HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Biden’s Covid Strategy Change Escapes Congress


Members of Congress and their staff unsuccessfully pushed the White House to go public with its plan to reduce its role in distributing Covid vaccines and therapies.

All parties involved agree that at some point Covid vaccination will cease to be a rampant public health emergency, with the federal government rushing to buy vaccine supplies directly from drugmakers and then distributing them to states. , hospitals and clinics nationwide, and paying for everything. Instead, Covid vaccines will become like flu vaccines – sold by drugmakers to hospitals, health services, pharmacies and doctors, and largely paid for by private insurers.

What should be a coordinated process between the administration, drugmakers and Congress, they say, has instead become a siled waiting game that could lead to delays in this transition, which could take six to nine months. . “We should change now,” said Rep. Cathy McMorrisRodgers (Wash.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees a range of federal health programs.

In public, the Biden administration since March has been asking for more than $20 billion in new pandemic funding, warning that without the money it may not be able to order enough vaccines and protective gear if an increase in cases is developing later this year. Yet Congress shows little interest in responding to this request anytime soon. Learn more about Alex Ruoff.

Biden urges Covid injections for children: Meanwhile, Biden has pressed parents to vaccinate young children against Covid, while blasting unnamed Republican politicians he has accused of slowing access to shots. The remark came after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) said state agencies would not help distribute vaccines. Akayla Gardner and Jennifer Jacobs have more.

Covid failures show cracks in public health, report says: The United States needs greater public health representation at the highest levels of government and reliable funding for local health departments to respond to crises like Covid-19, a bipartisan group says of health experts. Better data sharing and targeted efforts to tackle misinformation are also needed after the “blowout” Covid response, the Commonwealth Fund’s Commission on a National Public Health System has said. Madison Muller has more.

Also on lawmakers’ radars

Bipartisan lawmakers introduce insulin bill: Meaning. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) will introduce their legislation today to reduce what Americans pay for insulin. The bill would prohibit insurers and drug benefit managers from collecting rebates on insulin products maintained at their 2021 Medicare Part D net price, allowing drugmakers to retain a greater share of revenue. The legislation also requires insurers to limit cost sharing on insulin to $35 per month, reports Alex Ruoff. Read the text here.

Wednesday Chamber Hearings:

  • The Senate Commerce Committee plans a markup Wednesday to weigh S. 2510, which would target heat health risks by creating the National Integrated Heat Health Information System Program at NOAA.
  • House Veterans Health Subcommittee plans a hearing Wednesday on six measures relating to veterans’ health care, including reproductive health and insurance copays. Find a list of legislation here.
  • BGOV Calendar: See the full week of events.

Wednesday house action: Legislation to create a new biomedical accelerator independent of the NIH will move to a plenary vote on Wednesday after the panel that organizes the debate on the floor is approved. The house rules committee voted 9-4 on Tuesday to approve HR 5585 along with two other bills, allowing it to proceed to a floor vote, reports Jeannie Baumann.

A dossier on mental health and addiction (HR 7666) will also be presented on Wednesday. The measure would change mental health insurance coverage rules and opioid treatment prescriptions while reauthorizing block grants for mental health and substance use disorders and related programs. For many lawmakers, voting on legislation will be personal. Emily Wilkins and Alex Ruoff interviewed lawmakers about how mental health issues have affected their families and friends.

Check out the list of health-related bills slated for ground action Wednesday in BGOV’s House Agenda for the week of June 20.

From the Supreme Court

Court ruling on kidney care creates loophole for health plans: The Supreme Court has given health plans a potential roadmap to avoid paying the high costs of treating end-stage kidney disease. The court sided with an Ohio hospital’s employee health plan on Tuesday in a fight against low reimbursement rates for outpatient dialysis treatment. DaVita sued the hospital for treating dialysis providers as “out of network” and reimbursing them at the lowest rate. Read more from Lydia Wheeler.

SCOTUS rejects Bayer in Roundup offer: A ruling dismissed a multibillion-dollar appeal from Bayer, refusing to shield the company from potentially tens of thousands of claims that its top-selling Roundup weed killer causes cancer. Learn more about Greg Stohr and Jef Feeley.

The court agrees to clarify the DOJ’s whistleblower power: The Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would consider whether a False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit alleging that Executive Health Resources defrauded Medicare by falsely designating patient admissions should have proceeded despite opposition from the Department of Health. Justice. Read more from Daniel Seiden.

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What else to know today

Biden’s new regulatory playbook targets opioids: Biden released his third list of regulatory tasks on Tuesday, which includes a proposal to be released in September that would allow doctors to use virtual visits to prescribe treatment for patients with opioid addiction. The Food and Drug Administration also plans to propose limits by May next year on the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. Read more from Courtney Rozen.

  • On the nicotine level, the precise administration “Because tobacco-related harms result primarily from addiction to products that repeatedly expose users to toxins, the FDA would take this action to reduce addiction to certain tobacco products, thereby giving addicted users greater ability to stop.” Publishing the rule will be a long process that will be contested by the tobacco industry. Learn more about Jonathan Roeder.

The mental health hotline faces an unstable rollout next month: A 2020 law creating a national mental health helpline, 988, has been hailed as a milestone in improving the accessibility of crisis services. But weeks away from its July 16 launch, state and local agencies seem unprepared for its rollout. Learn more about Amy Yee.

Biden taps Prabhakar for Science Post: Biden has chosen a former Department of Defense innovation chief, Arati Prabhakar, to become the next White House science adviser and head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy as his administration embarks on an effort to accelerate research biomedical. She will replace Eric Lander, who resigned in February. Learn more about Jeannie Baumann and Jennifer Jacobs.

Transgender advocates fear Texas ‘abuse’ policy could spread: State policies that define gender-affirming health care as child abuse have faced early setbacks in court, leaving advocates to watch what other states will do. A directive from the Texas government. Greg Abbott investigating the care of transgender children as a potential form of child abuse has been temporarily banned. But other states may seek to accommodate the governor’s action in legislation, as gender-affirming care sees increased prominence as a cornerstone issue for political candidates. Learn more about Shira Stein.

Dialysis centers will get $8.2 billion under the Medicare proposal: Free-standing dialysis centers would get a 3.1% payout increase in fiscal year 2023 according to a proposal the Biden administration released on Tuesday. Hospital establishments would benefit from an increase of 3.7%. Learn more about Allie Reed.

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With the help of Alex Ruoff

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Lee in washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at [email protected]; Michaela Ross at [email protected]

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