HEALTH BRIEFING: Immigrants Seek Health Access Despite Threats

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The Biden administration is facing renewed pressure to help young immigrants in precarious legal status gain access to health care.

The push coincides with this week’s 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides deportation protection and work authorization for more than 600,000 immigrants who were brought to the US without authorization as children.

DACA recipients aren’t eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act and lack full access to Medicaid and other programs. Many lack health insurance.

“While the DACA program has been a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth, receipt of DACA has not ended their barriers to health services or improved health outcomes,” a new National Immigration Law Center report says. Ellen Gilmer has the full story.

Happening on the Hill

FDA User Fees & Retirement Measures: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is set to convene Tuesday on S. 4348, which would reauthorize the user fees that drug and medical device industries negotiate with, and pay to, the Food and Drug Administration for five years. The House passed its version (H.R. 7667) last week by a 392-28 vote; it contains several provisions, including one on pediatric cancer research, that aren’t in the Senate legislation.

  • Click here for more of the week’s hearings and markups.

Gun Deal Includes Mental Health: State mental health and school safety will see billions of dollars under an agreement unveiled Sunday by a bipartisan group of senators that aims to reduce gun violence in the US, Alex Ruoff reports.

The agreement includes an expansion of funds for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics meant to take the model from less than a dozen states to nationwide. The clinics will be funded through Medicaid, according to an announcement from Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who have sought the change.

“Making sure people who are experiencing a mental health crisis can get treatment before they harm themselves or others is critically important to preventing another tragedy,” Blunt said in a statement.

The agreement, which still needs to be put into legislative language, also includes “major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs,” according to an outline provided by the 20 senators who announced the deal Sunday. There will also be funds to increase access to tele-mental health services and school-based mental health services.

The Coronavirus Pandemic

Moderna Data Shows Shot Works in Kids 6 Months and Up, FDA Says: Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is effective in children and adolescents, with mostly mild to moderate side effects, the US Food and Drug Administration staff said. “Available data support the effectiveness of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in pediatric age groups from 6 months through 17 years of age,” the FDA staff said Friday in the report posted to the agency’s website. Side effects were “mostly mild to moderate in severity, generally of short duration.” Fiona Rutherford and Robert Langreth cover the report.

  • FDA staff said that Pfizer’s Covid shot was effective for kids ages 4 and under with no new safety concerns, in a report released ahead of a key meeting of FDA advisers later this week, Fiona Rutherford and Robert Langreth report.

Broader CDC Authority on Public Health Threats Gets Key Support Congress needs to give the CDC broad authority to tackle public health by updating a 75-year-old law in a way that allows the agency to act swiftly while protecting individual rights, a National Academies panel said in a report.

“There’s been a lot of effort to undermine the public health legal authority broadly,” Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association and chair of the committee that produced the report, said in an interview.

The report, released Friday, said uncertainty about the scope of the CDC’s authority is “particularly concerning given the limitations of other government actors. It is also concerning because the CDC must be able to act decisively and lawfully in a public health crisis.” Jeannie Baumann has more form the report.

California Courts Consider Requesting Covid-Era Powers Extension: California’s court system is considering whether to request an extension of the judiciary’s pandemic-era emergency powers as infections continue to disrupt operations, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said.

“The problem for the branch is we can’t move to an endemic stage as long as there continues to be a 10-day isolation period where we continue to lose valuable staff and judges,” Cantil-Sakauye said at a Friday virtual event held by the California Constitution Center and several other organizations. Madison Alder has more.

Airlines Get Relief From Covid Rule, But May Not Be Ready for It: Airlines have been petitioning for months to ease a pandemic-era restriction on arrivals from abroad. Now that the White House has lifted mandatory Covid testing for inbound passengers, the industry may rue having its collective wish granted just ahead of the busiest time of year for travel. Justin Bachman explains.

What Else to Know

Monkeypox Isn’t Spreading as Easily as Covid, CDC Says: Almost all US monkeypox cases have been associated with close contact rather than airborne transmission, US health officials said in response to concerns that the virus might be able to spread as easily as Covid-19. Madison Muller and Jeannie Baumann have more.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Giuseppe Macri in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Small at

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