Overnight Healthcare

Health Care — COVID funding request hits pushback from GOP senator

Hold up. We’re getting a new Beyoncé album next month, and we already know what it’s going to be called: “Rennaissance.”  

Today in health care, top GOP Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.) on Thursday vowed to block more COVID-19 funding unless further justification was provided by administration officials. 

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter SullivanNathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

GOP senator knocks calls for more COVID funding

The outlook for COVID-19 funding is not looking too good.  

A top Republican senator on Thursday pushed back hard against calls from Biden administration health officials for more funding to fight COVID-19, saying that he will be a “roadblock” until the officials provide sufficient justification that the money is needed.   

The comments from Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.), the top Republican on the Senate Health Committee, illustrate how hard it will be for the Biden administration’s COVID-19 funding request to get through Congress, despite health officials’ dire warnings that the money is needed to have enough updated vaccines for all Americans this fall, among other things. 

“I’ll continue to be a roadblock for those who believe that we can blindly just appropriate emergency money, borrow it from the Chinese, and spend it on something that none of us have a clue as to what the plan is,” Burr said during a hearing in front of the Senate Health Committee.   

Dire warnings about lack of funds: Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said people could die unnecessarily without new funding if they cannot get access to updated vaccines and treatments.   

  • “To me the most important thing that will happen is people will die or be hospitalized or experience long COVID for days to months to maybe a lifetime unnecessarily if they don’t have access to the latest vaccines and antivirals,” Califf said.   
  • The White House pushed back on Burr’s contention that it had not provided a plan for the spending, pointing to a 97-page document that it released in March. 

Read more here

DeSantis: No state funds for kids’ COVID vaccine

Florida will not dedicate any state resources to vaccinating young children against COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Thursday. 

Responding to a question following a press conference about an annual python hunt in the Everglades, DeSantis said infants and toddlers “are at practically zero risk of anything with COVID,” so the state will recommend against getting those kids vaccinated. 

“There is not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers, and newborns,” DeSantis said to applause from the crowd on hand. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate and so that’s not where we are going to be utilizing our resources.” 

  • At least 442 children under 5 have died due to COVID-19 through the end of May, exceeding the number or deaths typically seen from flu or other vaccine-preventable illnesses, per federal figures.  

Not banned, but: The governor’s comments come a day after the state confirmed it will not be pre-ordering any vaccines for providers. 

If parents want to give their kids the shots, DeSantis said they will be able to, but he didn’t say when they might be available.  

  • The White House initially made 10 million vaccines for young children available for states, tribes and other jurisdictions to pre-order in anticipation of authorization.  
  • Providers will still be able to order the vaccines themselves, either directly through federal partnerships or from the state. But it’s not clear how long parents may have to wait.   

Read more here.


Abbott Nutrition has halted production at its troubled manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Mich. because of flooding caused by severe weather. 

The company on Wednesday announced that it had to cease making EleCare and other specialty metabolic formulas as a result of the damage. 

  • Abbott restarted production at the plant just two weeks ago after a months-long closure due to a possible link between harmful bacteria and the products produced at its facility.
  • The shutdown and subsequent recall helped trigger the baby formula availability crisis. The new damage will likely delay the production of new products there for at least a few weeks, the company said.
  • High winds, hail, power outages and flooding impacted the plant, and the company will need to conduct repairs and sanitation tests before reopening safely to continue formula production. 

The company entered a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month, saying no definitive link between the detected bacterial infections and its products had been found. 

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf tweeted Wednesday night that weather events are unfortunate, but there is more than enough formula to meet demand.  

Read more here


A group of House Democrats is urging the Biden administration to further soften sanctions against Cuba to aid distribution of the Caribbean nation’s COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. 

In a letter led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the lawmakers praised President Biden’s loosening of travel and remittance restrictions to the island, while asking for bilateral cooperation on public health. 

“As an initial step, we ask that you review U.S. policy towards Cuba in order to facilitate greater global vaccine equity, with a particular focus on ensuring that U.S. sanctions do not impede current or future efforts by Cuba to share COVID-19 vaccines and related technology and medical support with low-income countries around the world,” they wrote. 

The Democrats’ appeal is certain to anger proponents of a harsher Cuba policy on either side of the aisle. 

But the Biden administration has shown willingness to slowly reconsider restrictions imposed on the communist island by the Trump administration, particularly on policy areas with humanitarian ramifications. 

Read more here.

How America is preparing for a post-Roe reality

Americans are awaiting Supreme Court action on a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision that will decide the fate of abortion rights in states across the country. 

The high court’s official decision will follow a draft opinion leaked in April to Politico that suggested the court would overturn Roe v. Wade. 

A decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would punt the issue of abortion rights back to the states, which has abortion rights activists on high alert. Thirteen states have trigger laws that would go into effect if Roe is overturned. 

In some cases, state laws include tight restrictions on abortions that do not include exceptions for rape or incest. In liberal-leaning states, officials have moved to protect the procedure by codifying the right to abortion into their state laws. 

Follow the link below to see reporters from The Hill discuss the implications of the potential overturning of Roe. 

Read more here.


  • Senate passes historic bill to help veterans exposed to burn pits during military service (CNN
  • 100 million people in America are saddled with health care debt (Kaiser Health News
  • Facebook is receiving sensitive medical information from hospital websites (Stat


  • Low levels of testing may be hiding a COVID wave in Texas: Experts (ABC
  • Georgia COVID-19 cases up 20% in the last week (Tribune Ledger News
  • Florida hospitals, physicians scramble as DeSantis opts out of vaccine order for young kids (The Gainesville Sun


That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.


Tags Abbott Baby Formula Baby formula shortage Beyonce child vaccines Covid aid Richard Burr Robert Califf Roe v. Wade Ron DeSantis Vaccine Vaccines
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