renewals of “PDUFA” also give lawmakers a chance to make other changes to the agency at the hub of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the FDA could also find itself at the center of the abortion debate and a controversial new medication to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

California Ballot Will Be Heavy on Health Care

In the Nov. 8 general election, California voters will consider overturning the state’s flavored tobacco ban and hiking medical malpractice awards. Other proposals to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms, target dialysis clinics and boost public health funding could also be on the ballot, along with a plan to limit business and school closures during public health emergencies.

Senate Republicans Throw the Brakes on Timing for Becerra Hearings

Republican spokespeople for the committees responsible for vetting Health and Human Services nominations said the Senate may not hold hearings on California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the department, until the Senate approves committee assignments for the new Congress. That could delay the start of the process.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Transition Interrupted

Former Vice President Joe Biden is now the president-elect nearly everywhere but inside the Trump administration, where the president refuses to concede and has ordered officials not to begin a formal transition. That is a particular problem for health care as the COVID-19 pandemic surges. Meanwhile, there’s good news on the vaccine front, but it’s unlikely one will arrive by winter. And the ACA was back before the Supreme Court — again. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal and Shefali Luthra of the 19th News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too.