HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: Hospitals fear about infrastructure plan
Hospital groups are sounding the alarm on Capitol Hill over the possibility of a bipartisan infrastructure package being paid for in part from Covid-19 aid to healthcare providers and an extension of Medicare cuts.
Healthcare industry groups launched a lobby flash earlier this month, during which the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, and seven other hospital groups sent letters to House and Senate leaders warning lawmakers not to tap into health funds to get one Infrastructure of $ 579 billion to pay agreement reached with President Joe Bidenthat could come to a vote in the Senate this week.
Hospitals are concerned that lawmakers are seeking to reclaim the $ 24 billion in unspent Covid-19 aid and extend mandatory sequestration beyond 2030, which would tie in more years of Medicare’s anticipated automatic cuts. The AHA and other groups argue that they need the aid and that the extension of the seizure should only be considered for health-related policies.
“The precedent was the use of Medicare dollars for Medicare,” AHA executive vice president Stacey Hughes told the Bloomberg government in an interview.
Early framework conditions for the infrastructure deal included expanding sequestration and collecting unspent pandemic aid. However, the lawmakers involved said last week the details are fluid. Majority leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) set a deadline for Wednesday to finalize talks on the package and allow hospitals time to get their message across, reports Alex Ruoff.
Done on the hill
Hearings on the Hill:
- Federal response to virus: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is holding a hearing tomorrow on the federal response to Covid-19.
- Nursing Staff: The House Education and Labor Subcommittees for Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions; and higher education and labor investment will meet tomorrow for a joint hearing on staff in direct care.
- Differences in Life Expectancy: The Senate Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Primary Health and Pension Plans will hold a hearing on Wednesday on differences in life expectancy.
- Extreme heat: The House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on extreme heat in the United States
International vaccine initiative: The US would be authorized to participate in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an international partnership for vaccine development, under HR 2118, which the House is to review today in an accelerated process. The Foreign Affairs Committee voted in favor of the measure on March 25th. For more information, see the summary of the BGOV law by Christina Banoub.
Swalwell Bill Appoints HHS Chief To Security Council: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) Two bills were unveiled Friday that his office argued would help prepare the federal government to treat pandemics like Covid-19 “as a national security threat.” One bill would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services a seat on the President’s National Security Council, and another would aim to strengthen the federal government’s ability to combat health misinformation. Read an explanation here.
Senate Narcotics Committee Sets Meeting on U.S. Response: The Senate Narcotics Control Committee will hold a meeting tomorrow on the federal response to the national substance abuse epidemic. The meeting will focus on the federal response to the drug overdose epidemic and “drug threats that emerged or have changed as a result of COVID-19,” according to a statement from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), Chairman of the Caucus. Read the explanation here.
The coronavirus pandemic
Biden Says Social Media “Kills People” With Virus Fiction: Biden said Friday that social media networks “kill people” by allowing misinformation about coronavirus vaccines to be spread. “The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” Biden said after being asked about his message for tech companies as he left the White House. “And they kill people.” His comments came shortly after CDC director Rochelle Walensky said the US is experiencing an “unvaccinated pandemic” in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low.
Only four states accounted for 40% of Covid-19 cases in the past week, and the seven-day average of new infections has increased 70% to 26,300 new infections per day, US officials said. Only 55% of Americans have received a dose of the vaccine, and the pace is slowing despite US efforts to encourage Americans to get vaccinated. Earlier this week, White House officials called on social networks to do more to delete misinformation posts.
- This revelation led to some criticism from some Conservatives, who argued that the White House’s efforts amounted to government censorship. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) Tweeted that the White House had “voted” with the social media giant. Meanwhile, Sen. Tom cotton (R-Ark.) Suggested that the White House defined misinformation as “stories that make Joe Biden look bad”. Read more from Mario Parker and Justin Sink.
- But Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Said misinformation on social media about Covid-19 vaccines made their calls for a change in liability standards for what is posted on their platforms more urgent. “There’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be better monitoring this and taking this crap off their platforms,” Klobuchar told CNN yesterday. “I really appreciate President Biden calling that out.” Read more from Yueqi Yang.
- Facebook rejected Biden on Friday, saying the president’s claim was “not based on fact”. Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, also posted a blog post on Saturday citing customer surveys and other defensive measures the company has taken. Among them is his data showing that 85% of US users have been or would like to be vaccinated, and how his efforts have also reduced vaccination hesitation by 50%. Read more from Shamim Adam.
- YouTube, with the help of a nonprofit group, will begin adding fact-checking labels and ranking system for it just days after President Joe Biden broke into social media for “killing people” by spreading falsehoods about vaccines Reorder videos about health. YouTube, part of Alphabet’s Google, announced the changes this morning. Under certain health-related videos, the company will be adding bulletin boards such as those currently found at the end of clips on popular conspiracy theory topics such as the moon landing. YouTube will also begin to show selected videos more prominently on the site as users search for health terms, much like it now covers certain news topics. Read more from Mark Bergen.
Covid-19 kills faster than guns, car accidents, flu: Covid-19 still kills people faster than guns, car accidents and flu combined, according to a mortality data review. The situation has improved dramatically since the winter when deaths from Covid-19 even overtook heart disease and cancer as the leading causes of death in the country. Still, it was responsible for 337 deaths per day in the United States in June, compared to the historical average of 306 deaths from gunshots, accidents, and flu per day. Read more from Tom Randall.
FDA gives Pfizer vaccine priority review: Pfizer said its Covid-19 vaccine has received priority review from U.S. regulators, putting it on the path to possible full approval by early 2022. The drug maker and its German partner BioNTech said in a statement on Friday that the FDA plans to decide by January whether the syringe will be approved for use on people aged 16 and over. Full vaccine approval could help fuel the ailing US vaccine effort. Read more from Timothy Annett.
Pandemic backlash leaves cities with less power: Leading cities through the biggest public health crisis in a century has one lasting side effect for mayors: state interference in their powers to cope with the next emergency. Legislators in more than a dozen states have passed laws in recent months breaking the ability of city and county governments to mandate masks and shutter shops and require vaccines. Many communities have already lifted restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, but lawmakers driving the action says they don’t want local leaders to have these options in the future. Read more from Brenna Goth.
Other US headlines:
China weighs up WHO plan on virus origination probe: China is reviewing plans for further investigations into the origins of the coronavirus after the head of the World Health Organization asked Beijing to collaborate on the next phase of the investigation Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a press conference on Friday that China was considering a proposal from WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Read more from Bloomberg News.
Canada passes the US on Covid-19 vaccinations: Canada has fully vaccinated 48.8% of its population against Covid-19, surpassing the US rate for the first time after a delayed start due to procurement problems and sales bottlenecks. In the US, where vaccinations have peaked in some regions, 48.5% of the population are fully vaccinated. Read more from Shelly Hagan.
Other global headlines:
What You Should Know Today
Appeals court ends battle over immigrant health insurance: A lawsuit over then-President Donald Trump’s proclamation banning the immigration of people who do not have approved health insurance or the means to pay for medical care is over as the ninth district on Friday rejected a motion for enforcement as disputed review. The judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District also overturned their previous ruling that overturned an injunction that blocked execution of the order. Mary Anne Pazanowski has more.
Anti-trans bid in Texas signals pushback from Biden: A Texas legislature initiative to limit transgender participation in sports is the latest signal for a pushback in Republican-run states when Biden champions expanded LGBTQ rights. While two Texas bills are stuck in the state House of Representatives over a Democratic strike, the bills are part of a growing trend of more than 250 anti-LGBTQ laws passed in 33 states this year. Read more from Jarrell Dillard.
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