Overnight Health Care: White House acknowledges it will fall short of July 4 vaccine goal | Fauci warns of 'localized surges' in areas with low vaccination rates | Senate Finance leader releases principles for lowering prescription drug prices

Overnight Health Care: White House acknowledges it will fall short of July 4 vaccine goal | Fauci warns of 'localized surges' in areas with low vaccination rates | Senate Finance leader releases principles for lowering prescription drug prices
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. Walgreens is offering people who get the vaccine this week a $25 gift card or rewards on their myWalgreens account, if anyone still needs an incentive to get the jab.  

If you have any tips, email us at nweixel@thehill.compsullivan@thehill.com, and jcoleman@thehill.com  

Follow us on Twitter at @NateWeixel, @PeterSullivan4, and @JustineColeman8. 

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Today: The White House acknowledged the U.S. won't make it to Biden's July 4 vaccination goal, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci: US unlikely to return to lockdowns Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Fauci: Amount of virus in breakthrough delta cases 'almost identical' to unvaccinated MORE warns of localized outbreaks, and a key Democrat releases drug pricing principles. 

We’ll start with vaccinations: 

So much for the July 4 vaccination goal….White House acknowledges it will fall short

White House officials faced reality on Tuesday, and acknowledged that the United States is expected to fall short of President BidenJoe BidenGOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory READ: The .2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE’s stated goal of vaccinating 70 percent of American adults with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by July 4.

According to the CDC, the nation stands at 65.4 percent.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsWhat you need to know about the new COVID-19 surge Low vaccination rates among nursing home staff imperil elderly Orlando Sentinel's editorial board implores Floridians to get vaccinated MORE said it will take “a few extra weeks” to get 70 percent of all adults 18 and over with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, pointing to a greater challenge of convincing those between 18 and 26 to get vaccinated. He also said the country will fall short of having 160 million people fully vaccinated.

New goal: Zients said during a briefing that the administration has vaccinated 70 percent of those 30 years old and up with at least one dose and is on track to meet the 70 percent goal among those 27 and older by July 4.

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Definite progress: The Biden administration has made significant progress against the virus, with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths declining dramatically since the start of the year. Biden last week marked another milestone, announcing that 300 million coronavirus vaccine shots had been administered in his first 150 days. 

Free beer? Unclear: The other downside to the missed goal? We're probably going to have to wait on the free beer from Anheuser-Busch, which promised to buy a round for every person (of legal drinking age) when the U.S. hits the 70 percent mark.

Read more here

 

The consequences of not getting vaccinated: Fauci warns of 'localized surges' in areas with low vaccination rates

Anthony Fauci on Tuesday warned of the possibility of "localized surges" of COVID-19 in areas of the U.S. with low vaccination rates if a certain segment of the population declines to get the shots.

Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said at a White House press briefing that he does not expect any surges that were as bad as the pre-vaccine days in the United States, and he says the country is likely past the threat of returning to having 1,000 or more deaths per day.

Danger zone: But there is wide variation in vaccination rates between parts of the U.S., leaving some areas more vulnerable to localized outbreaks, he said. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have vaccinated 70 percent or more adults with at least one shot, while four states (Mississippi, Wyoming, Louisiana and Alabama) are at less than 50 percent, according to New York Times data.

"There is a danger, a real danger, that if there is a persistence of a recalcitrance to getting vaccinated that you could see localized surges," Fauci said.

However, he emphasized: "All of that is totally and completely avoidable by getting vaccinated."

Read more here

 

Senate Finance chair releases principles for lowering prescription drug prices

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenUp next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Democrats release data showing increase in 'mega-IRA' accounts MORE (D-Ore.) on Tuesday released principles for his proposal to lower prescription drug prices, saying current costs are “unacceptable.”

Wyden has been working behind the scenes to craft a bill to lower drug prices that can get all 50 Senate Democrats on board so that a measure can pass the chamber, as Republican support is not expected. 

While some of the contours were already known, the principles released on Tuesday provide the first written indication of what Senate Democrats want. Still, there are many details that are not included in the document, highlighting the work ahead to craft the specifics.

The principles: 

  • Give Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices
  • Allow the lower prices to apply to private insurance as well
  • Cap out of pocket costs for consumers
  • Limit drug price increases to the rate of inflation

Read more here

 

On abortion: Judge permanently blocks Iowa law mandating 24-hour waiting period

An Iowa judge has permanently blocked a state law mandating a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion.

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In June 2020, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the measure in question requiring people seeking an abortion to make an additional appointment at least 24 hours before their procedure. Under the legislation, women would have to receive an ultrasound and certain state-mandated information and then wait at least 24 hours before having an abortion.

Just after the state legislature passed the bill, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to block the measure.

Ruling: In a 28-page ruling on Monday, Judge Mitchell E. Turner found that the law violated the state’s constitution because it was passed as an amendment to an unrelated measure. He also found that the measure was similar to a 72-hour waiting period on abortions that the Iowa Supreme Court struck down in 2018.

Turner noted that a review of videos from the Iowa legislature made it clear that the measure violated the single-subject rule of the state’s constitution — which mandates that an act has to only address one issue.

“Upon review of both the Iowa Senate and House videos, it is abundantly clear to this Court that what occurred in the Iowa Legislature on June 13th and 14th, 2020 was exactly such ‘tricks in legislation’ and ‘mischiefs’ that the single-subject rule exists to prevent,” Turner wrote.

Read more here.

 

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Nursing home deaths spiked in 2020, watchdog report shows

In one of the most in-depth looks at how nursing homes were impacted by the coronavirus, a new government watchdog report shows deaths among Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes increased last year by 32 percent compared to 2019.

That increase amounts to 169,291 more deaths in 2020 than if the mortality rate had remained the same as in 2019. 

The report showed how the number of beneficiaries in nursing homes who had or likely had COVID-19 increased dramatically over the course of just a few weeks during the spring of 2020. In March, 492 Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes per day were diagnosed as having or likely having COVID-19. 

By April, that number had increased almost tenfold, to an average of more than 4,700 new cases per day. 

Each month of 2020 had a higher mortality rate than the corresponding month a year earlier. 

In April alone, a total of 81,484 Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes died. That is almost 30,000 more deaths — an average of about 1,000 per day — compared to 2019. Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes were almost twice as likely to die in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Read more here.

 

Virtual Event Announcement

America's Unfinished Business: An LGBTQ+ Summit--Wednesday, June 23 at 1:00 PM ET

From pending legislation like the Equality Act to advancements in visibility and equity in media, workplaces, healthcare, and governing bodies, The Hill will explore the impact of hard-fought wins and the road still ahead for the issues most affecting LGBTQ+ communities this Pride month. Oregon Gov. Kate BrownKate BrownOregon mandates masks in schools, state buildings Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof eyeing gubernatorial bid in Oregon: report MORE, Rep. Ritchie Torres, NYC Pride Grand Marshal Wilson Cruz, The Knot's Kristen Cooper Maxwell, filmmaker David France and more join The Hill's Steve Clemons on June 23rd for America's Unfinished Business: An LGBTQ+ Summit. RSVP Today.

 

What we’re reading 

New drug could cost the government as much as it spends on NASA (The New York Times)

Newly disclosed FDA documents reveal agency’s unprecedented path to approving Aduhelm (STAT)

CDC to suspend import of dogs 113 countries over rabies concerns (The Washington Post)

 

State by state

Georgia governor to end public health state of emergency on July 1 (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Unvaccinated? Then the state could knock on your door if you live in these Shore towns (Asbury Park Press)

State, DOJ debate merits of external monitor in ongoing mental health lawsuit (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal)

 

Op-eds in The Hill

America's unhealthy lifestyles

Vaccine compliance versus the politics of fear

The generosity of vaccine diplomacy is a strategic investment, not a gift