Biden's administration may need more funds to fight Omicron.

Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, hinted on Tuesday that the Biden administration may need to ask Congress for...

Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, hinted on Tuesday that the Biden administration may need to ask Congress for more money to fight the coronavirus pandemic, depending on the scale and the severity of a potential new wave of infections fueled by the Omicron variant.

In a panel discussion with reporters that focused heavily on testing, Becerra noted that while the administration has some flexibility to move money, out of the $ 50 billion Congress has allocated to testing, about $ 10 billion remains. President Biden has made extensive testing a centerpiece of the winter pandemic strategy he recently announced.

“Are we going to have more than $ 10 billion in needs and costs on Covid, especially when it comes to testing? Said Mr. Becerra. “There’s a good chance we will, depending on where Omicron takes us. He added that experts in his department were trying to make projections to determine whether additional funding would be needed – before the need became urgent.

“The president said we have to stay one step ahead, so we don’t want to ask Congress for money once we know we need it,” he said.

As the pandemic enters its third year and Omicron on the horizon, much of the money Congress has allocated to the coronavirus response has been spent. The $ 2 trillion CARES Act was signed by former President Donald J. Trump in March 2020, and the $ 1.9 trillion US bailout was signed by Mr. Biden in March 2021. Both were aimed at stimulating the economy and improving the health of Americans. needs during the crisis.

The bailout included $ 14 billion to speed up vaccine distribution and $ 130 billion to help schools reopen safely, among other coronavirus-related provisions. But the plan, and the CARES law that preceded it, went into effect before the emergence of the Delta variant this summer, causing an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, adding pressure to an already existing healthcare system. overload.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed the Omicron cases, which have now appeared in more than 20 states. “Even though most infections are mild, a highly transmissible variant could result in enough cases to overwhelm health systems,” agency officials wrote in a statement. report last week.

As the first evidence began to emerge on Omicron, it is still not clear how often cases lead to hospitalizations or deaths. The variant appears to be able to partially bypass the body’s immune defenses, but it remains to be seen how well vaccination and previous infection can protect individuals from serious illness.

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Social Services announced that it was releasing $ 9 billion in “Relief fund for providers” payments to bolster hospitals and other health care providers that have suffered revenue losses due to the pandemic. More than 69,000 vendors in all 50 states, plus Washington, DC and eight territories, will receive payments.

In September, the ministry announced it would spend a total of $ 25.5 billion on the effort. This includes the $ 9 billion released Thursday and the $ 8.5 billion released last week for rural health care providers. The rest of the funds will be disbursed in 2022.

When he recently announced his winter strategy, Biden pledged to fight the pandemic with “science and speed.” He said people who buy rapid home coronavirus tests would soon be eligible for reimbursement from their insurers, and that to ensure access to the uninsured, the federal government would distribute 25 million tests to community health centers and clinics. rural clinics.

After the announcement, administration officials said people the purchase of the tests should request reimbursement, rather than being reimbursed at the pharmacy as when filling prescriptions. Some public health experts and consumer advocates opposed it. Mr Becerra said Thursday his ministry was still figuring out the details. A number of states have been distribution of free tests at home, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Colorado, and Ohio.

Other countries spent more on rapid tests. In Britain, citizens can use a government website to order free rapid tests to use at home. Germany has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to create a network of 15,000 rapid test sites. Instead, the United States has focused its government procurement on vaccines and efforts to encourage uptake.

On Tuesday, Becerra pledged, “We are going to make sure that the American people have access to the tests and that they do not have to pay out of pocket.

“How exactly is it done, we are working with our team to make it happen,” he added. “We hope it will go as smoothly as possible. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden's administration may need more funds to fight Omicron.
Biden's administration may need more funds to fight Omicron.
Newsrust - US Top News
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