White House doesn’t deny it is considering withholding funds to force vaccinations

White House doesn’t deny it is considering withholding funds to force vaccinations

The White House did not deny a report that the Biden administration is considering leveraging federal financial muscle to push institutions to require Americans get vaccinated.

“As we always are, the administration is discussing a host of different measures we can continue to boost vaccinations across the country,” a White House official told Fox News. “Any reported ideas under consideration are in early conversations and pre-decisional. There are no imminent policy decisions as to preview at this time.”

The statement comes after the Washington Post reported Thursday that the administration is considering withholding federal funds and using federal regulatory powers in a bid to push Americans to get vaccinated.

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The plan could target institutions such as long-term-care facilities, cruise ships, and universities, hoping to reach many of the 90 million Americans who are eligible for the vaccine but have not yet received it.

One area the plan could focus on is restricting access to federal funds such as Medicare in a bid to persuade nursing homes and long-term-care facilities to require that their employees get vaccinated, the Post reported

While no decisions have been finalized on the plan, at least one outside lawyer in contact with the Biden administration has urged restraint in using federal powers.

The move could trigger backlash among some Americans, including in GOP strongholds that have high rates of vaccine hesitancy. 

The plan is being weighed amid a spike in COVID-19 cases largely driven by the delta variant, which experts have warned is more easily transmittable than the original strain. The rolling seven-day average of new infections has risen to 95,000 as of Thursday, causing some experts to call on the federal government to use more of its powers.

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“I think wisely using the federal spending power is absolutely right,” said Lawrence Gostin, the head of Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.