Broader pandemic aid fight could ensnare long covid funding


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Good morning, y’all. The answer to yesterday’s question: Chocolate and Chip. Those weren’t among the guesses we received, but there’s always next year. 

Today’s edition: Newly revealed federal audits show millions in Medicare Advantage overcharges. Some of the largest drug companies stopped buying ads on Twitter after the Eli Lilly spoof. But first … 

More covid funding isn’t on GOP’s holiday wish list

The federal health department released a report on long covid yesterday that includes a sweeping call to help the millions of Americans suffering from the sometimes debilitating condition. 

To better fulfill that mission, Biden officials have asked Congress for $750 million aimed at accelerating research and treatments for long covid, part of a broader $9.25 billion request for emergency aid to combat the pandemic. 

But securing more money is an uphill battle on Capitol Hill. Aides on both sides of the aisle, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid, suggested it was unlikely that Congress would approve the administration’s pandemic request during December’s lame-duck session.

A senior Democratic aide said that “Republicans have been very resistant to any new covid funding.” On the GOP side, a Senate health committee aide said the administration hasn’t made a convincing argument on why the new emergency spending is needed. The office of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pointed to comments he made to Punchbowl News last month where he said he would oppose any requests for new covid funding. 

It’s the latest salvo in the months-long battle between the Biden administration and congressional Republicans for more pandemic aid. Several outside experts contend more federal funding is needed to speed up the country’s understanding of long covid, since researchers don’t yet understand the mechanism causing the condition.

Some public health officials view long covid as a growing crisis. The number of Americans with the condition — which can consist of chest pain, brain fog, lingering fatigue and tremors — is expected to rise as the virus becomes entrenched in the country. In October, roughly 7 percent of U.S. adults said they were currently experiencing long covid, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey. 

The Department of Health and Human Services says its funding request is aimed at efforts like helping vulnerable patients get the care they need by investing in places like health centers, primary-care providers and other community-based organizations. The dollars would also be aimed at continuing to invest in a National Institutes of Health initiative to understand long covid and other efforts, like researching how to best provide care to smaller communities, an HHS spokesperson wrote in an email. 

Republicans have repeatedly called on the Biden administration to explain how it has spent dollars Congress allocated to fight the pandemic. Yet, some advocates on and off the Hill say they’ll be pushing hard for more cash to address long covid despite the dim prospects for covid aid on Capitol Hill. 

  • “I’ve got it on my short to-do list…



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