President Biden speaks about inflation

Health Care — White House to address infant formula shortage

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A group of good Samaritans in Florida were able to stop a moving car after its driver experienced a medical emergency earlier this month, and authorities are now hoping to find and honor them for their deed.

The White House said it was taking steps to address the baby formula shortage, as the Biden administration faces increasing political attacks and scrutiny.

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Biden announces steps to address formula shortage

The White House on Thursday announced steps to try to ease the ongoing baby formula shortage, as the Biden administration fends off political attacks ahead of the congressional midterm elections.

The steps include urging states to expand formula access for people who receive benefits from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), cracking down on price gouging of formula sales, and increasing imports.

The new measures come after President Biden spoke with retailers and formula manufacturers earlier in the day about their efforts to increase the availability and access for families in need.

Biden spoke with the CEOs of Walmart, Target, Reckitt (Mead Johnson) and Gerber “to talk to them about the work they’re doing and call on them to do all they can to help families purchase and access infant formula,” a senior administration official said.

Notable absence: Abbott Nutrition, which is the top manufacturer in the country, and the company which issued a nationwide recall that’s a major contributor to the shortage.

Impact: In a call with reporters, a senior administration official said companies are producing more formula now than before a nationwide recall. However, the official did not have a timeframe for when the additional product would be available on store shelves.

Backstory: A nationwide shortage of infant formula has left parents across the country scrambling, particularly those who cannot breastfeed or who have children who suffer from medical conditions and need specialty formula as a result.

Read more here.

US shares COVID info to expand vaccine access

The White House on Thursday announced it is licensing COVID-19 technologies to the World Health Organization to enable global manufacturers to make COVID-19 shots and increase testing capability.

Through the National Institute of Health (NIH), the White House said it licensed “research tools and the intellectual property” for several COVID-19 technologies to the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), a UN-backed initiative that seeks to bring medical innovations to low and middle-income countries.

These technologies include the stabilized spike protein used in many coronavirus vaccines. The spike protein is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. When administered, the spike protein induces an immune response that teaches the immune system to fend off an actual infection.

In his remarks at the second Global COVID-19 Summit on Thursday, President Biden touched on the technology sharing as part of “significant new commitments to help keep up the fight against COVID-19 in 2022, protect the most vulnerable populations and prepare for the next health crisis.”

The WHO said in a statement that 11 technologies from the US were being licensed as part of this agreement. Apart from the spike protein, also included were diagnostic technologies, early stage COVID-19 vaccine candidates and research tools.

Read more here.

FLAGS TO FLY AT HALF-STAFF TO MARK 1M COVID DEATHS

President Biden ordered flags at half-staff Thursday to commemorate the deaths of 1 million Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Biden released a statement Thursday morning honoring those who have died in the US over the last two years of the pandemic. He is also set to address a global COVID-19 summit later in the day in a pre-recorded statement.

Various COVID-19 trackers have different totals for the number of Americans who have died from the coronavirus.

NBC News has compiled data showing more than 1 million Americans have already been lost to COVID-19, while Johns Hopkins University’s tracker has the number at slightly above 998,000.

While the US hovers around the 1 million deaths mark, cases are beginning to rise again across the US, though experts are not panicking due to the nature of the omicron subvariant known as BA.2 and widespread immunity provided by vaccines and antibodies.

Read more here.

NURSE SHORTFALL COULD HIT HALF MILLION IN THREE YEARS: RESEARCH

The US could face a labor gap of up to 450,000 nurses by 2025, according to new research out Wednesday.

An analysis from McKinsey & Company specifically found a potential shortage of between 200,000 and 450,000 nurses who are available for direct patient care.

To correct this, the US would “need to more than double the number of new graduates entering and staying in the nursing workforce every year for the next three years straight.”

In addition to the shortage of nurses, the analysis said that by 2025 the US could face increased inpatient demand due to COVID-19 — as well as more patient demand from the aging population generally.

Prior to the pandemic, McKinsey said that the rate of nursing licenses grew at around 4 percent per year. But now, 29 percent of registered nurses who participated in the survey said they were “likely to leave their current role in direct patient care” if not leave the workforce entirely.

The analysis suggests working to attract more people to nursing roles, increasing the availability of academic and clinical spots for prospective nurses and rethinking clinical education.

Read more here.

Senators want abortion protections for military

A group of eight Senators is urging Pentagon officials to ensure that service members can get access to an abortion even if the medical procedure becomes illegal in states where they are based.

The lawmakers, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), are pressing the Department of Defense (DOD) to act quickly on the matter following the leaked draft ruling from the Supreme Court made public last week. The draft document indicates the court is set to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

“If the opinion goes into effect, millions of thousands of troops, dependents, and DOD civilians will lose access to safe abortions and potentially face criminal prosecution for exercising a fundamental human right — creating a scenario where servicemembers’ reproductive and healthcare rights would become dependent on their duty station,” read a letter the senators sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday.

The lawmakers, which consist of seven Democrats and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), implores Austin to implement protective policies in the military before any ruling goes into effect.

“At a minimum, you and your staff should consider implementing policy changes to allow servicemembers to obtain [special permission] in order to travel out of state for reproductive healthcare and abortions if they are stationed in a jurisdiction that curtails these rights,” they write.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Senator says Biden should consider Defense Production Act to boost baby formula supply (NPR)
  • Deaths from COVID begin to rise again (Axios)
  • Is Paxlovid, the Covid pill, reaching those who most need it? The government won’t say (Kaiser Health News)

STATE BY STATE

  • California lawmakers raise caps on medical malpractice lawsuit awards (KOVR)
  • This north Texas city just approved free healthcare for all residents (WFAA)
  • COVID vaccine will remain a requirement for Louisiana students (Louisiana Illuminator)

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.

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