Author

Laura Olson

Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Tennessee Lookout. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Should the drug-pricing provisions survive, experts say the proposed set of policy changes would make a start toward price reductions, though the effort won’t entirely solve the drug-pricing crisis. (Getty Images)

Prescription drug price reform on the line in Biden’s big social spending bill

By: - December 18, 2021

WASHINGTON — Among the most potentially transformational changes in the Democrats’ massive social and climate bill pending in the Senate are a set of long-sought changes intended to tamp down the fast-rising cost of prescription drugs. The $2 trillion spending package would ensure Americans don’t pay more than $35 when they pick up a new […]

The World Health Organization classified the new COVID-19 variant as a “variant of concern” due to its high mutation and transmission rate. The new strain is called “omicron.” (Getty Images)

CDC: 25 states report omicron strain of COVID-19, but delta remains biggest threat

By: - December 10, 2021

WASHINGTON — Twenty-five states have identified cases of the new omicron variant of COVID-19, federal public health officials said Friday as they released new data on the first 43 U.S. cases. Tennessee is not one of the states in which the strain has been found. Of those initial, confirmed cases, more than half were among people […]

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to give a primetime address to the nation from the East Room of the White House March 11, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden gave the address to mark the one-year anniversary of the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. Senate rejects Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers

By: - December 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed a resolution Wednesday night to block President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on private employers, with every Republican and two Democrats casting votes aimed at preventing that pending requirement.  Democratic Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia joined with the GOP in backing the […]

A long line of cars waits at a COVID-19 testing center at Nashville's Nissan Stadium. (John Partipilo)

At-home COVID tests to be covered by insurance—but details still to come

By: - December 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — State health officials on Thursday welcomed the Biden administration’s plan to require private health insurers to reimburse Americans for the cost of rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests—though the officials also raised questions about whether the process will be burdensome. Making those tests more accessible will allow Americans to get results quickly and in the privacy […]

 COVID-19 Nurses at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in protective gear. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Vaccine mandate for health care workers halted nationwide by Louisiana judge

By: and - November 30, 2021

WASHINGTON—A federal judge in Louisiana on Tuesday issued a ruling blocking nationwide the Biden administration mandate requiring millions of health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19. A suit challenging the mandate was led on behalf of multiple states by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, and U.S. Judge Terry Doughty granted the states’ request […]

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine at Meharry Medical Center in Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

New COVID omicron variant ‘not a cause for panic,’ Biden says

By: - November 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden sought to reassure Americans on Monday about the latest COVID-19 variant, describing it as “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” Biden did not announce any new travel restrictions or other federal actions during his brief remarks from the White House.  Instead, he urged Americans to get a booster […]

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine at Meharry Medical Center in Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Federal health officials open up access to COVID-19 booster shots to all U.S. adults

By: - November 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials on Friday moved to expand access to COVID-19 booster shots to all American adults, in an effort to bolster protection against infections as case counts rise again across the United States. Officials with the Food and Drug Administration on Friday morning authorized booster shots for anyone over age 18 who […]

President Joe Biden signed his $1.2 billion infrastructure bill into law at the White House on Monday. (Photo provided by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper.)

Biden signs $1.2T infrastructure bill: ‘America is moving again’

By: , and - November 16, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday signed into law his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill during a ceremony at the White House packed with some 800 supporters, heralding what he said was a “truly consequential” spending bill that will improve Americans’ day-to-day lives. But Democrats also emphasized that there is more to come—a $1.85 trillion […]

Maria Hernandez at Davidson County General Sessions Court in November, waiting to see if she can work out a deal with her landlord to stay in her apartment. (Photo: John Partipilo)

States, cities face deadline for proving how quickly they’ve helped renters in crisis

By: - November 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — States, cities and counties that excelled at distributing emergency federal aid to renters struggling during the pandemic may soon be rewarded—with yet more cash. Their new funding would be drawn from sluggish states and localities that didn’t move as swiftly to help people facing eviction and homelessness, who were targeted for billions in assistance […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

COVID-19 vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11 could be ready as soon as next week

By: - October 26, 2021

WASHINGTON — The next wave of the massive COVID-19 vaccination campaign could begin as soon as next week, after federal regulators decide if elementary school students across the U.S. should begin rolling up their tiny sleeves. That multistep approval process kicks off Tuesday, when the Food & Drug Administration’s panel of vaccine experts will vote on […]

London Moore, 6, at of Historic First Community Church in Nashville. (Photo by John Partipilo)

Orphaned, infected, in crisis: How the pandemic is traumatizing kids

By: - September 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has brought heartbreaking consequences for millions of U.S. children, even as most avoided serious illness themselves, pediatric experts told Congress on Wednesday. Take, for instance, a young girl from Tennessee named Sophia, whose story was relayed by Dr. Margaret Rush, president of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University. Within […]

WAVERLY, TN - AUGUST 23: A partially submerged Ford F-150 sits in Trace Creek on August 23, 2021 in Waverly, Tennessee. Heavy rains on Sunday caused flash flooding in the area, leaving at least 22 people dead and several more still missing. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

U.S. House Dems propose $28.6B in disaster aid for recovery from hurricanes, wildfires, floods

By: - September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats unveiled a short-term spending measure on Tuesday that would keep the federal government operating through Dec. 3 and provide $28.6 billion for costs related to recent natural disasters.  That disaster relief money is slightly more than the $24 billion that the Biden administration asked Congress to approve for extreme weather events […]