Archive for April, 2021


Federal Health Policy Update for Thursday, April 29

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 29.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents.

The White House


Health Policy News

  • Speaking before a joint session of Congress, President Biden on Wednesday night formally presented his proposed American Families Plan.  In general, the plan defers action on most health care matters to other, separate legislation, but it does call for $200 billion to permanently expand Affordable Care Act health insurance subsidies and another $225 billion for paid medical leave.  The president also called on Congress to authorize the federal government to engage in some price negotiation for prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries and urged the National Institutes of Health to establish a new agency devoted to developing breakthrough cancer cures.  Go here to see a summary of the American Families Plan.

Department of Health and Human Services

Health Policy News

  • Earlier this week HHS announced the availability of $1 billion for Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-Health Center Program

Federal Health Policy Update for Tuesday, April 27

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27.

The White House


Health Policy News


  • The New Democrat Coalition is a group of 94 mostly centrist Democrats working to bridge the gap between left and right on health care by offering proposals that seek to build on the policy infrastructure that currently exists rather than replacing it.  The coalition has written to President Biden with its list of policy recommendations that it asks him to incorporate into the American Families Plan.  Learn more about the New Democrat Coalition here and learn more about the health care policies it espouses in its recent letter to President Biden.
  • A group of 17 Democratic senators has written to President Biden asking him to pursue expansion of Medicare in his soon-to-be-unveiled American Families

Some Insurers Phasing Out Free COVID-19 Care

Some insurers that waived member costs for treatment for COVID-19 are beginning to reintroduce deductibles, co-payments, and other costs associated with treating the virus.

Waiving such costs was always voluntary and not imposed by the federal government.  As a result, insurers face no limits on the restoration of their members’ share of care costs.

Vaccines and most tests remain available without cost.

Learn more about how consumer costs for COVID-19 care came to be waived by insurers and how they are now on path to restoration for those covered by some insurers, and likely more insurers in the coming months, in the Kaiser Health News article “Time to Say Goodbye to Some Insurers’ Waivers for Covid Treatment Fees.”


Has the White House Lost Faith in the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine?

Between the issues that resulted in a brief federal pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and production problems plaguing the company’s production contractor, the Biden administration is not necessarily counting on the vaccine in the future.  According to Politico, “…privately, frustrated senior health officials have largely written off the shot, according to seven people with knowledge of the matter.”

In addition, “… the chaos has disappointed the Biden team, which once argued that the company’s one-dose vaccine would be central to turning the tide of the pandemic.  Instead, the administration has concluded that the company can’t be counted on for any significant production until it gets the green light from regulators to resume vaccination, according to two sources.

Learn more about the vaccine’s problems and the administration’s perspective on it in the Politico article “White House writes off Johnson & Johnson vaccine after string of production failures.”


Health Care Reportedly Out of Biden American Families Plan

President Biden’s soon-to-be-introduced “American Families Plan” proposal apparently will not include a major health care component.

The New York Times reports that

The plan will not include an up to $700 billion effort to expand health coverage or reduce government spending on prescription drugs. Officials have decided to instead pursue health care as a separate initiative…

Learn more about what is expected from the American Families Plan – and what is not expected – in the New York Times article “Biden Will Seek Tax Increase on Rich to Fund Child Care and Education.”