The internet has once again fallen in love with a cat. This time, it’s a late black-and-orange cat named Toast who “was no help at all,” according to her owner.
In health news, President Biden is working to rally Democratic voters over abortion rights — an effort to refocus the midterm message as anger over Roe v. Wade being overturned fades in favor of economic concerns.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi.
President Biden calls to codify abortion rights
President Biden on Tuesday sought to refocus the upcoming midterm elections on the debate over abortion rights, pledging to push for a bill to codify abortion access if Democrats add to their majorities in Congress.
Biden, in remarks at Washington, D.C.’s Howard Theatre, warned of dire consequences for access to reproductive health if Republicans win majorities in the House and Senate.
“The final say does not rest in the court now. It does not rest with extreme Republicans in Congress,” he said. “It rests with you.”
The speech at a Democratic National Committee event came three weeks before the midterms as some polls indicate voters are more concerned about the economy.
Lofty goals: The president said he wants to sign a bill to codify Roe v. Wade on the 50-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Jan. 22, 1973, when, he noted, he was a 30-year-old first-term senator. The 50th anniversary would be just days after a new Congress is sworn in.
Passing a bill through Congress to codify Roe v. Wade is dependent on Democrats retaining the House, which has always looked like an uphill climb, and increasing their Senate majority, which could allow Democrats to change the rules surrounding the filibuster.
“Together, we’ll restore the right to choose for every woman in every state in America. So vote. You gotta get out the vote. We can do this if we vote,” Biden said.
Read more here.
Biodefense strategy aims to prevent more pandemics
The White House on Tuesday released its national biodefense strategy, outlining President Biden’s plan to protect the U.S. from future pandemics and biological threats.
The plan, which utilizes 20 federal agencies, aims to detect early warnings of pandemics and biological threats, prevent epidemics and biological incidents and prepare to reduce the impacts of epidemics.
“We … know that the risk of another pandemic as bad or worse than COVID is a real threat,” a senior administration official said. “The new National Biodefense Strategy therefore outlines a bold vision, along with critical actions, towards a world free of pandemics and catastrophic biological incidents.”
Other goals include rapidly responding to outbreaks as well as restoring community, the economy and the environment after a pandemic or biological incident.
Additionally, the strategy lays out plans for “moonshot” efforts such as transforming early warning of pathogens through next-generation technologies, launching diagnostics for any new pathogen within 12 hours of an outbreak and developing novel vaccines within 100 days.
Biden on Tuesday is set to sign a national security memorandum on countering biological threats, enhancing pandemic preparedness and achieving global health security.
Read more here.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION HOSTING SERIES TO ADDRESS PANDEMIC LEARNING LOSS
The Department of Education announced Tuesday it will be hosting five sessions to address learning loss among students amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the switch to virtual learning.
The series, called “Raising the Bar: Literacy & Math Series to Address Academic Recovery,” will begin Oct. 26 and focus on “strategies and programs to boost literacy and math outcomes,” according to a department announcement.
“The series seeks to build engagement from the field; identify collaboration opportunities among research, practice, and funding; and lift best practices and resources for practitioners and policymakers to take action to address learning loss and academic recovery,” the department wrote in its announcement.
The series follows the release of the September National Assessment of Educational Progress, which showed substantial learning loss among students during the coronavirus pandemic.
The report showed 9-year-old students had the biggest drop in reading scores in
30 years amid the pandemic, while mathematics dropped for the first time ever.
Read more here.
FDA, DOJ SUE VAPE SHOPS
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday said it is taking legal action against six e-cigarette manufacturers to stop them from selling and promoting their products.
The agency for the first time asked the Department of Justice to seek permanent injunctions against vaping companies, after the companies repeatedly ignored warnings that some of their products are illegal, FDA and DOJ said in a joint release.
The action represents an escalation for the Biden administration, which has been facing criticism from Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups for not doing enough to enforce existing law.
It is illegal to sell or distribute e-cigarettes that the FDA has not authorized, though many companies have been ignoring that requirement and their products have remained on the market.
“We will not stand by as manufacturers repeatedly break the law, especially after being afforded multiple opportunities to comply,” Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement.
Read more here.
HHS didn’t meet stockpile requirements: watchdog
A federal watchdog found that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not meet a number of requirements in maintaining the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) of medical countermeasures.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a review of the SNS’s operating procedures, requirements, inventory and obligatory data. The agency’s report was first issued in August but was made public on Monday.
The SNS is a multibillion-dollar reserve of drugs, vaccines and other medical supplies meant to supplement medical countermeasures among states and local jurisdictions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical supplies such as N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment were deployed.
As the GAO noted in its report, inventory decisions for the SNS were led by prior reviews from the assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR) from 2015 to 2019.
However, this process was suspended after the agency was reorganized, resulting in no SNS reviews being conducted for three years beginning in 2017. The reviews meant to be conducted during those years would have informed inventory decisions made between 2020 and 2022.
“Instead of completing annual reviews, SNS officials told us they used recommendations from a previously completed review to inform inventory decisions for these years,” the GAO report stated.
“We have concerns about ASPR’s ability to prepare for, and respond to, public health emergencies given recent management challenges related to the SNS,” the GAO report said. “If left unaddressed, these deficiencies will continue to hamper ASPR’s ability to be prepared for, effectively respond to, and recover from future threats.”
Read more here.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Desperate pleas and smuggled pills: A covert abortion network rises after Roe (Washington Post) Biden officials search for backup for key Covid therapy for immunocompromised people (Stat) Monkeypox vaccines still aren’t reaching Black Americans (The 19th News)
STATE BY STATE
Kentucky receives more than $4.4 million in grants to improve rural health care (WYMT) North Dakota Department of Health audit finds thousands of improperly-stored COVID-19 vaccinations (KXNET) Campaigning ramps up as South Dakota voters decide on Medicaid expansion (Kaiser Health News)
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.