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January 18, 2022

Around the nation: Senate advances Biden's nominee for FDA commissioner

Daily Briefing

    The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) on Thursday voted 13-8 to advance Robert Califf's nomination as FDA commissioner, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, New York, and Virginia.

    • District of Columbia: The Senate HELP Committee on Thursday voted 13-8 to advance Robert Califf's nomination as FDA commissioner to a full Senate vote. Among the committee members, two senators who caucus with Democrats and six Republican senators opposed Califf's nomination. The divided committee's 13-8 vote indicates that the full Senate vote will likely be close, the New York Times reports, with many voicing concerns over Califf's ties to the drug industry and his commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic. Currently, there is no official date set for the Senate's full confirmation vote. (Gardner, Politico, 1/13; Jewett, New York Times, 1/14)
    • New York: Excellus BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) earlier this month appointed Cindy Langston as SVP and CIO—marking the first time a woman has held the CIO role in the organization's 87-year history. Langston, who joined Excellus in 2014 as the VP in information technology, said, "One of my long-term goals is to maintain our great culture. We have a lot of long-term employees who really know our members and know our culture." According to CEO and president of Excellus BCBS Jim Reed, "Cindy is an experienced and strategic leader with a proven track record of building high-performing teams and delivering results." (Ray, HealthLeaders Media, 1/12)
    • Virginia: The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently reported that the total undergraduate enrollment in the United States for the fall semester in 2021 was 3.1% lower than fall 2020, marking a total decline of 6.6% since fall 2019—or a decrease of 1,205,600 students. The research center, which collects and analyzes data from 3,600 postsecondary institutions, noted that enrollment has continued to decline amid the pandemic, even after vaccines became widely available in 2021. "Our final look at fall 2021 enrollment shows undergraduates continuing to sit out in droves as colleges navigate yet another year of Covid-19," said Doug Shapiro, the executive director of the research center. (Saul, New York Times, 1/13)

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