KHN’s ‘What the Well being?’: Congress Cabinets Covid Funding for Now

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Congress is shifting towards completion of its annual spending payments for the fiscal yr that began final October, however a last-minute snag jettisoned from the invoice the Biden administration’s requested funding for covid prevention and therapy.

In the meantime, a federal court docket has dominated that the administration overstepped within the dispute-resolution portion of its measure to bar “shock” medical payments, after medical doctors and hospitals charged that the system would favor well being insurers in billing disagreements.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Faculty of Public Well being and Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Jessie Hellmann of Trendy Healthcare.

Among the many takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • When the last-minute dispute arose over covid funding within the federal spending invoice for 2022, Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled that part of the invoice. The Home then handed the general spending measure and despatched it to the Senate. Pelosi stated Congress will take a look at that spending individually later.
  • The dispute grew out of Republican complaints that they don’t need to assist new covid funding sought by the Biden administration till they’ve a full accounting of how a lot of previous appropriations have been spent. So congressional leaders brokered a compromise to claw again about $7 billion from states in unspent covid funding to cowl about half of the brand new initiative. However state governors — together with Republicans — and a few Democratic lawmakers balked on the deal.
  • Administration officers say they’ve used all of the covid funds already appropriated and want more cash to be prepared for any future issues from the coronavirus. Their plan accommodates provisions to purchase extra medicine and vaccines to be given to the general public and efforts to organize for brand spanking new covid variants.
  • Regardless of the dust-up over covid funding, the federal spending invoice consists of boosts in funding for the Nationwide Institutes of Well being and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. And it provides the FDA authority to control “artificial” nicotine, a key ingredient in some vaping merchandise.
  • Republicans scored a political win within the invoice, nevertheless, by insisting that it proceed to incorporate the so-called Hyde Modification, which prohibits federal funds from getting used for abortion providers. Democrats had promised to delete that ban however couldn’t muster sufficient votes to make it occur.
  • The administration’s plan to arrange “take a look at and deal with” protocols, by which individuals who take a look at constructive for covid might instantly be prescribed antiviral remedy at drugstores, ran head-on into sturdy opposition from the American Medical Affiliation, which says solely medical doctors ought to be capable to prescribe medicine. The administration says looking for a health care provider’s appointment or prescription typically takes too lengthy for sufferers because the remedy, to work correctly, have to be began very early in the midst of an an infection.
  • A federal decide in Texas final week struck down guidelines specifying how insurers, hospitals, and medical doctors resolve billing variations when a affected person has obtained a shock medical invoice. A brand new legislation protects sufferers from these payments, which can end result after they obtain emergency care at a facility they didn’t select or when they’re at a hospital that’s of their insurance coverage community however are handled unexpectedly by a health care provider who doesn’t contract with their insurer.
  • The decide, who dominated in favor of medical doctors within the swimsuit, stated the plan’s guidelines don’t comply with the legislation handed by Congress. Underneath the Biden administration plan, the well being care supplier and the insurer every current their greatest provide on the billing dispute to an arbitrator, who can take into account many components however ought to give best consideration to the quantity closest to the median in-network charge for the service in query. Medical doctors and hospitals say that’s unfair to them, however the administration has argued that customary might help hold prices from escalating.
  • State legislators are busy anticipating a potential determination by the Supreme Court docket that may weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade, which assured entry to abortion nationwide. In Missouri, a lawmaker has proposed that the state discover a technique to penalize residents who journey out of state for an abortion. And a few states are on the lookout for methods to restrict entry to abortion drugs ordered on-line and delivered by way of the mail.

Plus, for additional credit score, the panelists advocate their favourite well being coverage tales of the week they assume you must learn, too:

Julie Rovner: The Atlantic’s “How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal?” by Ed Yong

Joanne Kenen: Politico’s “‘I Almost Lost My Baby’: Parents Demand Answers From FDA,” by Helena Bottemiller Evich

Rachel Cohrs: Vox.com’s “Maternity Wards Are Shuttering Across the US During the Pandemic,” by Dylan Scott

Jessie Hellmann: NPR’s “Delaware Is Shrinking Racial Gaps in Cancer Death. Its Secret? Patient Navigators,” by Yuki Noguchi

Additionally mentioned on this week’s podcast:

The New York Occasions’ “The Loophole That’s Fueling a Return to Teenage Vaping,” by Christina Jewitt

CNN’s “Health Experts Warn Florida’s Plan to Recommend Against Covid-19 Vaccine for Healthy Kids Is Irresponsible,” by Travis Caldwell

Stat’s “A Glaring Gap in Congress’ Surprise Billing Law Leaves Patients on the Hook for Pricey, Out-of-Network Lab Tests,” by Bob Herman

To listen to all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to KHN’s What the Well being? on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, or wherever you take heed to podcasts.

KHN (Kaiser Well being Information) is a nationwide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being points. Along with Coverage Evaluation and Polling, KHN is among the three main working applications at KFF (Kaiser Household Basis). KFF is an endowed nonprofit group offering info on well being points to the nation.

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