April 13, 2024

Overnight Health Care: Public option plan left out of Biden budget proposal | House Republicans demand congressional probe into COVID-19 origin | Half the total US population have received at least one vaccine dose

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) is trying a different approach to get his constituents vaccinated, telling them on Thursday to get their shots for his dog. “If you won’t do it for your family, you’ve got to get vaccinated for babydog.”

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Today: The White House officially released President BidenJoe BidenSenate Republicans urge CDC to lift public transportation mask mandate AOC said she doubts Biden’s win would have been certified if GOP controlled the House Overnight Defense: Intel releases highly anticipated UFO report | Biden meets with Afghan president | Conservatives lash out at Milley MORE’s budget, leaving out plans to fund a public option, as well as the Hyde Amendment. House Republicans are calling for a congressional probe into the origins of COVID-19, and the U.S. reached 50 percent of its total population getting at least one COVID-19 dose. 

We’ll start with the budget:

Biden leaves public option plan, Hyde Amendment out of budget proposal

President Biden’s budget for the next fiscal year leaves out financial plans for a public option, lowering prescription drug costs and Medicare expansion, despite several Democrats’ calls for the administration to prioritize these health care reforms.

In the $6 trillion budget released Friday, Biden called on Congress to “take action” this year to reduce prescription drug costs and “to further expand and improve health coverage.” 

The president specifically indicated his support for creating a public option, lowering the minimum eligibility age for Medicare and expanding Medicare to include vision, hearing and dental coverage. 

But the budget proposal does not detail how the administration plans to make any of these changes, several of which were campaign promises, nor does it include the expected price tag of these reforms in the overall budget costs.

Background: The Biden administration previously excluded plans to reduce prescription drug prices and decrease the minimum Medicare eligibility age when it originally released the American Families Plan last month. 

Hyde Amendment: Biden did fulfill his campaign promise to end the Hyde Amendment which forbid federal funding for abortions by not including it in the budget. 

The decision not to include the Hyde Amendment comes after criticism of Biden on the campaign trail pushed him to backtrack his previous support for the prohibition of federal dollars funding the procedure. 

Abortion rights advocates hailed the Hyde Amendment’s absence from the White House’s budget as a victory, while opponents criticized its removal.

Read more about the public option here and the Hyde Amendment here


CDC relaxes COVID-19 guidelines for summer camps

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loosened its COVID-19 guidelines for summer camps Friday, saying that vaccinated staffers and adolescents do not need to wear masks.

The changes represent an update from the previous advice for all staffers and campers to wear face coverings, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Now, they would only need to wear masks in state or local areas with mask mandates or to follow local business or workplace guidance. Social distancing is also considered “not necessary” for fully vaccinated campers and staff.

The new summer camp guidance aligns with the CDC’s recommendations announced earlier this month stating that vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask in most settings.

Caveat: Children younger than 12 are not currently authorized to get the vaccine. 

Guidance for these younger children and other unvaccinated campers says they are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks outdoors when close to others for long periods of time and indoors. 

The CDC acknowledged that camps may decide to mandate masks when they cannot verify who is vaccinated and who is not. 

Read more here


House Republicans demand congressional probe into COVID-19 origin

House Republicans are calling for a congressional investigation into the origins of COVID-19, after more attention was given to the “lab leak” theory this week. 

A letter from 209 House Republicans, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyPolice officer injured on Jan. 6 presses McCarthy during meeting White House: ‘Absurd’ for GOP to take issue with dual-track infrastructure approach McCarthy pans deal: Biden gave GOP ‘whiplash’ MORE (Calif.), Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseDefense contractors ramp up donations to GOP election objectors On The Money: Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall | Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall MORE (La.) and Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Canadian ambassador calls for close coordination in handling of US border Five takeaways on the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision MORE (N.Y.), demands House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAOC said she doubts Biden’s win would have been certified if GOP controlled the House Police officer injured on Jan. 6 presses McCarthy during meeting House Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against GOP lawmakers MORE (D-Calif.) allow a congressional probe into the virus’s origins.

“We request that you instruct the appropriate Democrat committee chairs to immediately join Republican calls to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its role in causing the global COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter reads.

“There is mounting evidence the pandemic started in a Chinese lab, and the CCP covered it up,” the lawmakers continue. “If that is the case, the CCP is responsible for the deaths of almost 600,000 Americans and millions more worldwide.”

Follows: Calls for an independent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 virus ramped up this week after The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill and sought hospital care in November 2019.

President Biden instructed the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to conclude where the virus came from and said he’d release the findings publicly. 

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Thursday that the intelligence community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios,” including the theories that it transferred from animal to human or that it escaped a laboratory. 

Read more here


Shrinking number of unvaccinated people eager to get coronavirus jab: poll

A shrinking population of unvaccinated people say they’re eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, according to a poll released Friday. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Vaccine Monitor determined that while 62 percent of respondents reported getting their COVID-19 shot, 4 percent say they will get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The overall vaccination rate does show improvement since April’s survey, when 56 percent reported getting their shot. But the percentage of people who wanted the vaccine as soon as possible dropped from 9 percent in April. 

Twelve percent of respondents said they want to “wait and see” how the vaccine works before getting inoculated. 

Another 7 percent responded that they will only get the vaccine if their work, school or activities require it, and 13 percent total said they would definitely not get their shot. 

What this means: The dwindling number of people eager for their vaccine suggests that officials at both the state and federal level may have to address more hesitant populations to achieve a widespread vaccination rate across the U.S. 

The recent polling comes after President Biden set a goal of administering at least one shot of the vaccine to 70 percent of U.S. adults by the Fourth of July.

KFF notes this goal is possible to achieve if the “as soon as possible” and a portion of the “wait-and-see” populations get their shot. 

Read more here.

Related: Senate Latino Democrats warn about low Hispanic vaccination rates


More than 50 percent of total US population has received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose

More than half of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, marking another milestone in the effort to defeat the coronavirus.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated Friday showed that 50.1 percent of the population had at least one shot and that 40.2 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. 

This amounts to more than 166 million Americans with at least one dose and more than 133 million who have been fully vaccinated. 

The figure is at least the second milestone to be reached this week after the CDC announced that 50 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

What this means: The progress with the broader population shows that more minors are getting vaccinated.

The FDA granted emergency authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech to be given to 12- to 15-year-olds earlier this month, opening up vaccinations to the younger population for the first time. 

Read more here


What we’re reading

Covid-19 vaccinations in the South are among lowest in U.S. (The Wall Street Journal)

Poor Americans more likely to have respiratory problems, study finds (The New York Times)

Disabled scientists are often excluded from the lab (NPR)


State by state

COVID-19 cases spiking again at some ICE detention centers. Critics say ICE failed to vaccinate detainees. (Arizona Republic)

Five days, 100 vaccine doses and a wildfire of conspiracy theories (The Washington Post

National guard asked to help staff Oregon State Hospital (The Associated Press)