Health Care — Immigration dispute holds up COVID funds

Former President Obama returned to the White House on Tuesday for the first time in over five years, and President Biden poked some fun at his famous “BFD” remark from 2010.

Today we’ll examine why more pandemic relief funding might not make it through the Senate as lawmakers spar over the repeal of Title 42, plus a new review at the CDC.

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.

Title 42 fight threatens to stall $10B relief package

COVID-19 funding might not pass this week after all.

A $10 billion compromise COVID-19 relief bill is at risk of stalling in the Senate because of a partisan fight over whether to allow a vote on an amendment to reinstate the Title 42 restrictions that had been used to deny migrants’ asylum claims at the US Mexico border.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) warned Republicans on Tuesday not to take the bill “hostage” by insisting on a vote to amend the bill with a provision to keep Title 42 in place.

“The bottom line is this is a bipartisan agreement that does a whole lot of good for the American people: Vaccines, testing, therapeutics. It should not be held hostage for an extraneous issue,” he told reporters when asked whether Republicans’ insistence on the border amendment threatened the passage of the relief bill.

Schumer showed little inclination to give Republicans a vote on restoring Title 42, which would likely pass if set at a 50-vote threshold because at least five Democrats have already criticized Biden’s decision to lift it.

“As I said, this is a bipartisan bill, it was negotiated in good faith. It should not be held hostage to extraneous, unrelated issues,” he reiterated.

Read more here.

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OBAMA JOINS BIDEN FOR FIRST WHITE HOUSE APPEARANCE SINCE 2017

Former President Barack Obama returned to the White House on Tuesday for the first time since leaving office, where he was welcomed back with open arms by a host of Democrats and members of the Biden administration.

Obama appeared alongside President Biden and Vice President Harris in a packed East Room, where he received a standing ovation from lawmakers, Cabinet officials and health care advocates for an event touting effort to strengthen the Affordable Care Act.

Both Obama and Biden joked fondly about their time in office, with Obama referring to Biden as “vice president” and Biden introducing himself as “Barack Obama’s vice president.”

Obama did not visit the White House at all during the Trump administration and has largely avoided the political limelight since leaving office outside of a few campaign trail appearances. While he was there Tuesday to highlight how the Affordable Care Act has been strengthened since it was passed 12 years ago, it was also an opportunity for Obama to revel in his return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“It is good to be back in the White House. It’s been while,” Obama said. “I confess, I heard some changes have been made by the current president since I was last here.”

Read more here.

CDC ANNOUNCES SWEEPING AGENCY REVIEW

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday announced in an internal email a sweeping review of the agency.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told employees that Jim Macrae, associate administrator for primary health care at the Health Resources and Services Administration, would be conducting a one-month review of the organization that has been in the public spotlight amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning on Monday, Macrae will begin evaluating current COVID-19 efforts and “provide me with insight on how the delivery of our science and program can be further strengthened during this critical time of transition,” according to Walensky.

“At the conclusion of this collective effort, we will develop new systems and processes to deliver our science and program to the American people, along with a plan for how CDC should be structured to facilitate the public health work we do,” Walensky wrote.

The review comes more than two years after the coronavirus pandemic began, throughout which the CDC has faced intense scrutiny.

Read more here.

WH proposes fix to ‘family glitch’ in ObamaCare

Biden is aiming to amend an Obama Care rule that was laid out by the Obama White House.

The Biden administration is proposing a rule change to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to fix the so-called “family glitch” that blocks millions of people who receive health care through a family member’s work from qualifying for assistance with coverage.

During a press call, a senior administration official said the Treasury Department on Tuesday will release a proposal to change ObamaCare’s rules, allowing individuals in households that spend more than 10 percent of their income on health insurance to qualify for financial assistance.

Under the current rules, the ACA provides financial assistance to single customers who spend more than 9.83 percent of their income on their company’s health plan premium.

Spouses and children who are covered by a family member’s company-provided health plan are considered to have affordable coverage by the ACA, regardless of what percentage of their income they put towards their health insurance. This rule prevents an estimated 5 million people from qualifying for subsidized healthcare plans.

Expanded eligibility: With the Treasury’s “modified interpretation” of the ACA, if coverage costs more than 10 percent of a household’s total income, then nonemployee family members will be eligible for financial assistance during the next open enrollment period.

Read more here.

Biden orders ramped up efforts against long COVID

President Biden on Tuesday ordered his administration to step up efforts to fight long COVID-19, seeking to address lingering symptoms in millions of people even as the overall COVID-19 situation improves.

Biden issued a presidential memorandum directing the secretary of Health and Human Services to develop “the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID.”

As part of the effort, the administration said it would accelerate enrollment into the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) study of long COVID-19. Stat News reported last week that there has been frustration among experts at the slow pace of enrollment in the NIH’s long COVID-19 study.

Biden also directed a report to be issued within 120 days outlining the resources available across government agencies to support people with long COVID-19.

People with long COVID-19 can experience a range of lingering symptoms months after contracting the virus, such as fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Shanghai extends lockdown to entire city as tests show Covid spread (NBC)
  • Federal Funding for Uninsured to Get COVID-19 Vaccines Ends Tonight (NBC 4)
  • ‘All the shrapnel that’s in my back’: Defiant Robert Redfield blasts former CDC directors for criticism during Covid-19 (Stat)

STATE BY STATE

  • gov. Kevin Stitt to decide on bill making abortion illegal in Oklahoma (The Oklahoman)
  • Colorado now guarantees the right to abortion in state law (The Denver Post)
  • Massachusetts reports zero new COVID deaths for first time in nine months (Mass Live)

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

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