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U.S. regulators are extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They also said Wednesday anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially. The Food and Drug Administration announcement marks a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month. But it’s not the last word. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel later this week before finalizing official recommendations for boosters 

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A state audit finds that Iowa’s privatized Medicaid system has illegally denied services or care to program recipients, and both private insurance companies managing the system have violated terms of their contracts with the state. Auditor Rob Sand on Wednesday released the report from his investigation that examined a six-year period from 2013 through 2019. He says his investigators found a massive increase in illegal denials of care under privatized Medicaid. Iowa Medicaid Director Elizabeth Matney rejected the report's conclusions, arguing Sand was making an “apples to oranges comparison” that mischaracterized the current program.

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President Joe Biden is entering a crucial two weeks for his ambitious agenda. Biden is racing to conclude contentious congressional negotiations ahead of both domestic deadlines and a chance to showcase his administration’s accomplishments on the world stage. Biden and his fellow Democrats are struggling to bridge intraparty divides by month’s end to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a larger social services package. That goal has been jeopardized by fractures among Democrats, leaving the fate of sweeping climate change promises in peril. There's also rising anxiety within the party in the leadup to a bellwether Virginia gubernatorial contest and looming Senate fights over the federal debt limit and government funding.

AP
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Hillary Clinton returned to the Southern California hospital where Bill Clinton is being treated for an infection. She returned around 8 a.m. Saturday in an SUV accompanied by secret service agents. President Joe Biden says Bill Clinton is doing fine and will be released soon. Biden said Friday that he'd spoken with the former president and he's not “in any serious condition." A spokesman for Clinton had said he was being held overnight Friday to receive antibiotics. Bill Clinton, who's 75, was admitted to a hospital in Orange County on Tuesday for what an aide says was a urological infection that spread to his bloodstream. 

AP

U.S. health advisers are debating if millions of Americans who received Moderna vaccinations should get a booster shot — this time, using half the original dose. Already certain high-risk groups who got their initial Pfizer vaccinations at least six months ago are rolling up their sleeves. Thursday and Friday, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will recommend if and when to offer boosters to both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients. Final decisions are expected next week. U.S. officials stress that the priority is to get shots to the 66 million unvaccinated Americans who are eligible.

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More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers appear ready to go on strike if negotiators can’t deliver a new agreement by the end of the day. The United Auto Workers union has said its members would walk off the job if no deal has been reached by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. The vast majority of the union rejected a contract offer earlier this week that would have delivered at least 5% raises. Thirty-five years have passed since the last major Deere strike, but workers are emboldened to demand more this year after working long hours throughout the pandemic and because companies are facing worker shortages.

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The Food and Drug Administration is wrestling with how to decide on booster doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. And a new study raises the prospect that using a different vaccine might give a better boost. On Thursday and Friday, an FDA advisory panel will recommend whether to back boosters of both the J&J and Moderna vaccines. In a review posted Wednesday, FDA scientists didn’t reach a firm conclusion on J&J booster doses, citing shortcomings with the company's data. An extra dose of Pfizer’s vaccine already is available to certain Americans.

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Millions of retirees on Social Security will get a 5.9% boost in benefits for 2022. The biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years follows a burst in inflation as the economy struggles to shake off the drag of the coronavirus pandemic. The COLA increase amounts to $92 a month for the average retired worker, according to estimates released Wednesday by the Social Security Administration. The increase affects household budgets for about 1 in 5 Americans, nearly 70 million people, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees. Policymakers say it's a safeguard to protect benefits against a loss of purchasing power, and not a pay raise for retirees. 

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Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, has blasted into space in a convergence of science fiction and science reality. He set out Wednesday morning for the final frontier aboard a ship built by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. The “Star Trek” hero becomes the oldest person to ride a rocket. The fully automatic spacecraft is set to reach an altitude of 66 miles over the West Texas desert. The up-and-down flight should last about 10 minutes, with Shatner and his three fellow passengers parachuting back to Earth in the capsule.

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Police in central Florida have arrested the 22-year-old father of a toddler who fatally shot his mother while she was on a Zoom call for work. Police say the 2-year-old found a loaded handgun in his “Paw Patrol” backpack. Veondre Avery was arrested Tuesday and charged with negligent manslaughter and unsafe storage of a firearm. Altamonte Springs police say the little boy fired a single shot on Aug. 11 that hit his mother, Shamaya Lynn, in the head. A co-worker on the Zoom call and Avery both dialed 911 for help. The Seminole County State Attorney’s Office said Avery is being held without bond.