Biden Finally Using Federal Funding Power Against COVID – Grants May Be Next; Many More Lives Would be Saved With Less Intrusive Grant Announcement
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 18, 2021) - Now that President Joe Biden has announced that he will use his authority over federal funding to reduce preventable COVID deaths and expensive hospitalizations - by mandating nursing homes to require vaccinations by staff or risk a funding cutoff - it's time for him to take the next logical step which will save even more lives and be far less intrusive, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
Banzhaf, whose suggestion for fighting COVID has been adopted by the FDA, notes that he has been urging the President's COVID advisors to suggest that he use his authority over funding - something he can do without any action by Congress, and which is unquestionable lawful - for a long time, and is encouraged by this new development.
This may be the first step towards using his power over grants and other federal funding to save lives, and reduce the spread of the new delta variant, says Banzhaf, who noted that it took just such actions when he was fighting smoking, and facing a much more effective and much better financed disinformation campaign which - then like now - overwhelmed governmental warnings, health messages, and guidance
The professor, who has had many successes in several public health fields, suggested this approach almost a year ago to members of Biden's Coronavirus Advisory Board, and more recently to dozens of his COVID advisors within the government.
Unvaccinated Americans Are Increasing The Spread Of The Virus
Banzhaf says his proposal is even more imperative now since unvaccinated Americans are permitting the COVID virus to mutate to more dangerous variants, and even children's hospitals are overflowing and beginning to turn away very sick children.
He had also suggested, before Biden acted, that the President require federal workers to be vaccinated or face consequences; an action which seems to now be encouraging other public and private entities to impose their own vaccine requirements.
Banzhaf's funding proposal is that the President order federal agencies within the executive branch which award health-related grants, and as to which they have been permitted significant discretion in selecting applicants (both public and private), to award grants only from entities within states which had vaccine requirements in place as of a given date; or, at very least, give applications from entities in such states preference over other applicants.
Alternatively, agencies could give lower priority in awarding grants to entities which have refused to adopt vaccine requirements in states which do not prohibit such restrictions.
After all, argues Banzhaf, why send taxpayers' money earmarked to protect public health to cities, counties, hospitals, universities, and other entities which risk the lives of employees and the public by imposing no restrictions on the unvaccinated who create a very high risk of exposing others to a deadly disease.
Providing conditions on grant applicants is far less intrusive than threatening to cut off existing funding to nursing homes, and likely to save far more lives because there are far more entities receiving - and hoping to receive - federal health grants than there are nursing homes.
Cutting off federal funding to nursing homes would also directly threaten the lives of many innocent elderly residents; something which restricting grants would not do, he argues.
Since trying to further refine or clarify the government's messaging on COVID seems to be about as ineffective as the government's messaging during the last century urging people not to smoke, we should now do what finally turned the tide and helped prevent millions of unnecessary smoker deaths by persuading tens of millions of American to protect their own health - by using the power of the purse to encourage grant applicants and other employers to insist upon vaccinations as a condition of employment.