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Today in health care, the Biden administration is preparing for a booster campaign with updated shots in the early fall.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
HHS buys 66M doses of updated Moderna vaccine
An updated vaccine could be coming in early fall.
The Biden administration announced that it is buying 66 million doses of updated Moderna COVID-19 vaccine targeting the omicron variant ahead of a planned booster campaign starting in “early fall.”
- The updated vaccine will specifically target the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron which are currently circulating and fueling a new increase in hospitalizations.
- The Moderna purchase comes on top of an order placed last month for
105 million doses of Pfizer’s updated vaccine.
The first deliveries of the updated vaccines from both companies will begin in “early fall,” the Department of Health and Human Services said Friday, allowing the booster shot campaign to begin then, assuming the Food and Drug Administration formally signs off on the updated shots.
Funding problems: The Biden administration is using money that it had to cut from other areas of the pandemic response to make the purchase of the updated vaccines, given that Congress has not provided new funding. The administration has warned that it has had to take from other important areas, like maintaining testing capacity and research on even better vaccines that can target all variants at once.
Maloney: Monkeypox a ‘public health emergency’
The chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Friday called on the Biden administration to declare monkeypox a public health emergency.
“As the monkeypox virus continues to spread across the United States, I urge you to immediately declare a public health emergency so that the federal government can use every resource and tool available in its response and rapidly increase availability and access to vaccines, tests, and treatments nationwide,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
HHS non-committal: The World Health Organization on July 23 declared monkeypox an international public health emergency, though Becerra said he has not made any decision yet.
“We continue to monitor the response throughout the country on monkeypox,” Becerra said at a briefing Thursday. “We will weigh any decision on declaring a public health emergency based on the response we’re seeing throughout the country. The bottom line is: we need to stay ahead of this and be able to end this outbreak.”
VETS STAGE SIT-IN AT CAPITOL OVER BURN PITS VOTE
A group of veterans is staging a sit-in at the Capitol in response to Senate Republicans blocking a bill that would extend health care benefits to millions of veterans who were exposed to toxins during their service.
Senate turnabout: Twenty-five senators went from supporting the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act when it passed the Senate 84-14 last month to helping filibuster the bill when a technically updated version was blocked 55-42 on Wednesday.
“We got punched in the gut, right by those 25 senators that flipped their vote from yesterday,” Burn Pits 360 Executive Director and co-founder Rosie Torres told The Hill late Thursday.
Torres said the veterans rights group was spending the night on the steps of the U.S. Capitol “as a message to those senators, those 25 senators and asking them to right the wrong.”
“They shouldn’t be here, and to know that we’re in that America where they’ve turned their backs on veterans and their families are sick and dying. It’s disgusting. But if this is what we have to do to get the bill passed, and at all costs, all measures, we’re going to get it done,” she said.
ALLERGAN REACHES TENTATIVE SETTLEMENT ON OPIOID LAWSUITS
Drugmaker AbbVie on Friday said it has agreed in principle to pay more than
$2 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits related to the marketing of opioids by Allergan, a former opioid manufacturer that has since been bought by AbbVie.
The complete terms of the settlement have not yet been finalized, and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general said precise state allocations have yet to be announced.
The monetary impact: If finalized, the Allergan settlement, together with the Teva Pharmaceuticals settlement announced earlier this week, would provide as much as $6.6 billion nationwide.
The $2.37 billion settlement would end the lawsuits of more than 3,000 state and local governments. Some states, like New York, have reached separate settlements with the company, and the figure would include those settlements as well.
“We’ve worked hard to get the best result for Americans harmed by the opioid crisis, and it’s rewarding to take another step in the right direction,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (D) said in a statement. “We continue to make it a priority to hold manufacturers responsible, while ensuring victims of this epidemic receive the help they need.”
Dems waiting for Sinema’s verdict on economic package
The fate of a range of health care provisions in Democrats’ sweeping package is now in the hands of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
Senate Democrats are walking on eggshells around Sinema, crossing their fingers that she will agree to support a sweeping health care, tax reform and climate bill that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced Wednesday.
Sinema was left out of the last-stage negotiations between Manchin and Schumer, though she played a large role in crafting the prescription drug reform bill that will be included in a budget reconciliation package along with the tax and climate provisions.
The Arizona senator, who played a central role in crafting the bipartisan infrastructure bill that became law last year as well as the recently passed gun safety legislation, declined to answer questions as she left the Capitol Thursday.
Sinema has already expressed her support for setting a 15 percent corporate minimum tax for companies that earn more than $1 billion in profits, a centerpiece of the deal that would raise $313 billion.
One of the big questions is on taxes: The bigger question is whether she’ll agree to close the carried interest tax loophole that allows asset managers to pay only a
20 percent capital gains tax rate on income earned from managing profitable investments. Closing it would raise an estimated $14 billion over 10 years.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Officials steer away from mask mandates and mitigation measures despite COVID rise (ABC News)
- Three Pressing Questions About Monkeypox: Spread, Vaccination, Treatment (New York Times)
- Abortion ruling will worsen military personnel crisis, Pentagon says (Washington Post)
STATE BY STATE
- Hospitals report more cases of parechovirus in infants: ‘This is not normal’ (CBS News)
- San Francisco, New York state declare monkeypox emergencies as outbreak grows (The Washington Post)
- As monkeypox spreads, health experts urge Texas universities to prepare for outbreaks (Texas Tribune)
OP-EDS IN THE HILL
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.