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Russia’s attacks on Ukraine took the headlines for President Joe Biden’s first official State of the Union address, but Biden made a point to highlight several of the administration’s high-priority health issues, including covid, mental health, nursing home regulation, and ailments among military personnel from toxic burn pits.
Also this week, the Biden administration unveiled a program aimed at getting the country better prepared should another covid surge take place. Congress is also starting work on pandemic preparation legislation, although some lawmakers might be reluctant to spend still more money on the effort.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post, and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
The Biden administration’s proposals to improve nursing home care are a byproduct of the covid pandemic. Nearly a quarter of the 975,000 deaths in this country have been among people living or working in nursing homes.But the proposed changes will hit a hard reality: Nursing homes face severe labor shortages. Recruiting employees is a challenge because of the difficult work involved, the risks of covid, and the meager average pay.Improvements to nursing home care can be expected to take time. Some proposals will need congressional funding, and although nursing home safety has general bipartisan support, there are many interests competing for federal dollars. In addition, making changes through regulation is a time-consuming process.Biden also emphasized in his State of the Union speech the compelling need to boost mental health services in the nation, following problems such as increased suicides, depression among children, and opioid dependence, all of which have been compounded by the pandemic.Among the notable health care omissions in Bi …