Shortage of COVID Funding in Biden’s Strategy Affects All US Citizens
The White House has sought $22.5 billion in funding with COVID funds running low, but now with the test funding stalled, huge gaps are appearing in the country’s ability to respond to variants and the return to normal-COVID strategy now affected.
Without key funding or essential tools, the shortage of funding in Biden’s strategy will affect all U.S. citizens, particularly those who are uninsured.
Now the question becomes, ‘How will White House officials keep a number of efforts running without the funds and a backup plan? How will they manage BA.2 and the possible upcoming surge? How will they assist the uninsured population when COVID-response cuts are already being made? How will officials gear up with funding now stalled? How will the overall health of the population be affected?
Administration’s Plan for the Next Phase Thwarted
When Biden revealed his plans for the next phase of the pandemic, he thought citizens would return back to work and daily activities. This new normal was “based on the assumption that Congress would be giving it billions for treatments, vaccines, and testing.”
However, as news sites report, “That money appears to be in jeopardy after Congress dropped $15.6 billion in COVID response money from the massive government funding package signed this week. Now citizens are affected, in the following ways:
- Lack of COVID treatments and monoclonal antibodies
- Lack of programs to provide treatments and testing to the uninsured soon to run out
- A new and highly effective treatment from Pfizer will remain in limited supply
- A “test to treat” program which would have allowed individuals to get tested at a pharmacy and then receive the medication will remain in set-up mode for longer than originally planned
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will take longer to approve the vaccine for children under five years of age
- Older adults will need a fourth dose of the vaccine, four months after their last booster, to keep up high levels of antibody production, however, insufficient funds to buy more booster doses for every U.S. citizens will see locals battling to receive this.
- Citizens may have to work from home, wear masks when outdoors, and go back to mid-pandemic restrictions which will see livelihoods affected
- Locals will see an uptick in cases and infections and would incur sickness without lack of health assistance and treatment. This may, in turn, affect their mental states drastically and give rise to more suffering from anxiety and depression
- COVID will see lives disrupted back to mid-pandemic levels,
- A lack of therapeutics, testing, and vaccines.
As U.S. News reports, “Also at risk: free COVID care for uninsured people.” Adding to this, “As for the “Test to Treat” program, … it would help people get medication soon after they are infected, heading off a potential hospitalization. Test to Treat is indispensable. But right now, the option is not widely available. Pharmacy “locations don’t grow on trees, the way money doesn’t grow on trees, and it costs money.”
The Current Health and Funding Situation
News reports have stated, “Lawmakers are stranded with no clear path ahead for additional COVID money. With the loss of the best vehicle to advance it, the effort will now require a compromise that can win over House Democrats and at least ten Senate Republicans to pass. Congress should find a way to approve that funding while conceding that lawmakers “will have to offset it” and avoid adding to the debt.”
Currently, requests to see how existing COVID funds have been spent need to be answered. Republicans have now “…called for a standalone COVID relief bill, saying the federal government has “completely exhausted” public health money in the American Rescue Plan and “must pass additional COVID funding” to therapeutics, testing, and vaccines.”
U.S News reports that “He also said his Department of Health and Human Services is trying to prepare, so millions of people do not lose health insurance if their eligibility for Medicaid lapses when the government ends the official COVID public health emergency. During the pandemic, Congress has been providing more money for state Medicaid programs”
Individuals, State and Federal Parties Can do Their Part to Bring the New Normal Now
While the question of a new normal is affected by funding issues, citizens can do their part through personal responsibility. The country’s health status and its people are yet to be sufficiently stabilized, so it’s about Americans’ sense of personal responsibility. Those who are uninsured should continue following the health and safety recommendations as suggested by the CDC and The World Health Organization and exercise, keep social distance, wear masks, sleep, and eat healthily.
Further to this, suggested government actions to achieve universal health coverage are provided in a journal article on the U.S Library of Medicine. On a federal level, these include:
- Legislate to match state funding for coverage of adults on incomes up to 1.5 times the federal poverty threshold
- Allow small businesses and uninsured people to purchase coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits programme
- Require all companies to either provide health benefits to all employees or contribute $1/hour of work towards coverage under public programmes and require everyone to purchase cover
- Extend Medicare programme to uninsured adults aged 55 to 64 and eliminate the two year wait before disabled people are eligible
- Revise Medicare’s payment system to reward higher quality and greater efficiency, with savings used to expand coverage
- Dedicate tax of 1% of income to financing expanded coverage and use existing subsidies for low income charity care to finance expansion
On a state level, these include the revision of the children’s health insurance program to include adults on incomes up to 1.5 times the federal poverty threshold and children up to three times the threshold. Also included is the revision of Medicaid’s payment system to reward higher quality and greater efficiency, with savings used to expand coverage.