June 20, 2024


Let's Live Healthy

First Edition: March 10, 2023

16 min read

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Black Patients Dress Up And Modify Speech To Reduce Bias, California Survey Shows 

A young mother in California’s Antelope Valley bathes her children and dresses them in neat clothes, making sure they look their very best — at medical appointments. “I brush their teeth before they see the dentist. Just little things like that to protect myself from being treated unfairly,” she told researchers. A 72-year-old in Los Angeles, mindful that he is a Black man, tries to put providers at ease around him. “My actions will probably be looked at and applied to the whole race, especially if my actions are negative,” he said. “And especially if they are perceived as aggressive.” (Sciacca, 3/10)

Seniors With Anxiety Frequently Don’t Get Help. Here’s Why. 

Anxiety is the most common psychological disorder affecting adults in the U.S. In older people, it’s associated with considerable distress as well as ill health, diminished quality of life, and elevated rates of disability. Yet, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, influential panel of experts, suggested last year that adults be screened for anxiety, it left out one group — people 65 and older. (Graham, 3/10)

Montana Considers New Wave Of Legislation To Loosen Vaccination Rules 

When Deb Horning’s youngest daughter was 5, she got her measles, mumps, and rubella shot like many other kindergartners. But unlike many other moms, Horning had to stay away from her daughter for a week after the shot. Horning, 51, was diagnosed in 2014 with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive cancer — the five-year survival rate for those older than 20 is 27%. Horning had been through chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, which severely weakened her immune system. Because the MMR vaccine contains live virus, she couldn’t get the vaccine herself and had to temporarily avoid her vaccinated daughter. (Larson, 3/10)

Share Your Prior Authorization Story With Us

Originally intended to prevent doctors from deploying expensive and ineffectual treatments, prior authorization has morphed into an unwieldy monster that denies or delays needed care, burdens physicians with paperwork, and perpetuates racial disparities. And new federal rules may not be enough to tame it. Do you have an experience navigating prior authorization to get medical treatment that you’d like to share with us for our reporting? (3/9)

The New York Times:
Biden’s $6.8 Trillion Budget Proposes New Social Programs And Higher Taxes

President Biden on Thursday proposed a $6.8 trillion budget that sought to increase spending on the military and a wide range of new social programs while also reducing future budget deficits, defying Republican calls to scale back government and reasserting his economic vision before an expected re-election campaign. The budget contains some $5 trillion in proposed tax increases on high earners and corporations over a decade, much of which would offset new spending programs aimed at the middle class and the poor. It seeks to reduce budget deficits by nearly $3 trillion over that time, compared with the country’s current path. (Tankersley, 3/9)

Modern Healthcare:
Biden’s Budget Proposal Highlights Healthcare Priorities

The Biden administration released details Thursday of the president’s plans, which touch on Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the health insurance exchanges, the Indian Health Service, prescription drug prices, mental healthcare, rural health, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other issues. (Turner, 3/9)

Biden Puts Drug Pricing At The Center Of His Budget

President Biden made lowering drug prices a key part of his budget with proposals to expand Medicare drug price negotiation, squeeze more rebates out of drug companies, and lower the cost of insulin for everyone with insurance. (Wilkerson, 3/9)

The Wall Street Journal:
Biden’s Budget Shows The Rising Cost Of Leaving Medicare And Social Security Untouched 

When President Biden accused some Republicans during his State of the Union address last month of wanting to sunset the country’s two big elderly entitlement programs, GOP legislators booed. Mr. Biden responded: “Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right? They’re not to be touched? All right. We’ve got unanimity.” The price of that unanimity becomes starkly clear in Mr. Biden’s budget, released Thursday. As promised, it doesn’t cut either program’s benefits. As a result, their cost continues to ratchet steadily higher. By 2033, they consume 10.5% of gross domestic product, up 2.7 percentage points from last year. (Ip, 3/9)

Biden To Seek More Than $2.8B From Congress For Cancer Fight 

President Joe Biden is asking Congress for more than $2.8 billion in the federal budget he’s sending to Capitol Hill on Thursday to help advance his cancer-fighting goals. More than half of the money, $1.7 billion, would go to the Department of Health and Human Services to support the Democratic president’s cancer initiatives across an array of departments and agencies, according to White House officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details with The Associated Press before Biden formally unveils his spending blueprint later Thursday in Philadelphia. (Superville, 3/9)

An $11 Billion White House Plan To End Hepatitis C

The Biden administration is calling on Congress to fund a more than $11 billion program to eliminate hepatitis C in the United States. It’s a significant price tag for a single line in the broader budget request; while the $11 billion ask would cover five years of the new initiative, it still dwarfs the annual budget request for the entire Food and Drug Administration, at $7.2 billion. The annual request for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also comes in below the hepatitis C topline, at $10.8 billion. (Florko, 3/9)

Biden Requests $20B Cash Infusion To Bolster Public Health

The Biden administration is calling for a big boost for public health funding across the federal health department, but left out specific funding for Covid-19 activities. In its budget request to Congress on Thursday, the White House asked for $20 billion over five years to support pandemic preparedness efforts at the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration. The request aligns with the White House’s National Biodefense Plan. (Cohrs, 3/9)

Biden Wants To Send Americans More Checks

Under Biden’s proposed budget, the American Rescue Plan’s Child Tax Credit would be restored in full to its 2021 amount. According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, the tax credit cut child poverty in half in 2021, and if approved, would expand the credit to $3,000 per child, an increase of $1,000. Parents with children under the age of 6 would see an even bigger credit, with $3,600 proposed. (Skinner, 3/9)

The New York Times:
FDA Will Require Dense Breast Disclosure At Mammogram Clinics 

In a long-awaited ruling, the Food and Drug Administration recommended on Thursday that all mammogram centers must tell women if they have dense breasts that could put them at increased risk for breast cancer. The density of breast tissue — whether it contains mostly fatty or glandular tissues — varies from woman to woman and has nothing to do with the size or shape or feel of a woman’s breasts. The only way for a woman to know if she has dense breasts and, if so, how dense they are is by having a mammogram; she cannot tell by looking at or feeling her breasts. (Kolata, 3/9)

FDA Mammography Update Raises Cost Questions

The FDA is updating mammography guidelines in a move that could protect people at higher risk of developing breast cancer but also drive up demand for more tests and screenings. The agency’s new rule requires mammogram providers to notify patients about breast density, which can make it harder to detect cancer and as a result, puts some at increased risk of the disease. 38 states already have such reporting requirements. (Gonzalez, 3/10)

The Hill:
Fauci Says Redfield’s Testimony Of COVID Call Was ‘Unequivocally Incorrect’ 

Anthony Fauci, who led much of the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said testimony from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield that he was excluded from a conference call about the possible origins of the virus was “unequivocally incorrect.” Fauci told Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto in an interview on Thursday that he was not involved in deciding who would be involved in a call he took with a group of evolutionary virologists to discuss the “possibility” that the virus was “engineered.” (Gans, 3/9)

San Francisco Chronicle:
In A First, Zoo Lion Infects Its Keepers

According to a new study, an Indiana zoo lion likely transmitted COVID-19 to its zookeepers, marking the first documented case of animal-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a zoo setting. In December 2021, the unidentified African lion, who was 20 years old and required hand feeding by zoo employees at Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend due to its physical limitations, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after developing a cough and showing signs of difficulty breathing. (Vaziri, 3/9)

The Boston Globe:
Local Scientists Hope To Create The Ultimate COVID Vaccine

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other local universities say they’ve developed a COVID vaccine that may not only work against today’s versions of the virus, but future variants as well. A report on the new vaccine’s results in animals was released Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Immunology. Scientists at MIT, Boston University, Tufts University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Texas collaborated on the project. (Bray, 3/9)

Long Covid Opens A Gender Gap With Surge In Women With Disabilities

Women are disproportionately affected by lingering effects from a Covid-19 infection, a health condition that is still little understood and manifests in persistent symptoms that can be debilitating. The emergence of long Covid coincides with an increase in women with disabilities, who have outnumbered their male peers in monthly government labor figures on a regular basis since last June. (Tanzi and Hawkins, 3/9)

Omicron Less Likely Than Wild-Type Virus To Result In Long COVID, Study Suggests

Swiss researchers find that the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is much less likely to lead to long COVID than the original, wild-type virus. The research, to be presented at next month’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Copenhagen, Denmark, and not peer-reviewed, found that healthcare workers (HCWs) first infected with Omicron BA.1 were no more likely to have long COVID than their never-infected peers. (Van Beusekom, 3/9)

Bay Area News Group:
Walgreens Pushes Back On California Contract Cancellation Over Abortion Pill Plans

Walgreens said Thursday that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is unfairly targeting the pharmacy over plans for dispensing abortion pills in other states that it says are no different than those of its competitors. Newsom this week said California “won’t be doing business with Walgreens — or any company that cowers to the extremists and puts women’s lives at risk” after the pharmacy indicated last week it would not dispense abortion pills 21 states where attorneys general warned they would consider it illegal. (Woolfolk, 3/9)

New York Governor, Attorney General Press Pharmacy Chains On Abortion Drug Policy 

Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Tish James are pressing three of the country’s largest pharmacy chains to dispense abortion medications in New York and across the U.S., after Walgreens said it would stop offering the drugs in states where Republican attorneys general have threatened legal action. In a letter Thursday, Hochul and James asked the CEOs of Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS to confirm in writing that the chains will offer the abortion drug mifepristone at their New York pharmacies and through the mail to patients across the state who have a doctor’s prescription. (Kaufman, 3/9)

New Hampshire Senate Rejects Codifying Abortion Rights 

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday refused to affirm abortion as an explicit right, but lawmakers are still considering a slew of bills on both sides of the issue. The Republican-led Senate voted 14-10 along party lines to reject a bill that would have codified abortion in state law. Opponents said it was unnecessary because current law, which prohibits abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, is clear. (Ramer, 3/9)

Bill Debuting ‘Baby Box’ Locations In West Virginia Advances 

The West Virginia Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would allow “baby box” safe surrender locations in the state. The Senate’s 32-0 vote sends the bill back to the House of Delegates to concur after a committee amendment was added and adopted. The House earlier passed the bill. (3/9)

Judge Uses A Slavery Law To Rule Frozen Embryos Are Property

Frozen human embryos can legally be considered property, or “chattel,” a Virginia judge has ruled, basing his decision in part on a 19th century law governing the treatment of slaves. The preliminary opinion by Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Richard Gardiner – delivered in a long-running dispute between a divorced husband and wife – is being criticized by some for wrongly and unnecessarily delving into a time in Virginia history when it was legally permissible to own human beings. (Barakat, 3/9)

The New York Times:
These Morning-After Pills May Prevent STI’s, Researchers Say 

Sexually transmitted infections have soared in recent years in the United States, prompting an urgent search for solutions. New research suggests that a widely available antibiotic, taken after sex, may help stem the tide. A single dose of doxycycline taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex dramatically cuts the risk of a bacterial S.T.I., studies have found. The approach seems most effective for preventing chlamydia and syphilis, and slightly less so for preventing gonorrhea. (Mandavilli, 3/9)

The Pentagon Is Funding Experiments On Animals To Recreate ‘Havana Syndrome’ 

The Defense Department is funding experiments on animals to determine if radio frequency waves could be the source of the mysterious ailment referred to as “Havana Syndrome” that has afflicted hundreds of U.S. government personnel in recent years, according to public documents and three people familiar with the effort. … The Army in September awarded Wayne State University in Michigan a $750,000 grant to study the effects of radio frequency waves on ferrets, which have brains similar to humans, according to information on the grant posted on USASpending.gov. (Seligman, 3/9)

Inflation And Money Woes Are Forcing Americans To Delay Medical Care

At a health-screening event in Sarasota, Florida, people milled around a parking lot waiting their turn for blood pressure or diabetes checks. The event was held in Sarasota’s Newtown neighborhood, a historically Black community. Local resident Tracy Green, 54, joined the line outside a pink and white bus offering free mammograms. “It’s a blessing, because some people, like me, are not fortunate and so this is what I needed,” she said. (Columbini, 3/10)

Modern Healthcare:
How Lawsuits Targeting The No Surprises Act Could Weaken It

The No Surprises Act has taken the patient out of the middle of payment disputes between insurers and out-of-network providers, shielding more than 9 million people from unexpected bills since the law was enacted in 2022. But in the background, providers and payers are fighting over how to set appropriate reimbursement rates in a dozen lawsuits or so that could take years to resolve. (Kacik, 3/9)

Becker’s Hospital Review:
New Jersey Disciplines 46 Nurses Tied To Degree Sham

Forty-six nurses implicated in the fraudulent degree scandal have been ordered to stop practicing in New Jersey, Attorney General Matthew Platkin said March 9. State officials rescinded the licenses of 20 nurses allegedly involved in the scheme and demanded they stop practicing in the state. The nurses are required to notify their employers about the actions and could face further fines or penalties if they continue practicing. (Bean, 3/9)

Becker’s Hospital Review:
Pennsylvania Lawmakers Want 6 Months’ Notice Before A Hospital Closes

A pair of Pennsylvania state representatives have drafted legislation designed to prevent abrupt hospital closures by doubling the time in which a health system must notify state and local agencies of a planned closure. State Reps. Eddie Day Pashinski and Jennifer O’Mara’s House Bill 158 doubles the time in which a system must notify state and local agencies of a planned closure from 90 to 180 days. The lawmakers pointed to specific hospital closures over the past year that, while abiding by the current state law of 90 days’ notice, they deemed abrupt. (Gamble, 3/9)

West Virginia Lawmakers OK Hospital Expansion Rule Changes

West Virginia hospitals seeking to improve or add services would no longer be required in some circumstances to undergo a review process, under a bill that won final legislative approval Thursday. The House of Delegates voted 75-20 to pass the bill. It previously made it through the Senate. (Raby, 3/9)

The Boston Globe:
‘This Is Outrageous’: Advocates Urge State To Take Control Of Four Nursing Homes Slated To Close

Advocates for elderly and disabled nursing home residents in Western Massachusetts are urging state regulators to take control of four nursing homes slated to close this spring, saying frail residents are being abruptly forced out, with some threatened with homelessness, if they don’t leave quickly. Others are being told they will be placed in facilities more than an hour away, far from family and loved ones, if they don’t find alternative placements soon. (Lazar, 3/9)

New Hampshire Senate Backs Medicaid Expansion Bill

A unanimous New Hampshire Senate gave preliminary approval Thursday to continuing the state’s expanded Medicaid program and making it permanent. The 24-0 vote to send the bill to the Finance Committee highlighted the Legislature’s evolution on what initially was a tough sell when lawmakers first considered expanding health care coverage for low-income residents. (Ramer, 3/9)

Republicans Block Meningitis, Chickenpox Vaccine Mandates

Wisconsin Republicans blocked Gov. Tony Evers’ plan Thursday to require student vaccinations against meningitis and tighten student chickenpox vaccination requirements. The Legislature’s GOP-controlled rules committee voted 6-4 to block the proposal. All six of the panel’s Republican members voted to stop the policy. The vote comes two days after a lengthy public hearing on the policy changes that saw parents complain that the new requirements trample their liberties. The committee blocked the proposal last legislative session as well. (Richmond, 3/9)

The Washington Post:
Senators Grill Norfolk Southern CEO On Toxic Ohio Train Derailment 

Norfolk Southern’s communication failures left emergency responders scrambling to prepare for a massive plume of toxic chemicals after a train operated by the company derailed and threatened to cause an explosion in East Palestine, Ohio, some witnesses and lawmakers told Congress on Thursday. Pressed by senators at a three-hour hearing on the Feb. 3 derailment, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan H. Shaw apologized for the disaster but stopped short of guaranteeing certain specific cleanup and safety measures, such as paid sick days for his employees or funding for East Palestine residents’ possible medical expenses. (McDaniel, Duncan, Wang and Dance, 3/9)

Dealers With Cancer Beg For Atlantic City Casino Smoking Ban

Tammy Brady began her career as an Atlantic City casino dealer at the age of 18. Now 55, she has stage 2 breast cancer. “While I’m not sure we will ever know the exact cause of my illness, I can’t help but wonder if it would have happened if the casinos hadn’t forced me to work in second-hand smoke,” said Brady, who works at the Borgata casino. Holly Diebler, a craps dealer at Tropicana, is undergoing chemotherapy for throat cancer. “I don’t even know how long I’m going to live,” she said. “I love my job; I don’t want to leave it. But all my oncologists have told me this is a life-and-death choice.” (Parry, 3/9)

Murder-Suicides Reach Record High

Though shocking, murder-suicides are far from rare: some 1,200 Americans die in such incidents each year, according to research by the nonprofit Violence Policy Center. Although there is no agency comprehensively tracking the toll of murder-suicides in the U.S., what data there is indicates that they are on the rise. According to the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), 2022 saw the highest number of murder-suicides using firearms on record. Some 670 occurred last year, up from 594 in 2021 and 570 the year before. As of March 9, there have have been 134 murder-suicide incidents involving guns, the GVA reports, meaning 2023 is on course to top last year’s total. (Rahman, 3/9)

Fox News:
Millennials Are Racking Up More Chronic Health Conditions Compared To Other Generations: Study

Millennials are seeking more professional help for health issues than ever, a new study revealed. Conducted by United Healthcare and Health Action Council, the study explored factors and claims data from policyholders ages 27 to 42 — a total of 126,000 individuals. It compared current data from April 2021 through March 2022 to historical data dating back to 2012. The findings were presented in the groups’ sixth annual white paper. (Stabile, 3/9)

Mexican President To US: Fentanyl Is Your Problem 

Mexico’s president said Thursday that his country does not produce or consume fentanyl, despite enormous evidence to the contrary. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appeared to depict the synthetic opioid epidemic largely as a U.S. problem, and said the United States should use family values to fight drug addiction. His statement came during a visit to Mexico by Liz Sherwood-Randall, the White House homeland security adviser, to discuss the fentanyl crisis. It also comes amid calls by some U.S. Republicans to use the U.S. military to attack drug labs in Mexico. (Stevenson, 3/9)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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