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President Joe Biden’s social spending budget is on its way to the U.S. Senate, where Democratic leaders are (optimistically) hoping to complete work by the end of the year. Meanwhile, covid is surging again in parts of the country, along with the political divides it continues to cause. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and Mary Agnes Carey of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner previews next week’s Supreme Court abortion oral arguments with Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler.

The Biden administration is bucking the drug industry and backing a waiver of covid-19 vaccine patent protections to help the rest of the world vaccinate its populations. Here at home, the Food and Drug Administration wants to ban menthol flavorings for cigarettes, setting off a fight with the tobacco industry. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider 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 wide field of Democrats vying to face President Donald Trump in the fall has been reduced to two major candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, each with a different prescription for the health system. Meanwhile, Congress and the Trump administration scramble to address the spread of the novel coronavirus. And the Supreme Court agrees to consider the latest case against the Affordable Care Act. Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner, Tami Luhby of CNN and Emmarie Huetteman of Kaiser Health News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more.