From Politico

Biden’s Health Agenda is About to Get Bigger

January 6, 2021

BIDEN’s HEALTH AMBITIONS JUST GOT BIGGER — If Democrats’ lead in a Georgia runoff holds, it would give Biden 50 votes in the Senate – and breathe a whole lot of life into his administration’s health care plans.

— The immediate impact: Biden gets his Cabinet. Adding Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate means that suddenly Republicans’ threats to block HHS nominee Xavier Becerra from confirmation over his abortion rights record don’t mean much of anything. And that would go doubly for Neera Tanden, the Office of Management and Budget pick whose nomination many Republicans (and quietly, several Democrats) deemed dead on arrival just a few weeks ago.

BIDEN’s HEALTH AMBITIONS JUST GOT BIGGER — If Democrats’ lead in a Georgia runoff holds, it would give Biden 50 votes in the Senate – and breathe a whole lot of life into his administration’s health care plans.

— The immediate impact: Biden gets his Cabinet. Adding Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to the Senate means that suddenly Republicans’ threats to block HHS nominee Xavier Becerra from confirmation over his abortion rights record don’t mean much of anything. And that would go doubly for Neera Tanden, the Office of Management and Budget pick whose nomination many Republicans (and quietly, several Democrats) deemed dead on arrival just a few weeks ago.

Instead, they’d only need to convince 50 Democrats to back them, a process that a newly Democratic-controlled Senate will be eager to speed along….

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Biden Forms Special Covid Transition Team

November 12, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has formed a special transition team dedicated to coordinating the coronavirus response across the government, according to documents obtained by POLITICO and people familiar with the decision.

The group consists of dozens of transition officials and cuts across a slew of federal agencies, in a sign of the comprehensive approach that Biden is planning to take toward combating the worsening pandemic.

President-elect Joe Biden has formed a special transition team dedicated to coordinating the coronavirus response across the government, according to documents obtained by POLITICO and people familiar with the decision.

The group consists of dozens of transition officials and cuts across a slew of federal agencies, in a sign of the comprehensive approach that Biden is planning to take toward combating the worsening pandemic.

The Covid-19 team has not yet been formally announced and is largely separate from the coronavirus task force that Biden unveiled Monday, which is primarily advising Biden and handling the incoming administration’s public messaging. The transition group, still in its infancy, met virtually for the first time on Tuesday and is likely to lay the groundwork for a White House Covid-19 response team to be created after Biden is inaugurated, one member of the team said….

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SCOTUS Sets Hearing on Obamacare for Week After Election

August 19, 2020

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will hear the Trump administration-backed challenge to Obamacare on Nov. 10, exactly one week after the presidential election.

The timing of the oral arguments could energize Democratic campaign efforts to highlight the GOP-led lawsuit, which seeks to overturn the entire health care law.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will hear the Trump administration-backed challenge to Obamacare on Nov. 10, exactly one week after the presidential election.

The timing of the oral arguments could energize Democratic campaign efforts to highlight the GOP-led lawsuit, which seeks to overturn the entire health care law.

Background: Democrats are making the GOP assault against insurance protections for preexisting conditions a central message in battleground districts, replicating the 2018 strategy that helped them take back control of House of Representatives. Speakers at the Democratic National Convention this week have attacked President Donald Trump’s support for the lawsuit, which jeopardizes consumer protections and health insurance for about 20 million people covered by the Obamacare….

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Next Testing Debacle: The Fall Virus Surge

June 18, 2020

The U.S is now conducting more than 3 million coronavirus tests a week, a big improvement over the shortages and failures that worsened the pandemic this spring. But the country risks another dangerous testing deficit this fall when schools and businesses try to reopen.

Safely reopening schools and businesses could require up to 30 million tests per week, rather than the current three million, certain experts say. And if surging coronavirus cases collide with flu season, the demand could be even higher.

The U.S is now conducting more than 3 million coronavirus tests a week, a big improvement over the shortages and failures that worsened the pandemic this spring. But the country risks another dangerous testing deficit this fall when schools and businesses try to reopen.

Safely reopening schools and businesses could require up to 30 million tests per week, rather than the current three million, certain experts say. And if surging coronavirus cases collide with flu season, the demand could be even higher.

“We could have a situation that would stretch us,” said Nate Smith, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Health. “We’re likely to see people who are infected with both at the same time. No one knows exactly how that’s going to look….”

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The ‘Hard Slog’ of Waiting for a Coronavirus Vaccine

June 10, 2020

What if all it took for the world to return to normal was a shot in the arm?

Politicians are repeating the mantra that a coronavirus vaccine is the exit strategy. But getting there is neither simple nor even guaranteed.

“A vaccine is not a given,” said David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology and distinguished fellow at Chatham House.

What if all it took for the world to return to normal was a shot in the arm?

Politicians are repeating the mantra that a coronavirus vaccine is the exit strategy. But getting there is neither simple nor even guaranteed.

“A vaccine is not a given,” said David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology and distinguished fellow at Chatham House.

There are hundreds of vaccine candidates in development, but the vast majority will fail. Assuming one is successful, it could take years to manufacture billions of doses for the entire globe….

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