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Barcoding Americans: Is White House planning to use QR codes to verify vaccination status?

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By Jenny Goldsberry

A CBS reporter grilled White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients on vaccine QR codes during a press conference Thursday. This comes as more businesses across the nation began requiring proof of vaccination.

“Now that more entities are requiring more vaccines, is the administration reconsidering something like a QR code or a passport to help verify people’s vaccination status?” the reporter asked. “And if not, what are you doing to stop the proliferation of fake vaccine cards?”

“There are a number of ways people can demonstrate their vaccination status,” Zients replied. “Companies and organizations and the government are taking different approaches. We applaud this innovation.”

However, he was clear that the White House will not get involved in creating vaccination QR codes. “There will be no federal vaccination database,” Zients said. “As with all other vaccines the data gets held at the state and local level.”

Yet he didn’t dismiss the idea entirely, suggesting that local entities could test it out. Zients himself said he would support it as long as it met “key standards, including affordability, being available both digitally and on paper and importantly protecting people’s privacy and security.”

On the other hand, when it comes to fraudulent vaccination cards, he had much stronger words. “We are aware of some causes of fraud. Counterfeit COVID-19 cards being advertised on social media sites and e-commerce platforms,” Zients said. “While the practice is not widespread I will remind everyone that it’s a crime. The office of the Inspector General the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating these schemes.”

Meanwhile, San Fransisco’s Mayor London Breed announced that customers at high-contact indoor businesses will be required to share their vaccination status.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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CA to provide all low-income illegal immigrants health care at a cost of ‘$2.7 billion a year’

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On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $307.9 billion operating budget “that pledges to make all low-income adults eligible for the state’s Medicaid program by 2024 regardless of their immigration status” reports the Associated Press.

The guarantee of free health care for low-income immigrants here illegally, is a “move that will provide coverage for an additional 764,000 people at an eventual cost of about $2.7 billion a year” adds the AP.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care nonprofit, people living in the country illegally in 2020 accounted for roughly 7% of the population nationwide, or about 22.1 million people. The border crisis and number of migrants entering the United States illegally has skyrocketed to historic levels since 2020 when President Joe Biden took office.

Medicaid nationwide is the current combination of federal and state governments assisting Americans and low-income adults and children to receive free health care, but the federal government does not cover those living here illegally.

“Some states, including California, have used their own tax dollars to cover a portion of health care expenses for some low-income immigrants” reports the AP. “Now, California wants to be the first to do that for everyone.”

“This will represent the biggest expansion of coverage in the nation since the start of the Affordable Care Act in 2014,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a statewide consumer health care advocacy group. “In California we recognize (that) everybody benefits when everyone is covered.”

While 92% of Californians currently have some form of health insurance, “that will change once this budget is fully implemented, as adults living in the country illegally make up one of the largest groups of people without insurance in the state” the AP concludes.

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