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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is asking Congress to bolster public health funding yet again — a call the White House says is necessary to prepare the country for the next pandemic and address public health crises that have been pushed amid Covid-19.

Biden called for a $1.6 billion funding increase for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a boost that represents almost a quarter of the agency’s current budget — to help increase core public health capacity at the federal and state level. The money could also be used to help build out public health data infrastructure and train new public health experts.

Biden also prioritized pandemic preparedness efforts, as he proposed $905 million to buy new medical supplies for the nation’s stockpile and increase organizational capacity at the Food and Drug Administration. That’s in addition to the $30 billion Biden proposed in the first phase of his infrastructure plan for biopreparedness efforts.

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“We want to use every lever at our disposal to address the challenges we face,” a Biden administration official said Friday on a call with reporters.

Lawmakers rarely hew closely to the White House’s requests, but the document illustrates the administration’s values and priorities for the congressional spending process.

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And at least some of it is likely to move forward. Fleshing out public health infrastructure has also been a priority for Senate health committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Murray and her Republican counterpart, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), are also planning to work on pandemic preparedness legislation this year.

While the pandemic has consumed the public health world for more than a year, other crises have gotten worse, including the opioid epidemic. Accelerating drug overdoses could soon, for the first time, claim 100,000 U.S. lives in a single year.

Biden is proposing $10.7 billion for research, prevention, treatment, and recovery support services related to the opioid crisis, a 57% bump from last year’s levels. The opioid crisis has proved to be an ongoing political headache for the administration as well, as several Democratic senators threatened to vote against acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock if she were tapped for the top job, over concerns about her handling of the epidemic.

Other public health priorities Biden highlighted in his budgetary wishlist include more than doubling funding for community mental health services, improving health equity and data collection on race and ethnicity, resources to lower maternal mortality rates, and funds to expand access to treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS.

The release on Friday was a partial request. A full budget is expected in late spring.

  • Reading this, I have the sense Biden, as the oldest President ever, has nonetheless failed to learn one of the most important lessons of history:
    Societies fail to learn the lessons of history.
    History told us what to do to slow the pandemic down, but we did not do it. I mean, we did it a little, but not a lot.
    But the good/bad news is, the lessons of history are not that helpful going forward, because advances in medical technologies make a lot of them obsolete. Or can potentially do so.
    It is kind of interesting to note, from all appearances, the US was hide bound, inflexible, ossified – and we did a poor job of handling the epidemic = the flexible Orient, unencumbered as we are by these things, did better. We seem determined to stick to vaccine protocols which will ensure a surge in B1117 – despite strong evidence UK is doing better with their rules.
    The people running things are in their 70s and 80s – and many strategies are rejected out of hand, basically on the grounds of “we’ve never done things that way” –

    There was a company which came up with a vaccine they put into clinical trials in March 2020 – called Moderna.
    Another company called Pfizer – in business with BioNTech – came up with a vaccine they started testing in April 2020.
    But we did not get those vaccines until December, after the US I grew up in was very badly, and I think permanently damaged – we could not do human challenge testing – not only did the septuagenarians in charge completely refuse to consider that – but the media never seriously raised the question.
    I do not see much hope we will do better next time – there has been no serious questioning of the way this epidemic was handled and no sign anyone learned anything.

  • Leave it to the Biden-Beaver to ramp up what has been lagging in America. Just like structural infrastructure needs and gets a serious and very long overdue modernization, so should the US health infrastructure. I tip my hat to what many call this “old guy” : he has the forward-moving endeavours that younger Pres’s lacked.

    • I am not trying to get too political – please do not misunderstand me – but Biden is far too limited in intelligence and creative thinking to reform anything. He is not capable of it = and though she almost certainly has higher native intelligence, there is no sign whatever Harris is capable of any innovative thinking. Do not expect either to do anything except throw more money at established power bases. The contractors are big contributors to local government races in California – they get their money back many fold from often useless road contract- where i live, they have perfectly good sidewalks – but they changed the specs – so they were no long acceptable and they replace them in huge areas – pure waste. That is what you are going to get from your trillions in infrastructure. And we do not need a bunch of new infrastructure to get business – business started falling off in the 70s – long before we heard the claims of failing infrastructure – most of the money will be wasted.

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