Congress is in a stalemate to pass a funding bill that included $15.6 in Covid aid. If a funding plan is not passed funding for critical treatments would shift to private insurance and out of pocket cost to Americans who require medical attention for their infection.
Amid another surge, public health officials warn of a continued fight against a new strain of Covid as White House officials grapple for funds. Recently, the White House made the decision to transition from pandemic response to sustained planning in the less acute era of Covid surges. With congressional players removing the funds from the spending package, financial support for Americans in the inevitable surge is a wild card.
Press Secretary Jenn Psaki said in a March 10, 2022 press briefing "results are dire...free testing will end by April and by May monoclonial antibodies will end" in terms of government support. The cost of monoclonial antibodies, a popular treatment, is over $2,000 out of pocket. Psaki further stated "it is essential to get that money" citing that if it could be moved elsewhere it would have already been moved. Notably, testing capacity will wane by June if the funds are not allocated by congress in time.
The weight of congressional decision about Covid funding will be felt almost immediately. Testing for the uninsured could stop later this month with no new claims being accepted. Government purchase of anti-viral pills would also be ceased. Vaccine research will also suffer. Additionally, American global support of vaccinations will fail and this will effect 20 other countries as a consequence.
The government faces yet another shut down on Friday if the funding is not passed by the deadline. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi elected to remove the pandemic money from the legislation package in order to reach across the aisle and move the measure forward. The initial package was introduced and included $13.6 billion dollars in aid for Ukraine. The issues with Covid funding had largely gone unannounced until a push this week to pass the bill including the funding or for a standalone bill for Covid aid.
A government shutdown in the middle of rising tensions in the East, rising inflation and a pressing Covid surge would weaken the administration's ability to remediate those pressing factors. In addition, it places aid to Ukraine at risk nearly a month into a devastating engagement with Russia.
Senate Republicans penned a letter last week requesting accounting information for how the government allocated $5.7 trillion dollars in emergency aid that was previously approved earlier in the pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to "keep fighting to make sure we get that money approved as soon as possible".