HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said new guidance from the department, which preempts state and local laws, will significantly expand access to coronavirus vaccines—once they're approved—by allowing pharmacists to administer them, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania.
- District of Columbia: The Senate on Thursday voted 52-47 to approve a fifth stimulus package intended to help offset the economic effects of America's coronavirus epidemic, which means the measure failed to garner the 60-vote majority it needed to pass out of the chamber. The proposed $300 billion stimulus package would have increased unemployment benefits by $300 per week; authorized more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program; implemented certain coronavirus-related liability protections for health care providers, schools, and businesses; and provided funding for schools and coronavirus testing. Democratic and Republican lawmakers thus far have been unable to reach an agreement on a fifth stimulus package, and many Republicans on Thursday expressed doubt that Congress will reach such a deal before the upcoming general election. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she believes negotiations could result in an agreement before Nov. 3 (Cowan/Zengerle, Reuters, 9/10; Davis, NPR, 9/10; Carney, The Hill, 9/10).
- District of Columbia: HHS on Wednesday issued new guidance allowing pharmacists to administer approved vaccines against the novel coronavirus vaccines to people ages three and older without a prescription. HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said the guidance, which preempts state and local laws, will significantly expand access to coronavirus vaccines once they are approved. Under the guidance, pharmacists will be required to complete a training program before they are permitted to administer the vaccines (Cohen, Inside Health Policy, 9/9 [subscription required])
- Pennsylvania: Allegheny Health Network on Wednesday announced that it has tapped Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew to serve as its first chief clinical diversity and inclusion officer, effective Dec. 1. Larkins-Pettigrew currently is an assistant dean of students, chair of clinical diversity and inclusion, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. In her role as Allegheny Health's chief clinical diversity and inclusion officer, Larkins-Pettigrew will collaborate with leaders to create an inclusive work culture, the company said (Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 9/9).