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The ink is barely dry on the recent covid relief bill, but Democrats in Congress and President Joe Biden are wasting no time gearing up for their next big legislative package. Meanwhile, predictions of more states expanding Medicaid have proved premature. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, Rovner interviews KHN’s Lauren Weber, who reported the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode.

After a bruising confirmation process, Xavier Becerra was sworn in as secretary of Health and Human Services this week. The Senate also confirmed the nominations of former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to return to the post he held in the Obama administration, and former Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health. Levine is the first openly transgender person to receive Senate confirmation. Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl around the AstraZeneca covid vaccine, which some public health experts worry will create more hesitancy toward other vaccines.

Progressive and conservative Democratic lawmakers, as well as President Joe Biden, are in favor of authorizing federal officials to negotiate with drugmakers over what Medicare pays for at least some of the most expensive brand-name drugs and to base those prices on the drugs’ clinical benefits. Such a measure could put Republicans in the uncomfortable position of opposing an idea that most voters from both parties generally support.