President Biden signs the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, FDA allows over-the-counter sales of hearing aids, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- President Joseph R. Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The law contains provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, creating tax credits for buyers of electric motor vehicles, and imposing a minimum 15 percent tax on some of the most profitable large corporations. The Biden Administration has since released a series of fact sheets detailing the new law’s expected benefits for rural, Black, and Latino communities as well as the ways the law will address climate change. During his signing ceremony, President Biden declared that “with this law, the American people won and the special interests lost.”
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule allowing the over-the-counter sale of hearing aids to individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. The rule is expected to save consumers money by providing a lower-cost hearing aid option that is not bundled with mandatory professional services such as fitting and maintenance visits. President Biden released a statement in support of the rule, emphasizing its role in increasing market competition and lowering prices for working class consumers.
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that transgender people who experience gender dysphoria are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The appellate court’s decision reversed a Virginia court decision dismissing the claims of a transgender woman who experienced gender dysphoria after being placed in a men’s detention center. The court reasoned that it would be against Congress’ explicit direction to construe the ADA broadly and contrary to the “basic promise of equality” animating the law to exclude gender dysphoria from ADA protections. The court also found it plausible that her gender dysphoria may result from a physical impairment, which would include her within the definition of disability.
- The U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approved an updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine that targets two variants of the virus, making the United Kingdom the first country to approve a “bivalent” COVID-19 vaccine. Each dose of the vaccine, which was approved for use as a booster dose for adults, will target both the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variant. June Rain, chief executive of the agency, hailed the updated vaccine as “a sharpened tool in our armory to help protect us against this disease as the virus continues to evolve.”
- President Biden signed legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Justice to develop training for first responders that focuses on traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Under the new legislation, first responders will be trained to recognize signs of these injuries in individuals they interact with and be provided with crisis intervention skills. U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, noted that individuals with these conditions are often “not readily recognized by first responders.”
- The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released a 24-month study of the Colorado River Basin which establishes how much water from the river can be allocated to seven southwestern states, several Native American tribes, and Mexico. Due to the “critically low” reservoir level, the Bureau will reduce the water allocation for several states for the next year. Bureau Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton also highlighted several initiatives to improve water conservation within the basin, including accelerating ongoing river outlet infrastructure maintenance.
- The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issued guidance advising banks supervised by the Federal Reserve to use caution when engaging in crypto-asset related activity. The new guidance specifically calls upon banks to pay closer attention to cybersecurity risks, risks from price volatility and limited legal precedent, and financial instability created by particular crypto-assets, such as stablecoins. Under the guidance, any bank looking to engage with crypto-assets should report all their crypto activities to the Federal Reserve and ensure the legal permissibility of these activities. The guidance also calls for banks to follow a pre-established risk management structure.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggested that it will extend the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for another 90 days. The declaration is currently set to expire in mid-October, and the agency had previously declared that it would “provide a 60-day notice to states before any possible termination or expiration.” Under that deadline, notice of the emergency’s termination would have come earlier this week. This next extension will allow for the continuation of expanded telehealth services, Medicaid coverage, payments to hospitals, and other pandemic measures in place since HHS first declared the public health emergency in 2020.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In an Urban Institute report, senior policy fellow Bill Pitkin, research analyst Katharine Elder, and associate director of racial equity Danielle DeRuiter-Williams argued that increasing access to safe and affordable housing should be analyzed under a new framework of promoting “housing justice,” which acknowledges structural racism and other historical disparities in access to housing. Pitkin, Elder, and DeRuiter-Williams contended that issues such as housing insecurity, homelessness, and the development of new housing are often addressed individually, despite the many intersections that exist between each factor. They emphasized that achieving housing justice requires designing and implementing policies that address each of these areas. They also noted that new solutions, such as offering reparations to groups disproportionately impacted by harmful past housing policies, could be transformative in addressing housing-related challenges.
- In a new working paper, University of Minnesota professor Christopher Terry and several coauthors described the increase of misinformation disseminated through mainstream news outlets over the last decade. The authors argued that this increase is due in part to packaged cable channels indirectly subsidizing media providers. This subsidization, the authors contended, then funds the media providers responsible for the increase in misinformation delivered to consumers, regardless of whether the consumers engage with that media. The authors proposed that the Federal Communications Commission should require cable companies to offer an à la carte cable option for customers to choose which networks they receive as a way to reduce the indirect subsidization of misinformation in media.
- In a Brookings Institution report, Aaron Klein, a senior fellow in economic studies at Brookings, discussed the threat to political independence that financial regulators face depending on the agency structure. Klein noted that two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions made the head of each agency removable at will by the President, which circumvented Congress’s intent to create politically independent heads through fixed terms and limited removal. Meanwhile, agencies run by a board may be subject to the votes of the board’s political majority, which can counter the will of the agency head. Klein urged that these structural issues be addressed to ensure the future independence of financial regulators.
In an essay in The Regulatory Review, University of Washington professors Nives Dolšak and Aseem Prakash, and Ph.D. student Inhwan Ko cautioned that government pledges to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 are at risk of being used as empty rhetoric to placate climate activists. Dolšak, Prakash, and Ko noted that it is not clear how governments will turn their pledges into a reality if they require considerable changes to a country’s economy. They argued that the Biden Administration must reestablish the United States as a global climate leader by enacting domestic policies that will make concrete steps toward a net-zero emissions goal.