Biden’s long Covid order unifies federal agencies’ response (1)

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The White House plans to strengthen coordination among federal health agencies so patients with long-term effects of Covid-19 and their medical providers have faster access to treatment and diagnostics as new research comes to the fore.

President Joe Biden issued a memorandum on Tuesday directing Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to develop the first national interagency long Covid research action plan. The guideline calls for new medical research, clarifies language to establish disability-inclusive policy for patients, and aims to facilitate access to insurance-covered care.

“The effort will advance advances in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and the provision of services, supports, and interventions for those suffering from Long COVID and associated conditions,” a White House statement said. .

The White House’s latest action comes as millions of Americans have reported struggling with long Covid, a constellation of conditions that last long after a patient has cleared the initial infection. But these patients have struggled to access Medicare benefits, are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, and have faced setbacks to become disabled. Meanwhile, lawmakers expressed concern to Bloomberg Law last month that public health data on the prevalence of long Covid and who is most likely to be at risk is two years away.

“Long Covid is real. And there’s still so much we don’t know about it,” Becerra said Tuesday during a White House press briefing on Covid-19. “Millions of Americans may struggle with lingering health effects, ranging from more noticeable things like troubled breathing or irregular heartbeat to less apparent but potentially serious brain or mental health-related conditions. .”

As part of its efforts, the Biden administration requested $20 million in its 2023 budget request to create new Centers of Excellence to research the best ways for health systems to provide care for people with dementia. Covid for a long time.

The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality will house the new centers, which will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institutes of Health to build on existing interim clinical guidelines. . They will also work with clinical leaders, professional societies and national academies.

“This work would fund institutions across the country that bring together leading researchers and care providers across the continuum of care – including hospitals, health centers, long-term care services and supports. and other providers – and support the implementation of new evidence in care. , especially for disproportionately affected populations.

HHS also plans to build on an NIH-funded network of long-running Covid studies called RECOVER to deliver new models of treatment and care. The Biden administration also wants to accelerate the recruitment of research volunteers into RECOVER.

“Equity remains central to the administration’s COVID-19 response efforts, and RECOVER will focus on enrolling individuals of all ages, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses, including pregnant women, people with disabilities and those in communities hardest hit by the pandemic,” the White House said.

The White House is also calling on the Social Security Administration to support an inclusive disability policy for long-term Covid patients and to seek ways to increase access to long-term Covid care through Medicare, Medicaid, insurance market coverage and other options, he said.

People who have had Covid for a long time often struggle to trick family members, coworkers, and even some doctors into thinking their condition is real, because some symptoms like chronic fatigue are difficult, if not impossible, to validate with tests. Becerra seemed to underscore the legitimacy of long Covid in his remarks at the White House briefing. “We see you, we focus on you, and we are committed to advancing our country’s ability to understand and address your conditions.”

—With help from Lydia Wheeler

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