What We’re Reading: More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Purchased; Revisiting Medicaid Work Requirements; Tax Deductions in Opioid Settlement

The Biden administration purchases an additional 200 million coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine doses; the president plans to revoke Medicaid work requirements; companies seek billion-dollar tax deductions in opioid crisis settlement.

More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Purchased

HHS and the Department of Defense (DOD) have purchased an additional 200 million doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, bringing the nation’s total combined purchase to 600 million doses. With the new total, the government now has the capacity to vaccinate 300 million people, while each company will deliver 300 million doses in regular increments through the end of July 2021, according to a statement. In the meantime, acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran urged Americans to continue mitigation efforts, including wearing masks, washing hands, and practicing physical distancing. The 2 departments have contracted with 4 other companies to expedite development and production of additional vaccines.

Revoking Medicaid Work Requirements on Biden Agenda

The Biden administration plans to notify states today it is seeking to revoke Medicaid work requirements approved by former president Donald Trump, Politico reports. Democrats have been largely opposed to the measures, claiming the rules were illegal and set out to shrink health care coverage for poor adults. The new administration’s health department is expected to further unravel the work rules in the coming weeks, claiming that during the COVID-19 pandemic is not the time to test policies that risk substantial loss of health coverage or benefits. The measures, which were approved in a number of states, were allowed to mandate some people work or volunteer in order to be enrolled in Medicaid.

Companies Seek Tax Deductions in Opioid Settlement

Although Cardinal Health, Johnson & Johnson, Amerisource Bergen, and McKesson all agreed to pay a combined $26 billion to settle claims regarding their roles in the opioid crisis, the 4 companies plan to deduct some of those costs from their taxes and regain around $1 billion each, according to a Washington Post analysis. Throughout recent months, the companies updated their financial projections to include tax benefits from the expected deal. Under the proposed settlement, each company would pay between $5 and $8 billion to reimburse communities affected by the opioid crisis. However, some feel the $26 billion is not enough to compensate for the epidemic’s financial toll and lets companies off the hook without an admission of guilt.