HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Biden talks Covid, abortion in big speech

President Joe Biden has promised to turn the page on the coronavirus pandemic in a State of the Union address meant to reassure a nation on edge.

In an unexpected move that could cause unease among some Americans still wary of the virus, Biden urged people who have been working from home for nearly two years to return to their offices.

While urging people to return to a more normal way of life as the pandemic recedes, he sought to allay the concerns of those who may fear the government is backing away from restrictions such as social distancing and privacy requirements too quickly. mask.

Pills to treat Covid-19 will soon be available on demand at pharmacies immediately after someone tests positive, Biden said. Pfizer is working to ramp up production of its pill, which has been shown to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and death in clinical trials. The company aims to provide one million treatments this month and more than 2 million in April, Biden said.

He called on Congress to dedicate new funds to Covid-19 initiatives, including efforts to prepare for the arrival of any new variants.

The president presented a revamped economic plan to replace an earlier proposal, Build Back Better, which was rejected by Republicans and the senator. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.). The measures in his renamed plan focus on two issues most Americans are concerned about: rising consumer prices and the lingering pandemic. Read more about Jordan Fabian and Josh Wingrove’s report.

He also pushed to lower the prices of prescription drugs and childcare, as well as cut health care premiums and make long-term care more affordable, Katia Dmitrieva reports. Biden expressed support for recent legislative initiatives to reduce insulin costs to $35 a day.

After the speech, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who is facing competitive re-election, said he spoke to Biden in the House well about wanting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, especially insulin, reports Zach C. Cohen . Kildee said the two agreed it was possible to do so. “If we can make the case, which he helped to do tonight, I think we have a chance,” Kildee said in an interview. Kildee played down the cost of a cap on insulin for insurance companies, saying ‘market forces’ and ‘pressure to negotiate prices’ help.

Moving on to other legislative demands, Biden said he would “soon” send Congress a request for additional spending on free vaccines, treatments, tests and masks. Lawmakers aim to enact a three-part spending package including aid to Ukraine, Covid-19 relief and a government funding package of 12 bills by the end of next week, but the addition of additional measures complicated negotiations on the larger omnibus, Jack Fitzpatrick Reports.

Biden also urged Congress to protect a woman’s right to an abortion as the U.S. Supreme Court is due to rule this year on whether a Mississippi ban on the procedure after 15 weeks can stand. During closing arguments on Dec. 1, the court’s six conservatives all suggested they were likely to uphold the Mississippi ban. And five have signaled that they are interested in going further and eliminating the constitutional right to abortion altogether, Reports by Jeff Green.

  • Biden also touted his Cancer Moonshot initiative, as well as the creation of a Advanced Research Project Agency. Pharmaceutical companies should be able to speed up testing of promising new cancer therapies under a set of FDA guidelines released separately yesterday that aim to help overcome the challenges of clinical trials in oncology. The Food and Drug Administration has released three cancer clinical trial guidance documents, two of which are aimed at accelerating the development of oncology drugs and biologics. The third encourages drug companies to include older people, especially those over 75, in their studies of cancer drugs. Read more about Jeannie Baumann.
  • The president has expressed renewed interest in nursing home operations as the White House plans to examine the roles that private equity funds and real estate investment trusts play in the ownership of long-term care facilities in the United States, and whether these corporate structures best serve the interests of the residents of the establishments. Read more from Tony Pugh.
  • Biden also urged Congress to increase spending to train more mental health doctors. Simplifying how people get mental health care is a key part of Biden’s health agenda. Alex Ruoff has more. Part of this program also includes limiting the use of children’s data by social media companies for targeted advertising, as well as their use of addictive platforms. “We need to hold social media platforms accountable for the national experiment they run on our children for profit,” he said. Learn more about Andrea Vittorio.

It’s happening on the Hill

Senate Floor: The Senate will consider today at noon SJ Res. 32a resolution of the Senator’s Congressional Review Act. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) To block the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, reports Nancy Ognanovich. The measure might find support in the Senate, but would likely not clear the House and would ultimately be vetoed by Biden.

Floor of the house: The House today plans to begin consideration of a bill (HR 3967) that would expand eligibility for health care benefits and disability awards for veterans exposed to toxic substances.

Progressives Skeptical of Medicare Pilot Changes: Progressive Democrats are urging the Biden administration to make more changes to a proposed overhaul of a Trump-era Medicare pilot program that seeks to revamp how doctors are reimbursed. Democrats criticized the pilot program, saying it was an effort to quietly privatize Medicare and that proposed changes to the global and professional direct contract model may not go far enough.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said it was diving into the details of the changes to make sure they don’t take advantage of the program to the detriment of seniors. “This particular model was designed to maximize profits for private equity and other outside investors and minimize care for people in need,” she said. Learn more about Alex Ruoff.

Pharma, tech and defense want R&D pause reinstated in funding bill: Leaders of more than 30 major companies, including Intel, AT&T, IBM, Genentech and Northrop Grumman, have called on Congress to include the restoration of a more generous research and development tax benefit in an upcoming funding bill. governmental. Letter from a group of defence, technology and pharmaceutical companies calling themselves the R&D Coalition calls for the reversal of a planned shutdown of a benefit that allowed companies to immediately deduct R&D costs from their tax bill. Read more from Colin Wilhelm.

Anti-abortion group targets Kelly in Arizona: The Susan B. Anthony List announced yesterday that it is launching a million dollar statewide ad campaign targeting Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) after yesterday’s unsuccessful Senate vote on HR 3755which would codify the protections under the 1973 Act Roe vs. Wade decision. Kelly is co-sponsor of the legislation. In a statement, the Susan B. Anthony List said CatholicVote Civic Action has contributed $100,000 to the ad campaign, which will air on cable and air on television in the Phoenix and Tucson area for two weeks. depending on the group.

The coronavirus pandemic

Vaccines protected children and adolescents after Omicron: Covid-19 vaccines protected children and adolescents from severe disease even after the emergence of the immune-evasive variant of omicron, according to results of US government analyses. After omicron became dominant in the United States last year, infection protection and urgent care visits declined for 5 to 17-year-olds who received primary inoculations, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published yesterday. However, fully vaccinated children and adolescents were still less likely to be infected than their unvaccinated peers, the CDC said, Fiona Rutherford reporting.

Data on the vaccination rate of hospital workers retained: The Biden administration has said it will withhold data on the number of hospital workers vaccinated until October 2022. Meanwhile, patients across the country continue to delay medical care for fear of catching the virus in the hospitals. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has three months of vaccine rate data that it began requiring hospitals to submit on October 1, 2021. “CMS will not be updating this metric with quarterly updates until the The agency will not have a full year of October 2022 data,” a CMS spokesperson said. Learn more about Allie Reed.

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What else to know today

The NIH Foundation appeals to the former CDC director: Former CDC director and Merck executive Julie L. Gerberding will take on a critical role overseeing the National Institutes of Health’s public-private partnerships, including a project to accelerate Covid-19 therapy. The National Institutes of Health Foundation has announced that Gerberding will be its next chief executive, effective May 16. Gerberding joined the foundation’s board yesterday. Jeannie Baumann has more.

Judges review burden of proof in ‘pill factory’ lawsuits: Lawyers for doctors accused of acting as drug dealers have battled with the Justice Department for the Supreme Court in a case that could affect medical practice nationwide. Hearing arguments yesterday in the context of the national opioid crisis, the High Court sought to determine exactly what burden of proof the government has when it seeks to lock up doctors for prescribing controlled substances. Judges questioned whether the burden on the US government was high enough in cases where defendants faced lengthy prison sentences. Read more about Jordan S. Rubin.

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With the help of Nancy Ognanovitch

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in washington at [email protected]; Zach C. Cohen in washington at [email protected]

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

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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