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Congress is transferring towards completion of its annual spending payments for the fiscal 12 months 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 courtroom has dominated that the administration overstepped in the dispute-resolution portion of its measure to bar “shock” medical payments, after docs and hospitals charged that the components would favor well being insurers in billing disagreements.

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

Amongst the takeaways from this week’s episode:

When the last-minute dispute arose over covid funding in the federal spending invoice for 2022, Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled that part of the invoice. The Home then handed the total spending measure and despatched it to the Senate. Pelosi stated Congress will have a look at that spending individually later.
The dispute grew out of Republican complaints that they don’t wish to help 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 new initiative. However state governors — together with Republicans — and a few Democratic lawmakers balked at the deal.
Administration officers say they’ve used all the covid funds already appropriated and wish extra money 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 public and efforts to arrange for 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 offers the FDA authority to manage “artificial” nicotine, a key ingredient in some vaping merchandise.
Republicans scored a political win in the invoice, nonetheless, by insisting that it proceed to incorporate the so-called Hyde Modification, which prohibits federal funds from getting used for abortion companies. Democrats had promised to delete that ban however couldn’t muster sufficient votes to make it occur.
The administration’s plan to arrange “check and deal with” protocols, through which individuals who check constructive for covid may instantly be prescribed antiviral medicine at drugstores, ran head-on into robust opposition from the American Medical Affiliation, which says solely docs ought to be capable to prescribe medicine. The administration says in search of a health care provider’s appointment or prescription usually takes too lengthy for sufferers since the medicine, to work correctly, should be began very early in the course of an an infection.
A federal decide in Texas final week struck down guidelines specifying how insurers, hospitals, and docs resolve billing variations when a affected person has acquired a shock medical invoice. A brand new regulation protects sufferers from these payments, which can consequence once 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 docs in the go well with, stated the plan’s guidelines don’t comply with the regulation handed by Congress. Beneath the Biden administration plan, the well being care supplier and the insurer every current their greatest supply on the billing dispute to an arbitrator, who can take into account many elements however ought to give biggest consideration to the quantity closest to the median in-network charge for the service in query. Docs and hospitals say that’s unfair to them, however the administration has argued that normal may help maintain prices from escalating.
State legislators are busy anticipating a doable resolution by the Supreme Court docket that will weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade, which assured entry to abortion nationwide. In Missouri, a lawmaker has proposed that the state discover a approach to penalize residents who journey out of state for an abortion. And a few states are trying for methods to restrict entry to abortion drugs ordered on-line and delivered by the mail.

Plus, for additional credit score, the panelists advocate their favourite well being coverage tales of the week they assume you need to 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:’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

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