Biden Bits: The Road Ahead

Biden Tweets Logo. Image by Lenny Ghoul.

It’s Tuesday.

When Biden Bits was published for Monday, President Biden had not tweeted. He tweeted 3 times after post time, giving him a Monday Tweeting Total of 3 tweets and 0 retweets.

His first and third tweet come from remarks he gave on January 6th, 2022 to mark the year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol.

President Biden: So, we have to be firm, resolute, and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted.

President Biden: Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America — at American democracy.

HHS.gov‘s., full statement:

As part of its ongoing efforts across many channels to expand Americans’ access to free testing, the Biden-Harris Administration is requiring insurance companies and group health plans to cover the cost of over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests, so people with private health coverage can get them for free starting January 15th.  The new coverage requirement means that most consumers with private health coverage can go online or to a pharmacy or store, buy a test, and either get it paid for up front by their health plan, or get reimbursed for the cost by submitting a claim to their plan. This requirement incentivizes insurers to cover these costs up front and ensures individuals do not need an order from their health care provider to access these tests for free.

Beginning January 15, 2022, individuals with private health insurance coverage or covered by a group health plan who purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test authorized, cleared, or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be able to have those test costs covered by their plan or insurance. Insurance companies and health plans are required to cover 8 free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month. That means a family of four, all on the same plan, would be able to get up to 32 of these tests covered by their health plan per month. There is no limit on the number of tests, including at-home tests, that are covered if ordered or administered by a health care provider following an individualized clinical assessment, including for those who may need them due to underlying medical conditions.

Over-the-counter test purchases will be covered in the commercial market without the need for a health care provider’s order or individualized clinical assessment, and without any cost-sharing requirements such as deductibles, co-payments or coinsurance, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements. 

As part of the requirement, the Administration is incentivizing insurers and group health plans to set up programs that allow people to get the over-the-counter tests directly through preferred pharmacies, retailers or other entities with no out-of-pocket costs.  Insurers and plans would cover the costs upfront, eliminating the need for consumers to submit a claim for reimbursement. When plans and insurers make tests available for upfront coverage through preferred pharmacies or retailers, they are still required to reimburse tests purchased by consumers outside of that network, at a rate of up to $12 per individual test (or the cost of the test, if less than $12). For example, if an individual has a plan that offers direct coverage through their preferred pharmacy but that individual instead purchases tests through an online retailer, the plan is still required to reimburse them up to $12 per individual test. Consumers can find out more information from their plan about how their plan or insurer will cover over-the-counter tests.

State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs are currently required to cover FDA-authorized at-home COVID-19 tests without cost-sharing. In 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration issued guidance explaining that State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs must cover all types of FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests without cost sharing under CMS’s interpretation of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2019 (ARP). Medicare pays for COVID-19 diagnostic tests performed by a laboratory, such as PCR and antigen tests, with no beneficiary cost sharing when the test is ordered by a physician, non-physician practitioner, pharmacist, or other authorized health care professional. People enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan should check with their plan to see if their plan offers coverage and payment for at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 tests. 

This effort is in addition to a number of actions the Biden Administration is taking to expand access to testing for all Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing up to 50 million free, at-home tests to community health centers and Medicare-certified health clinics for distribution at no cost to patients and community members. The program is intended to ensure COVID-19 tests are made available to populations and settings in need of testing. HHS also has established more than 10,000 free community-based pharmacy testing sites around the country.  To respond to the Omicron surge, HHS and FEMA are creating surge testing sites in states across the nation.  

HHS.gov. 01/10/2022.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra: Under President Biden’s leadership, we are requiring insurers and group health plans to make tests free for millions of Americans. This is all part of our overall strategy to ramp-up access to easy-to-use, at-home tests at no cost. Since we took office, we have more than tripled the number of sites where people can get COVID-19 tests for free, and we’re also purchasing half a billion at-home, rapid tests to send for free to Americans who need them. By requiring private health plans to cover people’s at-home tests, we are further expanding Americans’ ability to get tests for free when they need them.

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure: Testing is critically important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as to quickly diagnose COVID-19 so that it can be effectively treated. Today’s action further removes financial barriers and expands access to COVID-19 tests for millions of people.

For Tuesday January 11th, 2021, President Biden has received his daily brief. Today, President Biden will travel to Atlanta, GA; he and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will lay a wreath at the crypt of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,. Afterward the President and the Vice President will visit the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. This afternoon President Biden and Vice President Harris will offer remarks on voting; that event does not take place at the church.

President Biden has tweeted 2 times so far for Tuesday…

On Tuesday morning ahead of his speech on voting rights, ABC News, NPR.org, and the New York Times released an excerpt of his remarks provided to them by the White House.

President Biden is suppose to say: The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand.

ABC News went further quoting President Biden as going to say; I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?

All three articles agree that President Biden will make a strong push for ending the filibuster over voting rights, but will stop short of calling for the elimination of the Senate filibuster altogether.

Congress.gov provided a searchable PDF for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 that doesn’t need downloaded.

Summary:

This bill establishes new criteria for determining which states and political subdivisions must obtain preclearance before changes to voting practices may take effect. Preclearance is the process of receiving preapproval from the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before making legal changes that would affect voting rights.

A state and all of its political subdivisions shall be subject to preclearance of voting practice changes for a 10-year period if;

*15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years;

*10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least 1 of which was committed by the state itself; or

*3 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years and the state administers the elections.

A political subdivision as a separate unit shall also be subject to preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.

States and political subdivisions that meet certain thresholds regarding minority groups must preclear covered practices before implementation, such as changes to methods of election and redistricting.

Further, states and political subdivisions must notify the public of changes to voting practices.

Next, the bill authorizes DOJ to require states or political subdivisions to provide certain documents or answers to questions for enforcing voting rights.

The bill also outlines factors courts must consider when hearing challenges to voting practices, such as the extent of any history of official voting discrimination in the state or political subdivision.

Congress.gov., summary.

Congress.gov provided a searchable PDF for the Freedom to Vote Act that doesn’t need downloaded.

This bill addresses voter registration and voting access, election integrity and security, redistricting, and campaign finance.

Specifically, the bill expands voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote-by-mail and early voting). It also limits removing voters from voter rolls.

Next, the bill establishes Election Day as a federal holiday.

The bill declares that the right of a U.S. citizen to vote in any election for federal office shall not be denied or abridged because that individual has been convicted of a criminal offense unless, at the time of the election, such individual is serving a felony sentence.

The bill establishes certain federal criminal offenses related to voting. In particular, the bill establishes a new criminal offense for conduct (or attempted conduct) to corruptly hinder, interfere with, or prevent another person from registering to vote or helping someone register to vote.

Additionally, the bill sets forth provisions related to election security, including by requiring states to conduct post-election audits for federal elections. The bill outlines criteria for congressional redistricting and generally prohibits mid-decade redistricting.

The bill outlines criteria for congressional redistricting and generally prohibits mid-decade redistricting.

The bill addresses campaign finance, including by expanding the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals, requiring additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending, requiring additional disclaimers regarding certain political advertising, and establishing an alternative campaign funding system for certain federal offices.

Congress.gov., summary.

The daily press briefing will be held on Air Force. It’s scheduled for 11:45 a.m. D.C., time. So it will either be over or in progress at post time.

President and Vice President Harris remarks are set for 3:50 p.m. D.C., time.

This is an Open Thread.

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About Tiff 1815 Articles
Member of the Free Press who is politically homeless and a political junkie.