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In his proposed budget, President Joe Biden called for a boost in health spending that includes billions of dollars to prepare for a future pandemic. But that doesn’t include money he says is needed immediately for testing and treating covid-19. Also this week, federal regulators authorized a second booster shot for people 50 and older yet gave little guidance to consumers about who needs the shot and when. Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post, Jennifer Haberkorn of the Los Angeles Times, and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey to discuss these issues and more. Plus, Julie Rovner interviews KHN’s Julie Appleby, who reported and wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a very expensive air ambulance ride.

The Biden administration’s request for billions more in funding to fight covid-19 hit a snag on Capitol Hill this week, as Democrats objected to Republican demands that money allocated to states but not yet spent be reclaimed. Meanwhile, the big annual spending bill about to cross the finish line addresses other health policy changes, such as giving the FDA authority to regulate “synthetic” nicotine. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, and Jessie Hellmann of Modern Healthcare join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

The polarizing abortion issue threatens to tie up Congress, the Supreme Court and the states for the coming year. Meanwhile, Congress kicks the can down the road to December on settling its spending priorities. Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.
Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Aneri Pattani, who delivered the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode about a covid test that cost as much as a luxury car.

With real-time data streaming in from highly specialized researchers in the U.S. and abroad, NIH scientists became convinced that boosting the covid-19 vaccine was needed to save lives, prompting the president to announce a plan with a Sept. 20 start date. Scientists at the regulatory agencies weren’t yet convinced. A meeting Friday will determine what happens next. Here’s the story from behind the scenes.