Category Archives: Health Care

NYS Makes Significant Investment in Feinstein Institutes to Make Long Island a Life Sciences Global Leader 

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul at Northwell Health on Long Island announces new funding for the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research’s Center for Bioelectronic Medicine and funding to expand life sciences on Long Island, including a $50 million competition to incentivize commercialization of new discoveries © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the $350 million Long Island Investment Fund awarded its first grant to the The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research to construct 40,000 square feet of new state-of-the-art labs to support medical and infectious disease research. The $10 million Long Island Investment Fund grant complements an additional $30 million in State support previously awarded to the Feinstein Institutes to modernize 20,000 square feet of its Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, which Governor Hochul opened today. New York State’s assistance is part of an $85 million modernization effort at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, Nassau County, and a broader initiative to highlight the growing life science industry on Long Island. The Feinstein Institutes is the research arm of Northwell Health and is one of the leading laboratory and research centers in the country, conducting cutting-edge studies that seek to cure diseases.

“New York is leading the way in medical innovation, and the Long Island Investment Fund will support life-saving research on the cutting edge of the life sciences industry,” Governor Hochul said.”Our investment in the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine is already improving the lives of everyday New Yorkers, and the additional Long Island Investment Fund award announced today reaffirms our commitment to remaining a national leader in the health and medical research fields. I am proud to support the Feinstein Institutes and their research, which will lead to life-changing medicine and treatments that will improve the lives of New Yorkers on Long Island and across the State.”

The field of bioelectronic medicine was born here, she said, thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, President and CEO of Feinstein Institutes, and the funding will enable this work to be greatly expanded, attracting top scientists from around the world.

Included as part of Governor Hochul’s FY 2023 Enacted Budget, the Long Island Investment Fund focuses on projects that will support and grow the regional economy, enhance communities, and have lasting economic impacts across Long Island. The Fund’s $10 million award to the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research will support the renovation and construction of 26 new state-of-the-art research labs on two floors as well as the hiring of 10 new principal investigators and 60 research employees. These modernized labs will advance research efforts to develop novel therapies for cancer, diabetes, obesity, lupus, and other conditions.

Long Island has become a life sciences hub, with a defined corridor that links Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Labs (energy), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (genomics) and Northwell’s Feinstein Institutes.

The state is also launching a $50 million life science business competition on Long Island, in order to bridge the divide between research and commercialization, and bring the innovations to market with start-ups, many of which may well come out of the four research institutions.

In all, New York is investing $620 million in life sciences sector, statewide.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul with Empire State Development’s President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight and Chairman Kevin Law, announce the $350 million Long Island Investment Fund, which will focus largely on developing life sciences research and businesses © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The Long Island Investment Fund represents a strategic investment to further enhance the region as a powerhouse for the life sciences industry, which is an important driver of New York State’s economy,” Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said. “The Feinstein Institutes play a critical role in life-changing medical discoveries and therapeutics that can improve our everyday lives. ESD is proud to support the growth of visionary life sciences companies like the Feinstein Institutes, whose work is crucial to building a healthier and stronger Empire State.”

The Feinstein Institutes is the global scientific home of bioelectronic medicine, a growing scientific field that uses technology to read and modulate electrical activity within the body’s nervous system. The new, modernized labs at the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine will support discoveries to find cures that will reduce the need for drugs, reduce painful side effects, and give life back to people who are suffering. Early discoveries have emerged from its labs, opening new treatment options for patients with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, paralysis, and even cancer. Clinical studies in bioelectronic medicine have already yielded results with those who are paralyzed: recent research utilizing an over-the-skin spinal cord stimulation patch has allowed participants to regain their ability to move and feel. 

Governor Hochul acknowledged that the new technology could also help in the state’s effort to diagnose and treat Long COVID which is afflicting so many New Yorkers.

The Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine’s renovation includes wet-lab bench space, multiple tissue culture rooms, cold storage rooms, workstations for researchers, and a brand-new Biosafety Level 3 facility to allow new research into infectious diseases and other complex viruses, such as COVID-19. The expansion also supports the hiring of 13 new principal investigators and 100 new research employees.

Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, President and CEO of Feinstein Institutes, in one of the new labs devoted to making breakthroughs in bioelectronic medicine. The facilities are expected to attract world-class researchers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Feinstein Institutes President and CEO Dr. Kevin Tracey said, “At the Feinstein Institutes, scientific progress is made every day. With the proper facilities and tools, we can help advance that progress even further. We are thankful to the Governor and Empire State Development for their funding of our new space, and we look forward to continuing our breakthrough medical research that will benefit our Long Island communities and beyond.”

Northwell Health’s President and CEO, Michael Dowling said,”This new facility and its resources, made possible by Governor Hochul and the Empire State Development, will allow our researchers at The Feinstein Institutes – Northwell’s home of research and the global scientific home of bioelectronic medicine – to pursue their mission of discovering new treatments to cure disease and improve the health of the communities we serve.”

Long Island is at the forefront of the life sciences industry as new research and discoveries in bioelectronic medicine – a new scientific field born and bred on Long Island – will attract the best and brightest researchers and world-leading strategic partners to create the cures that can transform lives. The life sciences industry has become a powerful engine of economic growth and innovation for New York, turning key regions of the State into dynamic life science hubs. Investing in life sciences is crucial to identify the next scientific or medical breakthrough that will develop new life-saving technologies. Through its support of the Feinstein Institutes’ growth, New York is expanding its ability to commercialize research and spur the growth of a world-class life science industry on Long Island and across the State.

“Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York is making smart investments to catalyze economic growth on Long Island. The Long Island Investment Fund will help the region thrive and strengthen New York’s leadership in the global innovation economy,” Empire State Development Board Chairman Kevin Law said. “The Fund’s $10 million award to the Feinstein Institutes reaffirms our commitment to the growing life sciences ecosystem that will support the advancement of game-changing medical discoveries.”

“Thanks to smart investments by the State of New York in partnership with the private sector, Long Island’s life sciences industry is growing and thriving, bringing great jobs to our community, and driving innovation that will make our world a better place,” State Senator Anna M. Kaplan said. “I fought for the Long Island Investment Fund to be included in this year’s state budget because we need to continue making smart investments in our community that build on our many strengths and make our region more attractive for private investors and job creators to set up shop and expand their operations locally. I’m thrilled that, thanks to this fund, the world-class Feinstein Institute for Medical Research right here in Manhasset will be able to modernize their Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine that’s doing incredible work to cure diseases and change the world.”

Dr. Kevin J. Tracey President and CEO of Feinstein Institutes discusses the breakthrough science of bioelectronic medicine © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During a walk-through of the new and renovated labs, Dr. Tracey explained how bioelectric medicine involves building devices to control nerves, to treat disease. “Pick a disease, pick target, figure out the  neural signals to control target.” The technology can be used to activate immune system to intercept a disease. “Send the right neural signal to the right nerve to trigger immune system.” It can be used to create new neural pathways to restore function to stroke victims, and has application to rehabilitation, such as the loss of hand function after a car accident.

But, he adds, you can’t treat a disease until you understand its mechanism, which is why mental illness is not on the list at this time.

“Things are happening fast,” he said, The FDA granted the technology “breakthrough” designation, which means the innovations can be fast tracked.

Devices invented at the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine at Feinstein are used to track neural impulses sent to specific disease targets © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the bioengineering lab, he points to the “wireless mouse” – not the computer device, but devices that can be inserted into a mouse to receive signals to stimulate specific nerves, and send the nerve recording back. A mouse is important for research because scientists can create disease in the mouse genetically, locate it, and generate the evidence that can be used to treat humans.

Investing in the Future of Long Island

The $10 million Long Island Investment Fund grant announced today complements historic initiatives and investments for Long Island:

  • $157 million investment — repaving 300 lane miles of state highways to date.
  • More than $457 million for school aid – a 12.7 percent increase compared to FY 2022.
  • $63 million for addiction treatment, recovery and prevention services.
  • The homeowner Tax Rebate Credit, with an average benefit of $1,300 for 494,000 Long Island homeowners.
  • $500 million to develop New York’s offshore wind infrastructure and supply chain – ultimately creating more than 2,000 green jobs.
  • Completing Long Island Rail Road’s historic Third Track project, allowing trains to run more often and creating a smoother ride for LIRR commuters.

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Biden Signs Historic Inflation Reduction Act:  ‘It’s about tomorrow. It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families’

Here is an edited, highlighted transcript of President Joe Biden’s remarks as he signed the Inflation Reduction Act, with historic investments in climate action, long-fought improvements in health care and prescription drug affordability, tax reform and deficit reduction, and in the immortal words of Biden as Obama’s VP, a “BFD.” –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden signs the historic, transformative Inflation Reduction Act, saying “It’s about tomorrow. It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families.” The act makes historic investments in climate action, long-fought improvements in health care and prescription drug affordability, tax reform and deficit reduction, and in the immortal words of Biden as Obama’s VP, a “BFD.” (via C-Span)

I’m about to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law, one of the most significant laws in our history.  Let me say from the start: With this law, the American people won and the special interests lost.  The American people won and the special interests lost. 

For a while, people doubted whether any of that was going to happen. But we are in a season of substance.  This administration began amid a dark time in America — as Jim said, “a once-in-a-century pandemic” — devastating joblessness, clear and present threats to democracy and the rule of law, doubts about America’s future itself.  

And yet, we’ve not wavered.  We’ve not flinched.  And we’ve not given in.  Instead, we’re delivering results for the American people.  We didn’t tear down; we built up.  We didn’t look back; we looked forward.

And today — today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real and just beginning.  (Applause.) 

Look, the bill I’m about to sign is not just about today, it’s about tomorrow.  It’s about delivering progress and prosperity to American families.

It’s about showing the American and the American people that democracy still works in America — notwithstanding all the — all the talk of its demise — not just for the privileged few, but for all of us.

You know, I swore an oath of office to you and to God to faithfully execute the duties of this sacred office.

To me, the critical duty — the critical duty of the presidency is to defend what is best about America.  And that’s not hyperbole.  Defend what’s best about America.  To pursue justice, to ensure fairness, and to deliver results that create possibilities — possibilities that all of us — all of us can live a life of consequence and prosperity in a nation that’s safe and secure.  That’s the job.  

Fulfilling that pledge to you guides me every single hour of every single day in this job.  

You know, presidents should be judged not only by our words, but by our deeds; not by our rhetoric, but by our actions; not by our promise, but by reality.  

And today is part of an extraordinary story that’s being written by this administration and our brave allies in the Congress.

This law — this law that I’m about to sign finally delivers on a promise that Washington has made for decades to the American people.  

I got here as a 29-year-old kid.  We were promising to make sure that Medicare would have the power to negotiate lower drug prices back then — back then — prescription drug prices.  

But guess what?  We’re giving Medicare the power to negotiate those prices now, on some drugs.

This means seniors are going to pay less for their prescription drugs while we’re changing circumstances for people on Medicare by putting a cap — a cap of a maximum of $2,000 a year on their prescription drug costs, no matter what the reason for those prescriptions are.

That means if you’re on Medicare, you’ll never have to pay more than $2,000 a year no matter how many prescriptions you have, whether it’s for cancer or any other disease.  No more than $2,000 a year.

And you all know it because a lot of you come from families that need this.  This is a Godsend.  This is a Godsend to many families and so, so long overdue. 


The Inflation Reduction Act locks in place lower healthcare premiums for millions of families who get their coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  

Last year, a family of four saved on average $2,400 through the American Rescue Plan that I signed into law that Congress voted in place.

In the years ahead, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, 13 million people are going to continue — continue to save an average of $800 a year on health insurance.

The Inflation Reduction Act invests $369 billion to take the most aggressive action ever — ever, ever, ever — in confronting the climate crisis and strengthening our economic — our energy security.

It’s going to offer working families thousands of dollars in savings by providing them rebates to buy new and efficient appliances, weatherize their homes, get tax credit for purchasing heat pumps and rooftop solar, electric stoves, ovens, dryers.
 
It gives consumers a tax credit to buy electric vehicles or fuel cell vehicles, new or used.  And it gives them a credit — a tax credit of up to $7,500 if those vehicles were made in America. 

American auto companies, along with American labor, are committing their treasure and their talent — billions of dollars in investment — to make electric vehicles and battery and electric charging stations all across America, made in America.  All of it made in America.

This new law also provides tax credits that’s going to create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and clean energy manufacturing jobs, solar factories in the Midwest and the South, wind farms across the plains and off our shores, clean hydrogen projects and more — all across America, every part of America.

This bill is the biggest step forward on climate ever — ever — and it’s going to allow us to boldly take additional steps toward meeting all of my climate goals — the ones we set out when we ran.

It includes ensuring that we create clean energy opportunities in frontline and fence-line communities that have been smothered — smothered by the legacy of pollution, and fight environmental injustice that’s been going on for so long.

And here’s another win for the American people: In addition to cutting the deficit by $350 billion last year, in my first year in office, and cutting it $1.7 trillion this year, this fiscal year, we’re going to cut the deficit — I point out — by another $300 billion with the Inflation Reduction Act over the next decade.

We’re cutting deficit to fight inflation by having the wealthy and big corporations finally begin to pay part of their fair share.

Big corporations will now pay a minimum 15 percent tax instead of 55 of them got away with paying zero dollars in federal income tax on $40 billion in profit. 

And I’m keeping my campaign commitment: No one — let me emphasize — no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes.  (Applause.) 

Folks, the Inflation Reduction Act does so many things that, for so many years, so many of us have fought to make happen.

And let’s be clear: In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote — every single one.

In fact, the big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill.  A hundred million dollars.

And remember: Every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill. 

Every single Republican in Congress voted against lowering prescription drug prices, against lowering healthcare costs, against a fairer tax system.

Every single Republican — every single one — voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs.

My fellow Americans, that’s the choice we face: We can protect the already-powerful or show the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot.

That’s the America I believe in.  (Applause.)  That’s what I believe in. 

And today — and today, we’ve come a step closer to making that America real.

Today, too often we confuse noise with substance.  Too often we confuse setbacks with defeat.  Too often we hand the biggest microphone to the critics and the cynics who delight in declaring failure while those committed to making real progress do the hard work of governing.


Making progress in this country as big and complicated as ours clearly is not easy.  It’s never been easy.

But with unwavering conviction, commitment, and patience, progress does come…

And when it does, like today, people’s lives are made better and the future becomes brighter, and a nation can be transformed.

That’s what’s happening now.  From the American Rescue Plan that helped create nearly 10 million new jobs, to a once-in-a-generation infrastructure law that will rebuild America’s roads, bridges, ports; deliver clean water, high-speed Internet to every American; to the first meaningful gun safety law in 30 years — and if I have anything to do with it, we’re still going to have an assault weapons ban, but that’s another story.  And to get significant veterans’ healthcare law in decades, for the first time; to a groundbreaking CHIPS and Science Law that’s going to ensure that technologies and jobs of the future are made here in America — in America.

(Applause.) 

And all this progress is part of our vision and plan and determined effort to get the job done for the American people, so they can look their child in the eye and say, “Honey, it’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay.”

Everything is going to make sure that democracy delivers for your generation.  Because I think that’s at stake.

And, now, I know there are those here today who hold a dark and despairing view of this country.  I’m not one of them.

I believe in the promise of America.  I believe in the future of this country.  I believe in the very soul of this nation.  And most of all, I believe in you, the American people.

I believe to my core there isn’t a single thing this country cannot do when we put our mind to it.  We just have to remember who we are.  We are the United States of America.

There is nothing nothing beyond our capacity. That’s why so many foreign companies decided to invest their — make chips in America. Billions of dollars.  We’re the best.  We have to believe in ourselves again.

And now I’m going to take action that I’ve been looking forward to doing for 18 months.  (Laughter and applause.)  I’m going to sign the Inflation Reduction Law.  (Applause.)

Okay.  Here you go. (The bill is signed.)

LEADER SCHUMER:  It’s now law.

(Applause.)

The Inflation Reduction Act by the Numbers: What it Means to You

As part of the Inflation Reduction Act’s effort to transition the economy to clean, renewable energy, families that take advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 per year. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden will sign the Inflation Reduction Act today, a distillation of what Americans have been clamoring for, for the past 30 years. It includes the most significant investment in climate action, plus health care and tax reform while also amazingly reducing the deficit. Here’s what the Inflation Reduction Act will mean to you, by the numbers. This is from the White House:

The Inflation Reduction Act will lower costs for families, combat the climate crisis, reduce the deficit, and finally ask the largest corporations to pay their fair share. President Biden and Congressional Democrats have worked together to deliver a historic legislative achievement that defeats special interests, delivers for American families, and grows the economy from the bottom up and middle out.
 
Here’s how the Inflation Reduction Act impacts Americans by the numbers:
 
HEALTH CARE
 
Cutting Prescription Drug Costs

  • Today, Americans pay two to three times what citizens of other countries pay for prescription drugs
  • 5-7 million Medicare beneficiaries could see their prescription drug costs go down because of the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
  • 50 million Americans with Medicare Part D will have the peace of mind knowing their costs at the pharmacy are capped at $2,000 per year, directly benefiting about 1.4 million beneficiaries each year.
  • 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will benefit from a guarantee that their insulin costs are capped at $35 for a month’s supply.

 
Lowering Health Care Costs

  • 13 million Americans will continue to save an average of $800 per year on health insurance premiums
  • 3 million more Americans will have health insurance than without the law.
  • The uninsured rate is at an all-time low of 8%, which the historic law will build on.

 
Defeating Special Interests

  • $187 million: The amount the Pharmaceutical industry has spent on lobbying in 2022.
  • 1,600: number of lobbyists the pharmaceutical companies had in 2021 – three times the number of Members of Congress
  • 33 years: the amount of time Congressional Democrats have been trying to lower prescription drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
  • 19 years: number of years Medicare has been blocked from negotiating prescription drug costs

 
CLEAN ENERGY
 
Lowering Energy Costs

  • Families that take advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 per year.
  • $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
  • 7.5 million more families will be able install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit, saving families $9,000 over the life of the system or at least $300 per year.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year.
  • Putting America on track to meet President Biden’s climate goals, which will save every family an average of $500 per year on their energy costs.

 
Building a Clean Energy Economy

  • Power homes, businesses, and communities with much more clean energy by 2030, including:
    • 950 million solar panels
    • 120,000 wind turbines
    • 2,300 grid-scale battery plants
  • Advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people.
  • Strengthen climate resilience and protect nearly 2 million acres of national forests.
  • Creating millions of good-paying jobs making clean energy in America.

 
Reducing Harmful Pollution

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 gigaton in 2030, or a billion metric tons – 10 times more climate impact than any other single piece of legislation ever enacted.
  • Deploy clean energy and reduce particle pollution from fossil fuels to avoid up to 3,900 premature deaths and up to 100,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030.

 
TAXES
 
Making the Tax Code Fairer

  • $0: how much some of largest, profitable corporations pay in federal income tax.
  • 55: the number of America’s largest, wealthiest corporations that got away without paying a cent in federal income taxes in 2020.
  • $160 billon: how much the top 1 percent of earners is estimated to evade each year in taxes.
  • 15%: the minimum tax on corporate profits the Inflation Reduction Act imposes on the largest, most profitable corporations.
  • $124 billion: savings over 10 years the Inflation Reduction Act will generate from collecting taxes already owed by wealthy people and large corporations, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • And no family making less than $400,000 will see their taxes go up a penny.

 
Reducing the Deficit

  • The Inflation Act will achieve hundreds of billions in deficit reduction.
  • The deficit is projected to fall by more than $1.5 trillion this year after falling by more than $350 billion last year.
  • 126 leading economists – including 7 Nobel Laureates, 2 former Treasury Secretaries, 2 former Fed Vice Chairs and 2 former CEA Chairs – have said reducing the deficit will help fight inflation and support strong, stable economic growth.

Justice Department Sues Idaho to Protect Reproductive Rights

Complaint Alleges Idaho Law Violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act
 

Protesting for reproductive rights © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit to protect the rights of patients to access emergency medical care guaranteed by federal law. The suit challenges Idaho Code § 18-622 (§ 18-622), which is set to go into effect on Aug. 25 and imposes a near-total ban on abortion.

The complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that § 18-622 conflicts with, and is preempted by, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) in situations where an abortion is necessary stabilizing treatment for an emergency medical condition. The United States also seeks an order permanently enjoining the Idaho law to the extent it conflicts with EMTALA.

“On the day Roe and Casey were overturned, we promised that the Justice Department would work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.  “That is what we are doing, and that is what we will continue to do. We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law. And we will closely scrutinize state abortion laws to ensure that they comply with federal law.” 

“Federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Women should not have to be near death to get care. The Department of Health and Human Services will continue its work with the Department of Justice to enforce federal law protecting access to health care, including abortions.”

“One critical focus of the Reproductive Rights Task Force has been assessing the fast-changing landscape of state laws and evaluating potential legal responses to infringements on federal protections,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s lawsuit against the State of Idaho for its near-absolute abortion ban is the first public example of this work in action. We know that these are frightening and uncertain times for pregnant women and their providers, and the Justice Department, through the Task Force’s work, is committed to doing everything we can to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”

EMTALA requires hospitals that receive federal Medicare funds to provide necessary stabilizing treatment to patients who arrive at their emergency departments while experiencing a medical emergency. When a physician reasonably determines that the necessary stabilizing treatment is an abortion, state law cannot prohibit the provision of that care. The statute defines necessary stabilizing treatment to include all treatment needed to ensure that a patient will not have her health placed in serious jeopardy, have her bodily functions seriously impaired, or suffer serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.

As explained in the complaint, once § 18-622 enters into effect in Idaho, a prosecutor can indict, arrest and prosecute a physician merely by showing that an abortion has been performed, without regard to the circumstances. A physician who provides an abortion in Idaho can ultimately avoid criminal liability only by establishing as an affirmative defense that “the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” or that, before performing the abortion, the pregnant patient (or, in some circumstances, their parent or guardian) reported an “act of rape or incest” against the patient to a specified agency and provided a copy of the report to the physician. The law provides no defense for an abortion necessary to protect the health of the pregnant patient. 

Idaho’s criminal prohibition of all abortions, subject only to the statute’s two limited affirmative defenses, directly conflicts with EMTALA and stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment of EMTALA’s federal objectives of providing stabilizing care and treatment to anyone who needs it. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the Justice Department established the Reproductive Rights Task Force, chaired by Associate Attorney General Gupta. The Task Force is charged with protecting access to reproductive freedom under federal law. For additional information on the work of the Task Force visit www.justice.gov/reproductive-rights.

Biden Administration’s DoJ, HHS Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law

Long Islanders react to Supreme Court overturning Roe’s constitutional protections of reproductive freedom. The Biden Administration is setting up a task force within the Justice Department to insure rights are protected, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Justice Department Announces Reproductive Rights Task Force

The Task Force Formalizes the Department’s Ongoing Work to Protect Reproductive Freedom Under Federal Law

The Justice Department announced today the establishment of the Reproductive Rights Task Force. The Task Force formalizes an existing working group and efforts by the Department over the last several months to identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care in anticipation of the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta will chair the Task Force, which will consist of representatives from the Department’s Civil Division, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney community, Office of the Solicitor General, Office for Access to Justice, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of the Associate Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General and Office of the Attorney General and will be supported by dedicated staff.

“As Attorney General Garland has said, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” said Associate Attorney General Gupta. “The Court abandoned 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to abortion, preventing women all over the country from being able to make critical decisions about our bodies, our health, and our futures. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”

The Task Force will monitor and evaluate all state and local legislation and enforcement actions that threaten to:

  • Infringe on federal legal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care;
  • Impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care in states where it is legal;
  • Impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states;
  • Ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy; or
  • Impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide reproductive health services in a manner authorized by federal law.

The Task Force will identify such actions and coordinate appropriate federal government responses, including proactive and defensive legal action where appropriate. The Task Force will work with agencies across the federal government to support their work on issues relating to reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare. 

The Justice Department is working with external stakeholders such as reproductive services providers, advocates and state attorneys general. The Task Force will continue this important effort. It will also work with the Office of Counsel to the President to convene a meeting of private pro bono attorneys, bar associations and public interest organizations in order to encourage lawyers to represent and assist patients, providers and third parties lawfully seeking reproductive health services throughout the country. In order to assist attorneys working to protect access to comprehensive reproductive health services, the Task Force will centralize online legal resources, such as filed Justice Department legal briefs and information about the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Recognizing that the best way to protect reproductive freedom is through congressional action, the Task Force will also coordinate providing technical assistance to Congress in connection with federal legislation to codify reproductive rights and ensure access to comprehensive reproductive services. It will also coordinate the provision of technical assistance concerning Federal constitutional protections to states seeking to afford legal protection to out-of-state patients and providers who offer legal reproductive healthcare.

HHS Issues Guidance to the Nation’s Retail Pharmacies Clarifying Their Obligations to Ensure Access to Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Services
 

Today, following President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring access to reproductive health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, reminding them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws. The guidance makes clear that as recipients of federal financial assistance, including Medicare and Medicaid payments, pharmacies are prohibited under law from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in their programs and activities. This includes supplying prescribed medications; making determinations regarding the suitability of prescribed medications for a patient; and advising a patient about prescribed medications and how to take them.  The action is the latest step in the HHS’ response to protect reproductive health care.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” said Secretary Becerra. “This includes access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.”

Under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (Section 1557), 42 U.S.C. 18116, recipients of federal financial assistance cannot exclude an individual from participation in, denying them the benefits of, or otherwise subjecting them to discrimination based on sex and other bases (i.e., race, color, national origin, age, and disability) in their programs and activities. Under federal civil rights law, pregnancy discrimination includes discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, potential or intended pregnancy, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Read the guidance here: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pharmacies-guidance.pdf.

HHS is committed to ensuring that people can access reproductive health care, free from discrimination. If you believe that your or another person’s civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with HHS at: https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints/index.html.

Below are a list of actions HHS has taken in the days following the Supreme Court’s ruling to ensure access to reproductive health care:

  • Launched the ReproductiveRights.gov public awareness website, which includes a know-your-rights patient fact sheet;
  • Convened a meeting with health insurers, and sent them a letter, calling on the industry to commit to meeting their obligations to provide coverage for contraceptive services at no cost as required by the Affordable Care Act; 
  • Issued guidance to patients and providers that addresses the extent to which federal law and regulations protect individuals’ private medical information when it comes to seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive health care, as well as when it comes to using health information apps on smartphones;
  • Announced nearly $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X family planning providers; 
  • Met with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Maine Governor Janet Mills and state attorneys general to discuss state-specific concerns;
  • Issued guidance on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) reaffirming that it protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations.

Biden Signs EO Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Citing ‘An Out of Control Court’ Calls on Women to Exercise their Voting Power

New Yorkers protest for reproductive freedom. President Joe Biden is taking actions he can to protect access to reproductive health care services in light of the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and multiple states immediately implementing bans on abortion rights, in most cases even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But the President noted that there is only so much he could do by Executive Order or that his administration can do, and exhorted women to take action at the ballot box, elect representatives to local, state and federal office who will protect their personal freedom, liberty and autonomy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden delivered a speech on July 8 on actions he is taking to protect access to reproductive health care services in light of the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and multiple states immediately implementing bans on abortion rights, in most cases even in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But the President noted that there is only so much he could do by Executive Order or that his administration can do, and exhorted women to take action at the ballot box, elect representatives to local, state and federal office who will protect their personal freedom, liberty and autonomy. Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks: — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, with the Vice President, Secretary Becerra, and Deputy Attorney General Monaco, I want to talk about an executive order I’m signing to protect reproductive rights of women in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s terrible, extreme, and, I think, so totally wrongheaded decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
 
[It] both formalized actions I announced right after the decision, as well as adding new measures today.
 
Let’s be clear about something from the very start.  This was not a decision driven by the Constitution.  Let me say it again: This was not a decision driven by the Constitution.  And despite what those justices in the majority said, this was not a decision driven by history.
 
You’ve all probably had a chance to the read the decision and the dissent.
 
The majority rattles off laws from the 19th century to support the idea that Roe was historic- — was a historical anomaly because states outlawed abortion in the 1880s, toward the end.  But that’s just wrong.
 
The truth is today’s Supreme Court majority that is playing fast and loose with the facts.  Even 150 years ago, the common law and many state laws did not criminalize abortion early in pregnancy, which is very similar to the viability line drawn by Roe.
 
But the Dobbs majority ignores that fact.  And the Dobbs majority ignores that many laws were enacted to protect women at the time when they were dying from unsafe abortions.
 
This is the horrific reality that Roe sought to end.  The practice of medicine should not — emphasize — should not be frozen in the 19th century.
 
So, what happened?
 
The dissenting opinion says it as clear as you can possibly say it.  And here’s the quote: “Neither law nor facts nor attitudes have provided any new reason to reach a different result than Roe and Casey did.”  And that’s has changed — excuse me — and “All that has changed is this Court.”  End of quote.  “All that has changed is this Court.”
 
That wasn’t about the Constitution or the law.
 
It was about a deep, long-seething antipathy towards Roe and the broader right to privacy.  As the justices wrote in their dissent, and I quote, “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them.”  End of quote.
 
So, what we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment.  It was an exercise in raw political power.  On the day the Dobbs decision came down, I immediately announced what I would do.
 
But I also made it clear, based on the reasoning of the Court, there is no constitutional right to choose.  Only the way — the only way to fulfill and restore that right for women in this country is by voting, by exercising the power at the ballot box.
 
Let me explain.  We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law.  Your vote can make that a reality.
 
I know it’s frustrating and it made a lot of people very angry.  But the truth is this — and it’s not just me saying it; it’s what the Court said: When you read the decision, the Court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women.  Period.  Period.
 
After having made the decision based on a reading of a document that was frozen in time in the 1860s, when women didn’t even have the right to vote, the Court now — now — practically dares the women of America to go to the ballot box and restore the very rights they’ve just taken away.
 
One of the most extraordinary parts of the decision, in my view, is the majority writes, and I quote, “Women…” — it’s a quote now, from the majority — “Women are not without electoral or political power.  It is noteworthy that the percentage of women who registered to vote and cast a ballot is consistently higher than the percentage of the men who do so.”  End of quote…
 
 
That’s another way of saying that you, the women of America, can determine the outcome of this issue. 
 
I don’t think the Court or, for that matter, the Republicans who for decades have pushed their extreme agenda have a clue about the power of American women.  But they’re about to find out, in my view.
 
It’s my hope and strong belief that women will, in fact, turn out in record numbers to reclaim the rights that have taken from them by the Court.
 
And let me be clear: While I wish it had not come to this, this is the fastest route available.  I’m just stating a basic, fundamental notion.
 
The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign immediately upon its passage at my desk.
 
And we can’t wait.  Extreme Republican governors, extreme Republican state legislatures, and Republican extremists in the Congress overall — all of them have not only fought to take away the right — our rights — but they’re now determined to go as far as they can.  
 
Now the most extreme Republican governors and state legislatures have taken the Court’s decision as a green light to impose some of the harshest and most restrictive laws seen in this country in a long time.  These are the laws that not only put women’s lives at risk, these are the laws that will cost lives. 
 
What we’re witnessing is a giant step backwards in much of our country.  Already, the bans are in effect in 13 states.   Twelve additional states are likely to ban choice in the coming weeks.  And in a number of these states, the laws are so extreme they have raised the threat of criminal penalties for doctors and healthcare providers.  They’re so extreme that many don’t allow for exceptions, even for rape or incest.  Let me say that again: Some of the states don’t allow for exceptions for rape or incest. 
 
This isn’t some imagined horror.  It’s already happening.  Just last week, it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a rape victim in Ohio — 10 years old — and she was forced to have to travel out of the state, to Indiana, to seek to terminate the [pregnancy] and maybe save her life.  That’s — the last part is my judgment.  Ten years old.  Ten years old.  Raped, six weeks pregnant.  Already traumatized.  Was forced to travel to another state.  Imagine being that little girl.  Just — I’m serious — just imagine being that little girl.  Ten years old.
 
Does anyone believe that it’s the highest majority view that that should not be able to be dealt with, or in any other state in the nation?  A 10-year-old girl should be forced to give birth to a rapist’s child?  I can tell you what: I don’t.  I can’t think of anything as much more extreme.
 
The Court’s decision has also been received by Republicans in Congress as a green light to go further and pass a national ban.  A national ban.  Remember what they’re saying.  They’re saying there’s no right to privacy, so therefore it’s not protected by the Constitution, so leave it up to the state and the Congress, what they want to do. 
 
And now my Republican friends are talking about getting the Congress to pass a national ban.  The extreme positions that they’re taking in some of these states.  That will mean the right to choose will be illegal nationwide if, in fact, they succeed.  Let me tell you something: As long as I’m President, it won’t happen, because I’ll veto it.  
 
So the choice is clear.  If you want to change the circumstances for women and even little girls in this country, please go out and vote.  When tens of millions of women vote this year, they won’t be alone.  Millions and millions of men will be taking up the fight alongside them to restore the right to choose and the broader right to privacy in this nation, which they denied existed.  And the challenge from the Court to the American women and men — this is a nation.  The challenge is: Go out and vote.  Well, for God’s sake, there’s an election in November.  Vote, vote, vote, vote.  Consider the challenge accepted, Court. 
 
But in the meantime, I’m signing this important executive order.  I’m asking the Justice Department that, much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do something — do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their right: 
 
In states where clinics are still open, to protect them from intimidation. 
 
To protect the right of women to travel from a state that prohibits seeking the medical attention that she needs to a state to provide that care. 
 
To protect a woman’s right to the FDA-approved — Federal Drug Administration-approved medication that’s been available for over 20 years. 
 
The executive order provides safeguards to access care.  A patient comes into the emergency room in any state in the union.  She’s expressing and experiencing a life-threatening miscarriage, but the doctor is going to be so concerned about being criminalized for treating her, they delay treatment to call the hospital lawyer who is concerned the hospital will be penalized if a doctor provides the lifesaving care.  It’s outrageous.  I don’t care what your position is.  It’s outrageous, and it’s dangerous. 
 
That’s why this executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services — HHS — to ensure all patients, including pregnant women and girls experience pregnant — experiencing pregnancy loss get emergency care they need under federal law, and that doctors have clear guidance on their own responsibilities and protections no matter what the state — no matter what state they’re in.  
 
The executive order protects access to contraception — that I’m about to sign. 

 
Justice Thomas himself said that under the reasoning of this decision — this is what Justice Thomas said in his concurring opinion — that the Court “should reconsider the constitutional right to contraception — to use contraception even among married couples. 
 
What century are they in?  There used to be a case called –[Griswold v. Connecticut], which was declared unconstitutional in the late ‘60s.  It said a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom could not decide to use contraception.

Right now, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Affordable Care Act guarantees insurance coverage for women’s health services, including — including free birth control.  The executive order directs HHS to identify ways to expand access to reproductive health services, like IUDs, birth control pills, emergency contraception. 
 
And equally important, this executive order protects patient privacy and access to information,
which looking at the press assembled before me, probably know more about it than I do.  I’m not a tech guy.  I’m learning.

But right now, when you use a search engine or the app on your phone, companies collect your data, they sell it to other companies, and they even share it with law enforcement.  There’s an increasing concern that extremist governors and others will try to get that data off of your phone, which is out there in the ether, to find what you’re seeking, where you’re going, and what you’re doing with regard to your healthcare. 

Talk about no privacy — no privacy in the Constitution.  There’s no privacy, period.

This executive order asks the FTC to crack down on data brokers that sell private information to extreme groups or, in my view, sell private information to anybody.
 
It provides private health information — it protects private health information in states with extreme laws.  

And the executive order strengthens coordination at a federal level.  It establishes a task force, led by the White House Department — and the Department of Human Services, focused specifically on using every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive healthcare.

You know, let me close with this: The Court and its allies are committed to moving America backward with fewer rights, less autonomy, and politicians invading the most personal of decisions.  Remember the reasoning of this decision has an impact much beyond Roe and the right to privacy generally. 

Marriage equality, contraception, and so much more is at risk.  This decision affects everyone — unrelated to choice — beyond choice.  We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with the extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy. 

The choice we face as a nation is between the mainstream and the extreme, between moving forward and moving backwards, between allowing politicians to enter the most personal parts of our lives and protecting the right to privacy — yes, yes — embedded in our Constitution.  
 
This is a choice.  This is a moment — the moment — the moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us and the moment to protect our nation from an extremist agenda that is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans. 
 
Now, I’m going to sign this executive order. 

The executive order is “Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services.”

(The executive order is signed.)

FACT SHEET:
President Biden Signs Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services

New Yorkers protest to protect womens reproductive rights. President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion. Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services, but stressed the importance and power of voters to secure their rights through the legislators they elect. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Immediately following the extremist majority Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden declared he would use whatever levers were available to him as President, but much was up to Congress and, because of the decision, state legislatures. “My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers,” President Biden said. “But Congress must act.  And with your vote, you can act.  You can have the final word.  This is not over.” Today, President Biden is signing an Executive Order protecting access to reproductive health care services. Here is a fact sheet from the White House:

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued a decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated a woman’s Constitutional right to choose.  This decision expressly took away a right from the American people that it had recognized for nearly 50 years – a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions, free from government interference.  Fundamental rights – to privacy, autonomy, freedom, and equality – have been denied to millions of women across the country, with grave implications for their health, lives, and wellbeing. This ruling will disproportionately affect women of color, low-income women, and rural women.
 
President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.
 
Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services. This Executive Order builds on the actions his Administration has already taken to defend reproductive rights by:

  • Safeguarding access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception;
     
  • Protecting the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information;
     
  • Promoting the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics; and
     
  • Coordinating the implementation of Federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to health care.

 
SAFEGUARDING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE SERVICES
 
The President has directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take the following actions and submit a report to him within 30 days on efforts to:

  • Protect Access to Medication Abortion.  HHS will take additional action to protect and expand access to abortion care, including access to medication that the FDA approved as safe and effective over twenty years ago. These actions will build on the steps the Secretary of HHS has already taken at the President’s direction following the decision to ensure that medication abortion is as widely accessible as possible.
     
  • Ensure Emergency Medical Care.  HHS will take steps to ensure all patients – including pregnant women and those experiencing pregnancy loss – have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law, including by considering updates to current guidance that clarify physician responsibilities and protections under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). 
     
  • Protect Access to Contraception.  HHS will take additional actions to expand access to the full range of reproductive health services, including family planning services and providers, such as access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs).  In all fifty states and the District of Columbia, the Affordable Care Act guarantees coverage of women’s preventive services, including free birth control and contraceptive counseling, for individuals and covered dependents. The Secretary of HHS has already directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take every legally available step to ensure patient access to family planning care and to protect family planning providers.
     
  • Launch Outreach and Public Education Efforts.  HHS will increase outreach and public education efforts regarding access to reproductive health care services—including abortion—to ensure that Americans have access to reliable and accurate information about their rights and access to care.
     
  • Convene Volunteer Lawyers.  The Attorney General and the White House Counsel will convene private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations to encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.  Such representation could include protecting the right to travel out of state to seek medical care. Immediately following the Supreme Court decision, the President announced his Administration’s position that Americans must remain free to travel safely to another state to seek the care they need, as the Attorney General made clear in his statement, and his commitment to fighting any attack by a state or local official who attempts to interfere with women exercising this right.

PROTECTING PATIENT PRIVACY AND ACCESS TO ACCURATE INFORMATION
 
The President’s Executive Order takes additional steps to protect patient privacy, including by addressing the transfer and sales of sensitive health-related data, combatting digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services, and protecting people seeking reproductive health care from inaccurate information, fraudulent schemes, or deceptive practices.  The Executive Order will:

  • Protect Consumers from Privacy Violations and Fraudulent and Deceptive Practices.  The President has asked the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission to consider taking steps to protect consumers’ privacy when seeking information about and provision of reproductive health care services.  The President also has directed the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Attorney General and Chair of the FTC, to consider options to address deceptive or fraudulent practices, including online, and protect access to accurate information.
  • Protect Sensitive Health Information.  HHS will consider additional actions, including under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to better protect sensitive information related to reproductive health care. The Secretary of HHS has already directed the HHS Office for Civil Rights to take initial steps to ensure patient privacy and nondiscrimination of patients, as well as providers who provide reproductive health care, including by:
     
    • Issuing new guidance to address how the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of individuals’ protected health information, including information related to reproductive health care. The guidance helps ensure doctors and other medical providers and health plans know that, with limited exceptions, they are not required – and in many cases, are not permitted – to disclose patients’ private information, including to law enforcement. 
       
    • Issuing a how-to guide for consumers on steps they can take to make sure they’re protecting their personal data on mobile apps.

PROMOTING SAFETY AND SECURITY
 
The Executive Order addresses the heightened risk related to seeking and providing reproductive health care and will:

  • Protect Patients, Providers, and Clinics.  The Administration will ensure the safety of patients, providers, and third parties, and to protect the security of other entities that are providing, dispensing, or delivering reproductive health care services.  This charge includes efforts to protect mobile clinics, which have been deployed to borders to offer care for out-of-state patients. 

COORDINATING IMPLEMENTATION EFFORTS
 
To ensure the Federal government takes a swift and coordinated approach to addressing reproductive rights and protecting access to reproductive health care, the President’s Executive Order will:

  • Establish an Interagency Task Force.  The President has directed HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council to establish and lead an interagency Task Force on Reproductive Health Care Access, responsible for coordinating Federal interagency policymaking and program development.  This Task Force will also include the Attorney General.  In addition, the Attorney General will provide technical assistance to states affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care. 

EXECUTIVE ORDER BUILDS ON ADMINISTRATION’S ACTIONS TO PROTECT ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE
 
In addition to the actions announced today, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken the following steps to protect access to reproductive health care and defend reproductive rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs.  On the day of the decision, the President strongly denounced the decision as an affront to women’s fundamental rights and the right to choose In addition to action mentioned above, the Biden-Harris Administration is:

  • Supporting Providers and Clinics.  The Secretary of HHS directed all HHS agencies to ensure that all HHS-funded providers and clinics have appropriate training and resources to handle family planning needs, and announced nearly $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X family planning providers.
     
  • Promoting Access to Accurate Information.  On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision, HHS launched ReproductiveRights.gov, which provides timely and accurate information about reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care.  This includes know-your-rights information for patients and providers and promoting awareness of and access to family planning services, as well as guidance for how to file a patient privacy or nondiscrimination complaint with its Office for Civil Rights. 
     
  • Providing Leave for Federal Workers Traveling for Medical Care.  The Office of Personnel Management issued guidance affirming that paid sick leave can be taken to cover absences for travel to obtain reproductive health care.
     
  • Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services for Service members, DoD Civilians, and Military Families.  The Department of Defense (DoD) issued a memo to the Force, DoD civilians and military families on ensuring access to essential women’s health care services. The memo reiterates that the Department will continue to provide seamless access to reproductive healthcare for military and civilian patients, as permitted by federal law.  Military providers will continue to fulfill their duty to care for Service members, military dependents and civilian personnel who require pregnancy termination in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

For up-to-date information on your right to access reproductive health care, visit www.reproductiverights.gov

FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Maternal Health Blueprint Delivers for Women, Mothers, and Families

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to cutting the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, reducing the disparities in maternal health outcomes, and improving the overall experience during and after pregnancy for people across the country. This commitment will require bold, unprecedented action through a whole-of-government strategy. in addition to urging Congressional action, the White House has mobilized over a dozen federal agencies to develop the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis.

On June 24, the White House released the Biden-Harris Administration’s Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis, a whole-of-government approach to combatting maternal mortality and morbidity. Here is a fact sheet from the White House;

For far too many mothers, complications related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum can lead to devastating health outcomes — including hundreds of deaths each year.  This maternal health crisis is particularly devastating for Black women, Native women, and women in rural communities who all experience maternal mortality and morbidity at significantly higher rates than their white and urban counterparts. 

Under President Biden and Vice President Harris’s leadership, this Administration is now taking the next step towards a future where the United States will be the best country in the world to have a baby. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to cutting the rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, reducing the disparities in maternal health outcomes, and improving the overall experience during and after pregnancy for people across the country. This commitment will require bold, unprecedented action through a whole-of-government strategy. 

To start, the Administration is calling on Congress to improve and expand coverage by closing the Medicaid coverage gap and requiring continuous Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum, as well as making the significant investments included in the President’s FY23 budget to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.

The Administration also recognizes that addressing the maternal health crisis in the United States requires immediate action. That is why, in addition to urging Congressional action, the White House has mobilized over a dozen federal agencies to develop the White House Blueprint for Addressing the Maternal Health Crisis. The Blueprint outlines five priorities to improve maternal health and outcomes in the United States:

•    Increasing access to and coverage of comprehensive high-quality maternal health services, including behavioral health services.
•    Ensuring women giving birth are heard and are decisionmakers in accountable systems of care.
•    Advancing data collection, standardization, harmonization, transparency, and research
•    Expanding and diversifying the perinatal workforce.
•    Strengthening economic and social supports for people before, during, and after pregnancy.

For women who are pregnant, postpartum, or hoping to become pregnant, the actions in the Blueprint mean:

•    Extended Postpartum Coverage: States are encouraged to extend Medicaid coverage from two months to one year postpartum, so that women do not lose or have changes in their coverage during or soon after pregnancy.
•    Investments in Rural Maternal Care: Rural health care facilities will have more staff and capabilities to provide maternal care through increased funding from the expanding the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program and more robust training for rural health care providers. 
•    A Maternal Mental Health Hotline: Providers will be trained on mental health during pregnancy, and women will have access to a national, confidential, 24-hour, toll-free hotline if they are experiencing mental health challenges.
•    Substance Use Services: Federal agencies will partner with community-based organizations to ensure that addiction services and people trained in substance use disorder during pregnancy are more available.
•    No More Surprise Bills: Through the No Surprises Act, women are now protected from certain unexpected medical bills, which may occur during pregnancy, postpartum care, and/or delivery.
•    Better Trained Providers: More providers will be trained on implicit biases as well as culturally and linguistically appropriate care, so that more women are listened to, respected, and empowered as a decisionmaker in their own care.
•    Improved Maternal Health Data: Through enhanced federal partnerships with state and local maternal health data collection entities, communities, hospitals, and researchers will have access to better data to they can analyze poor outcomes during pregnancy and make improvements to support healthy pregnancies.
•    A More Diverse Maternal Care Workforce: Federal agencies will invest more in hiring, training, and deploying more physicians, certified nurse midwives, doulas, and community health workers to support women during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. The federal government will work to ensure these providers come from diverse communities and backgrounds. 
•    Better Access to Doulas and Midwives: The Administration will work with states to expand access to doulas and midwives, and encourage insurance companies to cover their services.
•    Expanded Social Services: Stronger partnerships between the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services will help make it easier to enroll in federal programs for housing, food, childcare, and income assistance, as we know health care is only one part of what makes for a healthy pregnancy.
•    Stronger Workplace Protections for Mothers: Federal agencies will promote greater awareness of workplace protections and accommodations for new parents, like access to a private lactation room and break time to pump.

The actions outlined in the Blueprint are just the latest in this Administration’s multi-year effort to combat maternal mortality and morbidity. Since taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken significant steps to address the maternal health crisis in the United States, including: 

•    Extending Postpartum Medicaid Coverage. Through the American Rescue Plan, states now have an easier pathway to extend Medicaid coverage from two to twelve months postpartum. Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia have availed themselves of this opportunity, extending coverage for more than 250,000 women. 
•    Announcing the New “Birthing Friendly” Hospitals Initiative. During the December Call to Action, the Vice President announced that, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Administration will be deploying a “Birthing Friendly” hospitals designation—the first federal hospital quality designation with a focus on maternal health. 
•    Hosting the First-Ever Meeting of Cabinet Officials on Maternal Health. In April of this year, Vice President Harris hosted the first-ever meeting of Cabinet officials to discuss maternal health.  This meeting brought together twelve agency leaders including leaders from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development to discuss ways that this Administration could deploy the resources of the federal government to tackle maternal mortality and morbidity. 
•    Leading the White House’s First-Ever Maternal Health Day of Action. In December 2021, the Vice President issued a nationwide Call to Action for federal agencies, businesses, and non-profits to collaboratively solve the maternal health crisis. During that event, the Vice President announced that this Administration had secured millions of dollars in private sector commitments aimed at improving maternal health. 

As we continue taking bold action to confront the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis, we will continue to listen to people who are pregnant and new mothers and ensure their feedback informs our approach to improve maternal health and strengthen our health care system. With the support of all parts of government and society, we can make this vision a reality. 

FACT SHEET:
Biden Administration Announces Operational Plan for COVID-19 Vaccinations for Children Under 5

As part of its operational plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to children as young as six-months old, The Administration is making vaccinations for children available at thousands of local pharmacies nationwide through the federal pharmacy program. Participating pharmacies will offer vaccinations for this age group in a more limited set of locations, in many cases at clinics staffed by health care providers with primary care experience. And pharmacies will offer convenient hours and advanced scheduling to best meet the needs of parents and communities. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Driven by President Biden’s comprehensive COVID-19 strategy, including a historic vaccination program that has gotten 220 million Americans fully vaccinated, over 100 million people a booster shot, and made vaccines free, widely available and convenient—daily COVID-19 deaths are down 90 percent since he took office.
 
COVID-19 vaccines remain the single-most important tool that we have to protect people against COVID-19 and its most serious outcomes. Next week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will consider whether to authorize and recommend the first COVID-19 vaccines for kids under the age of 5. If FDA authorizes and CDC recommends one or both of the COVID-19 vaccines for this age group, it would be a historic milestone in the nation’s fight against the virus—and would mean nearly every American is eligible for the protection that vaccination provides.
 
The Biden Administration announced an operational plan that will ensure that vaccines—now authorized by FDA and recommended by CDC—are readily available for our youngest kids and that we continue the critical work of ensuring that all families know the benefits of getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19.
 
The Administration’s vaccination program for America’s youngest children will focus on addressing the specific needs of this age group and their families—recognizing that many parents and guardians will choose to get their kids vaccinated through their pediatrician or primary care doctor. As always, state and local governments, health care providers, federal pharmacy partners, national and community-based organizations, and other entities will be critical to the success of this historic, nationwide effort. And, the Administration will continue to work with trusted messengers, including pediatricians, to make a concerted effort to ensure that all families have answers to their questions and know about the importance of getting their children vaccinated.
 
As the FDA and CDC conduct their independent review processes, the Biden Administration is planning for all scenarios, including for the first vaccinations to start as early as the week of June 20th—with the program ramping up over time as more doses are delivered and more appointments become available.
 
For months, the Administration has been working with a range of stakeholders to get ready. The Administration has made 10 million vaccine doses available for states, Tribes, territories, community health centers, federal pharmacy partners, and others to pre-order. If the FDA authorizes a vaccine, the Administration will immediately begin shipping doses across the country—and will launch an effort to ensure that parents can get their youngest children vaccinated easily. 85 percent of children under the age of five live within five miles of a potential vaccination site.
 
The Biden Administration’s plan includes:
 
Securing vaccine supply for our nation’s children. The Administration has procured a significant supply of vaccines for this age group, with 10 million doses available initially and millions more available in the coming weeks. To ensure that we are able to reach a broad range of pediatric providers—including those in smaller practices and in rural settings—vaccines will be available in package sizes of 100 doses and will come with all of the supplies that health care providers need to serve younger kids, including small needles.
 
Making vaccinations available in convenient places parents and families know and trust. Working with states, localities, Tribes and territories, the Administration will make vaccinations for our nation’s youngest children widely available at thousands of trusted, accessible sites across the country—with 85 percent of children under the age of five living within five miles of a potential vaccination site. Vaccinations will be available at pediatricians’ and other doctors’ offices, community health centers, rural health clinics, children’s hospitals, public health clinics, local pharmacies, and other community-based organizations. The Administration will also work with state and local public health departments and others to ensure that every child—including those who may not have a pediatrician or primary care provider—has access to the vaccine. And, the Administration will work with states and other entities to make vaccinations available at convenient hours for children, parents and their guardians—including after school and evenings, and on weekends.

  • Pediatricians and primary care providers: The Administration will make vaccinations available at thousands of pediatric and primary care sites across the country. Pediatricians continue to be one of the most trusted sources of information about COVID-19 for parents and will play a critical role in the nationwide effort to get our youngest children vaccinated—as they are the most common, trusted location for routine childhood vaccines. More than three in four children under the age of five receive their flu vaccine in a doctor’s office. Well-patient visits are also an opportunity for pediatric providers to conduct recommended screenings and provide counseling. The Administration is working hand-in-hand with states, localities, Tribes, and territories to prioritize these providers and ensure that they have the supply, resources, and support they need. The Administration will also continue to make vaccines available directly to health centers and rural health clinics, who together serve more than 2.2 million children under five nationwide.
     
  • Children’s hospitals and health systems: The Administration will make vaccinations available at more than 100 children’s hospitals and health systems nationwide. Children’s hospitals play an essential role in our efforts to ensure access for our nation’s highest-risk kids, including those with obesity, diabetes, asthma or immunosuppression.  Through the Administration’s partnership with the Children’s Hospital Association, more than 120 children’s hospitals across 47 states and D.C. will provide pediatric vaccinations across their health care systems and in trusted community sites.
     
  • State and local public health clinics and sites: The Administration will build on its longstanding work with state and local health departments across the country to ensure that we are reaching those hardest-to-reach, including families who may not have regular access to a pediatrician, through public health clinics. The Administration will make available federal funding to support states as they stand up and operate these clinics, and will work hand-in-hand with states to maximize vaccination coverage and availability, particularly in the hardest-hit, highest-risk communities.
     
  • Local pharmacies: The Administration will make vaccinations for children available at thousands of local pharmacies nationwide through the federal pharmacy program. Participating pharmacies will offer vaccinations for this age group in a more limited set of locations, in many cases at clinics staffed by health care providers with primary care experience. And pharmacies will offer convenient hours and advanced scheduling to best meet the needs of parents and communities.

 
Leveraging federal programs to reach parents and families with information and advance equity. As with prior vaccination efforts, the Administration will leverage existing federal programs and capabilities to ensure that we are reaching parents and families with the information they need. And, as always, the Administration will remain laser-focused on equity and making sure that we reach those hardest-hit and most at-risk communities.

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program: In addition to other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, the Administration will engage families through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which serves over 6 million people, including almost half of all infants born in the United States. A longstanding partner to immunization programs, WIC settings across the country will be provided with tailored resources for talking to families about the COVID-19 vaccine and will continue providing families with referrals to vaccination providers, including those co-located with WIC settings.
     
  • Head Start Program: Through the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Administration will work with Head Start grantees to get critical vaccination information to the approximately 1 million families they serve. Head Start has always played a crucial role in improving health outcomes for families, and COVID-19 is no different. The Administration will support training and resources for grantees to learn about vaccines for kids under five and how grantees can talk to families about them, and it will ensure that any Head Start location is ready and able to provide vaccinations to its community gets the help it needs.
     
  • Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program: The Administration will engage families through HHS’ Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, which each year reaches more than 140,000 parents and young children across the country that are at risk for poor maternal and child health outcomes. MIECHV home visitors will leverage these established relationships to help families learn more about COVID-19 and the safety, efficacy, and benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and, upon request, will refer families to local vaccination sites.
     
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs: The Administration will launch an effort to reach more than 800,000 children age five and under supported by HUD programs, including children in households that receive housing-choice vouchers and children living in public housing and Section 8 housing. Building on successful campaigns with children in other age groups, these efforts will include education events and on-site vaccination clinics near HUD-supported housing where appropriate, in coordination with other vaccination locations in the community.
     
  • Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): The Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) will take steps to support and push the message about the importance of vaccinating the millions of children under 5 who are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. This outreach will involve engaging states, local jurisdictions, and stakeholders to get the latest information on vaccines for this age group to Medicaid beneficiaries and their families. This effort builds on the work that CMS has already done to require state Medicaid programs to pay health care providers for providing counseling visits to parents and guardians about the importance of kids’ vaccination—giving families the support they need to engage with trusted community providers.

 Supporting education and engagement efforts to build trust among parents and families. While many parents are eager to vaccinate their youngest children, others have questions. To ensure that parents and families have answers to their questions and information from sources that they trust, HHS will work with a broad range of national organizations to launch a national public education campaign that reaches parents, guardians, and families with facts and information that they need to make informed choices for both their youngest and their older children.

  • The HHS COVID-19 Community Corps will reach parents and families about vaccinations for kids under the age of five. Launched last April to empower people and organizations to build vaccine confidence in their communities, the Community Corps now has over 17,000 members, including health care, faith, rural, sports, and youth organizations. The ‘HHS We Can Do This’ campaign will provide a pediatric COVID-19 vaccination toolkit—in both English and Spanish—to trusted messengers, health care providers, and state and local organizations so they can reach people where they are in-person and online. HHS will also provide additional materials for stakeholders, including a superhero-themed toolkit with creative resources for hospitals and pediatricians. And, pending FDA authorization and CDC recommendation, the Administration also plans to release a new public service announcement (PSA) letting parents of children 6 months and older know that the new COVID-19 vaccines are available and offer one more way to keep their children safe. The PSA, filmed in both English and Spanish, will be distributed broadly to local television and radio networks, and would air in early July.
     
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), two leading medical, will provide a “Speaker’s Bureau” of pediatricians and family doctors who will lend their trusted voices to raise awareness, answer common questions among parents, and encourage vaccine confidence through community events, vaccine and health fairs, and other key opportunities to reach parents. AAP and AAFP will also work with HHS to co-brand a toolkit of resources geared toward pediatricians and primary care doctors, providing these and other health care providers the information and materials they need to support vaccine confidence among their patients and parents.
     
  • Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), a champion for children’s museums with more than 460 members in 50 states and 19 countries, will work with local member museums to: host vaccine pop-up clinics; provide in-person and virtual events including information sessions, community forums, and other events featuring museum leaders and medical experts to answer parent questions; display a museum exhibit providing educational information about vaccination in English and Spanish; and amplify digital and social content to reach families.
     
  • The National Diaper Bank Network, a nationwide organization with more than 200 member diaper bank programs that distributed over 68 million diapers last year, will distribute educational material to parents and caregivers through member diaper banks, packing fact sheets, postcards, and other materials in diaper boxes, sharing resources with local agency partners, and hosting virtual and in-person events with pediatricians and other trusted messengers.
     
  • The American Library Association (ALA) will provide resources to assist the nation’s 17,000 public libraries in providing trusted vaccine information to parents and guardians. ALA will conduct a national webinar for librarians and staff featuring a pediatrician from AAP and other trusted messengers to provide information to public librarians and staff on how they can support vaccine education and outreach, share resources through children’s programming, and host in-person events and vaccine pop-up clinics to promote vaccines in their communities. Public libraries have played an important role in the pandemic by equipping their communities with trusted information, supplies like masks and COVID-19 tests, and hosting pop-up vaccine clinics.
     
  • The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has been hosting dozens of vaccine pop-up clinics to reach parents, teachers, and school staff. The National PTA will continue to engage parents of school-aged children, as well as parents of younger children, by hosting a national symposium for local PTA leaders and affiliates featuring a pediatrician from AAP and other trusted messengers; hosting vaccine pop-up clinics in key geographic markets to reach parents of both school-aged and younger children; and hosting virtual events to reach parents and empower community leaders to act as trusted messengers and amplify vaccine information. 
     
  • The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), the leading association for community health centers, will provide culturally appropriate and evidence-based training to empower community health centers to act as trusted messengers with parents of school-aged and younger children and other patients in their communities. NACHC will also host virtual events, including webinars, trainings, and podcasts to aid in the dissemination of campaign materials and messaging about the importance of vaccinations for young children, and how community health workers can play a key role in reaching parents with trusted messaging.
     
  • Latino community-focused organizations, including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the largest and oldest Hispanic serving organization in the US with over 1,000 LULAC Councils, will hold in-person and virtual educational events for parents and caregivers and will design and distribute bilingual, culturally relevant resources (printed and digital) to community members and partner organizations.
     
  • Black community-focused organizations, including the W. Montague Cobb Health Institute, a consortium of scholars working toward the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities within the National Medical Association, will host “Stay Well Health Fairs and Vaccine Clinics,” an ongoing series of health fairs offering free vaccines, educational materials, health screenings, and pediatric roundtables featuring subject matter experts. The Women’s Missionary Society Foundation, with 800,000 members across the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church’s boundaries, will host “family fun day” vaccine events reaching Black families and will collaborate with AME Church daycares and pre-schools to share information and messaging about pediatric vaccines.
     
  • Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community-focused organizations, including the Asian Community Development Council, The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center, Chinese Community Center, Filipino Family Health Initiative, and Thai Community Development Center will: engage with local communities in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and other languages where possible through in-person engagement, phone banking, social media and written resources; reach families through WIC Market Match, which serves parents with small children who are on WIC; and host weekly vaccine clinics and vaccine education classes and events.
     
  • Native American community organizations, including Native Roots Radio, a leading radio station for Native Americans to discuss local, regional, and national Native American news and events will conduct virtual conversations including physicians, community advocates, and Tribal leadership speaking on the COVID-19 pandemic including vaccinations for children, boosters, mental health and long COVID; and the USDA Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations in partnership with the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board will distribute educational materials to food distribution centers to be packaged in food boxes promoting vaccinations that are regionally and culturally tailored to Native American audiences.

What to Expect, a platform of over 20 million moms, will author a blog series featuring doctors and other trusted experts answering questions about pediatric COVID-19 vaccines, and how moms, expecting moms, and all parents can get the information they need to get themselves and their children vaccinated; author new articles dispelling myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and children; and create and amplify new What to Expect social media content, reaching moms where they are and fighting vaccine misinformation across all platforms.

Biden Administration Warns Congress of Severe Consequences of Failing to Authorize Additional COVID-19 Response Funding

Among the consequences if Congress does not provide additional COVID response funding is fewer vaccinations for Americans should there be a fall surge. Biden’s war-level mobilization to combat COVID has saved 2.2 million lives (more than 900,000 have already died), prevented 17 million hospitalizations and 66 million COVID-19 cases, and avoided $900 billion in health care costs. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Biden Administration is sounding the alarm for the urgent need for Congress to provide funding for the nation’s COVID-19 response and is underscoring the severe consequences of their inaction: Fewer vaccines, treatments, and tests for the American people, and fewer shots in arms around the world.

The White House laid out the consequences in a fact sheet:
 
Over the past 15 months, the Biden Administration has used the resources Congress provided to mobilize a comprehensive COVID-19 response. As a result, the United States has made tremendous progress in our fight against the virus—saving over 2 million American lives, safely reopening our schools, creating jobs at a record pace, returning to more normal routines, and averting $900 billion in health care costs.

The Biden Administration launched COVID.gov, a one-stop shop website to help all people in the United States gain even better access to lifesaving tools like vaccines, tests, treatments, and masks, as well as get the latest updates on COVID-19 in their area. The Administration has worked over the past 15 months to set up over 90,000 vaccination sites, make more than 400 million high-quality masks available for free, send free tests to peoples’ homes, and stand up new test-to-treat sites where people can get tested and receive life-saving antivirals all in one place. Now, with a click of a button, people will be able to find where to access all of these tools, as well as receive the latest CDC data on the level of COVID-19 in their community.

As part of COVID.gov, a new Test-to-Treat locator will help people access pharmacies and community health centers across the nation where people can get tested for COVID-19 and receive appropriate treatments if they need them.

President Biden also implemented a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue the first-ever interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. The effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services, supports, and interventions for individuals experiencing Long COVID and associated conditions.
 
In March, the President laid out a comprehensive National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to keep America moving forward safely, by ensuring that lifesaving tools like vaccines and treatments remain free and widely available to Americans, by preparing for potential surges and new variants, and by getting more shots in arms around the world. Executing this plan remains essential to sustaining the progress we have made and saving more lives. There has been an uptick in cases in parts of the country and, while cases will continue to fluctuate, this virus has proven itself to be unpredictable. Without funding, the United States will be unprepared for whatever comes next.
 
COVID-19 isn’t waiting on Congress to negotiate. Other countries will not wait. Time is of the essence. Congress must act urgently to help save more American lives and ensure we remain prepared.

Congressional inaction on additional COVID-19 response funding means:
 
Fewer Vaccines for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot secure enough booster shots for every American, if they are needed in the fall. At this moment, the United States has enough supply to support one booster shot for Americans age 16 and over, and additional boosters for immunocompromised individuals and those age 50 and older. However, if additional booster shots are authorized and recommended for the general population, we will not have the supply necessary to provide free and easy access to them for all Americans. At this time last year, the Administration was contracting for future boosters that could ultimately be needed starting in September; this allowed us to make those booster shots free and widely available as soon as they were authorized. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) needs to begin contracting for boosters imminently so that the agency can conclude contractual negotiations as soon as May to ensure delivery of sufficient supply by September. Other countries are already placing orders for future needs and as a result, will get supply before it is available for Americans. Just yesterday, Pfizer submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization for its booster for kids ages 5 to 11. If these boosters are authorized and recommended, we would not have enough supply for every child in that age group. Not having enough supply to support booster shots for everyone, if needed, puts American lives at risk, and is a completely avoidable outcome.
     
  • The Administration cannot secure new COVID-19 vaccines to protect against multiple variants for the American people. Vaccine manufacturers are working on developing vaccines that could offer broader and longer-lasting protection than our existing vaccines—and there is ongoing discussion among scientific and medical experts, including FDA’s panel of outside experts, about the potential need for vaccines with new formulations in the future to better protect us from variants. Just this month, Moderna released data on a new vaccine that could potentially offer better protection against multiple variants. The company also announced that it expects to release data on an Omicron-specific vaccine soon. This means that there could be more effective vaccines available as soon as this fall that can enhance the protection Americans receive from getting vaccinated. The United States should be securing these vaccines today, but without funding, the Administration cannot purchase doses for the American people or even ensure that America is in line for them. This could mean people in other countries have access to the best lifesaving vaccines before Americans. Vaccines have proven to be our single-most important tool in protecting people, and the best ones should be available for the American people.

Fewer Treatments for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot restock the nation’s supply of lifesaving treatments. To date, the Administration has distributed over 9.6 million courses of treatment across the country, working with states and territories, Tribes, pharmacies, federal health centers, and other partners to provide them to Americans for free. Due to a lack of funding, we have already missed the opportunity to purchase additional supply of these lifesaving treatments. To stretch our supply as much as possible, last month, the Administration was forced to cut the number of monoclonal antibody treatments distributed to states by over 30 percent. Ensuring these treatments remain free, widely available, and easy to access for people who need them is crucial to our nation moving forward safely.
     
  • The Administration cannot invest in promising treatments or secure newer, even better treatments for the American people. The federal government will not be able to invest in next-generation treatments that have the potential to provide broader protection against future variants or to treat people who may not be able to take full advantage of current treatments. Several candidates may be promising, and the United States will lose an opportunity to secure its spot in line and to support ramped-up manufacturing capacity of these treatments if we do not have funding to secure supply prior to a potential authorization or approval. Given COVID-19’s potential to mutate, it is also prudent to support and secure a range of effective treatments that attack the virus in different ways to guard against future variants.
     
  • The Administration will have to scale back purchases of treatments that protect immunocompromised Americans. The Administration has secured more than 1 million courses of Evusheld, a preventive therapy for immunocompromised people. Due to lack of funding, we have had to substantially scale back our plans to purchase additional supply. This therapy takes months to produce, and at this point, we are at risk of missing out on supply that will be delivered in the last few months of 2022. Congressional inaction will put immunocompromised individuals at greater risk as we enter this fall.

Fewer Tests for Americans:

  • The Administration cannot sustain domestic testing manufacturing capacity and will be unprepared for another surge in testing demand. Omicron drove unprecedented demand for COVID-19 testing around the world. As cases have fallen dramatically, so has demand for testing. Demand will continue to decrease over time, and as a result, domestic manufacturers will start ramping down production across the next several weeks and months. Federal investments are a crucial way to preserve the domestic testing manufacturing capacity we have built over the last 15 months. Without these investments, it will take manufacturers months to ramp back up to rebuild capacity, so failure to invest now will leave us with insufficient testing capacity and supply if we see another surge in cases and demand for testing increases once again. This would mean empty store shelves, long lines at testing sites, and slower results which will have life-or-death consequences for people who need to take lifesaving treatments within days of becoming symptomatic. That should not be allowed to happen.

Fewer Shots in Arms Around the World:

  • The United States cannot supercharge our effort to get more shots in arms, putting us at greater risk for more variants that may prove to be even more dangerous than the ones we have faced to date. The U.S. has now delivered over half a billion adult vaccines to 114 countries. Countries need funding and assistance to turn vaccines into vaccinations. Without additional funding for our global response, we will not have resources to help get more shots in arms in countries in need—which is one of the best ways we can prevent future variants. We will also lack funding to provide oxygen and other lifesaving supplies, and our global genomic sequencing capabilities will fall off—undermining our ability to detect any emerging variants around the world.

“The reason we’ve been so successful in the past is because I was able to work with drug manufacturers, but without funding, we cannot pre-order,” President Biden stated. “We’re running out of supplies for therapeutics – antiviral pills – we desperately need. … We’ve donated more vaccinations to the world than all nations combined…. Without additional funding, we won’t be able to continue to supply. … No delays, no excuses, just action now.”