Overnight Health Care — White House: Testing website coming soon

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. 

The CDC might want to bring on Coach Cal as their newest spokesman; the University of Kentucky basketball coach released a video calling on people to use KN95 masks.  

Starting on Jan. 19, you can log on to COVIDTests.gov and order some tests….but not too many.  

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan ([email protected]) and Nathaniel Weixel ([email protected]). Write to us with tips and feedback, and follow us on Twitter: @PeterSullivan4 and @NateWeixel 

Let’s get started. 

 

Website for at-home rapids coming Jan. 19 

The move makes obtainable the 500 million rapid tests President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democratic campaign arm outraises GOP style in final quarter of 2021 Putin’s ‘Brezhnev Doctrine’ involving Ukraine could backfire Rising inflation adds pain to student loan debt MORE said his administration purchased last month.  

Limitations: Each residential address will be limited to four tests. The tests are also expected to take 7-12 days to ship once they are ordered, the White House said. 

People will be able to order the tests on a new website, COVIDTests.gov, which will go live on Jan. 19. The White House is partnering with the U.S. Postal Service to ship the tests to people’s homes. 

Mounting pressure: The move comes as the White House has been under pressure from lawmakers and health experts to take stronger action to address shortages of tests across the country.

Many health experts say the administration should have made testing moves like this months ago, before the omicron wave hit. 

The limitation of four tests per address will average this channel alone will be far from enough to allow for the kind of frequent testing that many experts have called for. 

Asked about the limitation, a senior administration official said the initiative is “one of many programs we are executing” on testing. Other avenues include allowing people to get reimbursed by private health insurers for tests they buy at a retailer. 

Read more here. 

 

White House threatens to claw back funds 

The Biden administration is threatening to claw back federal COVID-19 relief funding from Arizona unless the state stops directing the money to schools without disguise mandates. 

In a letter sent Friday, the Treasury Department said Arizona’s $163 million Education Plus-Up Grant Program and its COVID-19 Educational Recovery assistance Program undermine efforts to stop the coronavirus.

The programs, funded with payments from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, impose conditions that discourage compliance with wearing masks in schools, the letter said. 

The funds are intended “to mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the COVID-19 public health emergency, including by supporting efforts to stop the spread of the virus,” Treasury noted in the letter.

What Arizona does: The state’s Plus-Up Grant Program only directs funding to schools that don’t have disguise requirements, and the $10 million Educational Recovery assistance Program provides up to $7,000 per student to parents facing financial and educational barriers due to having children in schools that are deemed to be imposing “unnecessary closures and school mandates.”

The threat: Gov. Doug Ducey
Doug DuceyTreasury threatens to claw back COVID-19 funds because of Arizona school anti-disguise rules Discrimination case haunts Democrats in Arizona governor contest Conservative group targets Tester, Sinema, Kelly MORE
‘s (R) office has 60 days to redirect federal funds to eligible users or change the two programs so they are in compliance. If not, the federal government said it will move to retrieve the relief money. The Treasury Department threatened to withhold the next tranche of aid in addition.

Read more here.

 

FAUCI: NOT CLEAR in addition IF YEARLY BOOSTERS NEEDED

President Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill’s Morning Report: Biden takes it on the chin Dr. Oz calls Fauci a ‘petty tyrant,’ challenges him to argue Fauci says it is not clear in addition if people will need yearly boosters MORE said in an interview that it is not clear in addition if people will need yearly COVID-19 boosters, already as the chief executives of several drugmakers have indicated a fourth vaccine measure may be necessary. 

“We’ve only recently boosted people. We will find out if the booster gives you a degree of durability of protection and truly should be the standard regimen of three doses of an mRNA and two doses of J&J,” Fauci said in an interview with NBC News published on Thursday.  

“Or — and it’s a big ‘or’ right now — will we need to raise people every year or so?” he continued. 

Fauci said that he while it was a good thing that the original ancestral strain of COVID-19 was used in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine — because “we were fortunate that already though [strains] were different, they were not so different that the vaccine didn’t cover it well” — omicron has muddled the situation. 

“We were doing quite well with a dominant vaccination and a raise with delta. Then all of a sudden omicron came along,” Fauci told the network. “And if you look at the efficacy against the delta versus omicron, it went down to around 30 percent.” 

The leading infectious diseases expert said that he wants a vaccine that would ideally be effective against all kinds of COVID-19 variants. 

Read more here. 

‘PHARMA BRO’ BANNED FOR LIFE

Martin Shkreli, the “Pharma Bro” who considerably raised the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, was told by a estimate on Friday that he could no longer work within the pharmaceutical industry and was ordered to pay close to $65 million “in net profits from his wrongdoing.” 

U.S. District estimate Denise Cote called his scheme to raise the price of Daraprim “particularly heartless and coercive” in her decision on Friday. 

“He cynically took advantage of the requirements of a federal regulatory scheme designed to protect the health of a nation by ensuring that its population has access to drugs that are not only effective but also safe,” Cole said in her decision. 

In her strong rebuke, Cole also said that Shkreli had not expressed any remorse for his actions. She noted that “the risk of recurrence here is real.” 

“Shkreli’s anticompetitive conduct at the expense of the public health was flagrant and reckless. He is unrepentant. Barring him from the opportunity to repeat that conduct is nothing if not in the interest of justice,” Cole said. 

Read more here.

situations spike in long-term care facilities 

Long-term care facilities’ coronavirus situations have skyrocketed over three weeks due to the omicron variant.  

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and National Center for Assisted Living, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes across the country, found that situations spiked between Dec. 19 and Jan. 9.

COVID-19 situations for nursing home residents on Dec. 19 were at 4,361, and situations on Jan. 9 were at 32,061. For nursing home staff, situations went from 5,919 on Dec. 19 to 57,243 on Jan. 9. 

“As soon as news of Omicron broke in December, we were very concerned this variant would rule to a surge of situations in the U.S. and consequently, an increase in situations in nursing homes and unfortunately it has,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA and  National Center for Assisted Living, said. 

“We urged members of the public to help us protect our nation’s seniors ahead of the holiday season, and we reiterate that plea today. Help sustain our frontline caregivers and safeguard our most unprotected by getting vaccinated, boosted and masked,” he additional. 

The group reported that the rate of death was 10 times lower among nursing home residents in December of 2021 compared to 2020, crediting vaccines and booster shots for the decline in severity. 

Read more here.  

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • No one has any idea how much money seniors could pay for new Alzheimer’s drug (Stat)  
  • As Omicron surges, efforts to vaccinate young children stall (Kaiser Health News)
  • Obamacare open enrollment ends Saturday as interest surges (CNN)

 

STATE BY STATE

  • Texas schools struggle to stay open as teachers and bus drivers call in sick with COVID-19 (Texas Tribune)  
  • As Massachusetts hospitals flounder with COVID surge, Gov. Charlie Baker announces emergency actions (Mass Live)  
  • New Virginia Governor Youngkin to Lift School disguise Mandate, Change COVID Policies (NBC Washington)  

 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you on Monday.



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