Tuesday, November 1, 2022 – Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Health News Original Stories
This Open Enrollment Season, Look Out for Health Insurance That Seems Too Good to Be True
Complaints about misleading health insurance marketing are soaring. State insurance commissioners are taking notice. They’ve created a shared internal database to monitor questionable business practices, and, in the future, they hope to provide a public-facing resource for consumers. In the meantime, consumers should shop wisely as open enrollment season begins. (Bram Sable-Smith, )
Medicare Fines for High Hospital Readmissions Drop, but Nearly 2,300 Facilities Are Still Penalized
Federal officials said they are penalizing 2,273 hospitals, the fewest since the fiscal year that ended in September 2014. Driving the decline was a change in the formula to compensate for the chaos caused by the covid-19 pandemic. (Jordan Rau, )
Look Up Your Hospital: Is It Being Penalized By Medicare?
Each year, Medicare punishes hospitals that have high rates of readmissions and high rates of infections and patient injuries. Check out which hospitals have been penalized. (Jordan Rau, )
What Looks Like Pot, Acts Like Pot, but Is Legal Nearly Everywhere? Meet Hemp-Derived Delta-9 THC
The 2018 farm bill that legalized hemp created a loophole for an unregulated copycat of marijuana. A form of delta-9 THC — the psychoactive substance in pot — doesn’t face the same laws and regulations as marijuana because it comes from hemp. The drug is poised to upend the cannabis industry. (Eric Berger, )
Here's today's health policy haiku:
Check out all the Halloween haiku contest winners
Covid, Ebola,
Monkeypox, seasonal flu —
Who needs Halloween?
– Paul Hughes-Cromwick
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if we can include your name. Haikus follow the format of 5-7-5 syllables. We give extra brownie points if you link back to a KHN original story.
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Coverage And Access
ACA Enrollment Opens With Hefty Subsidies Still Available For Many
Americans can start signing up for 2023 health insurance plans through healthcare.gov, with federal subsidies expanded through 2025 for those who qualify. Premiums are expected to go up though for those who do not qualify.
AP: Low Costs Expected To Keep Obamacare Interest High
Millions of Americans can begin selecting their 2023 health insurance plans on HealthCare.gov on Tuesday, as the Biden administration pushes to keep the number of uninsured Americans at a record low. Those searching for coverage will largely be shielded from an increase in costs because of the extension of the generous subsidies that began last year as part of Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law and drove a big increase in enrollment. (Seitz, 10/31)
Axios: ACA Sign-Ups Begin With Millions Likely To Duck Big Premium Hikes
Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act coverage begins today, with enhanced subsidies that Congress renewed through 2025 expected to cushion the blow of premium increases for millions of Americans. (Dreher, 11/1)
KHN: This Open Enrollment Season, Look Out For Health Insurance That Seems Too Good To Be True
Complaints about misleading health insurance marketing are soaring. State insurance commissioners are taking notice. They’ve created a shared internal database to monitor questionable business practices, and, in the future, they hope to provide a public-facing resource for consumers. In the meantime, consumers should shop wisely as open enrollment season begins. (Sable-Smith, 11/1)
Fox Business: Obamacare Call Center Workers Plan Strike For First Day Of Open Enrollment
Hundreds of call center workers trained to field Americans' questions about ObamaCare health insurance coverage are planning to walk off the job on the first day of Affordable Care Act open enrollment Tuesday in a protest aimed at seeking higher pay and better working conditions from their private-sector employer. A public relations firm representing the workers said in a media advisory that more than 650 employees of Maximus, a federal contractor that operates call centers serving the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), have pledged to strike at facilities in Bogalusa, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; London, Kentucky; and Chester, Virginia, on Nov. 1 when "call volume drastically increases." (Dumas, 10/31)
And on Medicare enrollment —
Axios: Medicare Expands Special Enrollment Periods For Extenuating Circumstances
People who miss Medicare's open enrollment next year because of extenuating circumstances will get a special sign-up period to ensure continuous coverage under a rule finalized Friday. (Goldman, 10/31)
After Roe V. Wade
Investigation Started After Missouri Hospital Blocked Emergency Abortion
A Missouri hospital that refused a woman a medical abortion because of the state's ban on the procedure is under investigation by the state's health agency to determine if federal law was broken. In other abortion news, the FDA has concerns over mifepristone prescriptions.
AP: Missouri Investigates Hospital Denial Of Emergency Abortion
Missouri’s health department is investigating whether a hospital violated federal health care rules in denying a woman an emergency abortion, an agency spokeswoman confirmed Monday. Missouri Health and Senior Services spokeswoman Lisa Cox in a statement said the agency launched an investigation into southern Missouri’s Freeman Health System’s treatment of Mylissa Farmer. (Ballentine and Ungar, 10/31)
The Kansas City Star: MO Health Department Investigating Hospital Where Woman Denied Abortion
Lisa Cox, a spokesperson for DHSS, said in an email Monday that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services authorized the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act investigation of the hospital on Oct. 20. Cox confirmed the investigation was of the hospital and not the woman. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a 1986 federal law, prohibits hospitals with emergency departments from refusing to treat people with an emergency medical condition. (Bayless, 10/31)
Missouri Independent: Missouri Investigates Hospital After Patient Criticizes Schmitt 
Missouri House Democratic leader Crystal Quade on Friday demanded to know why a state agency is investigating a southwest Missouri hospital that treated a woman featured in an ad attacking Attorney General Eric Schmitt over state abortion laws. (Keller, 10/31)
Politico: FDA Says Providers Offering Medication Abortion Before Pregnancy Have Gone Rogue
The FDA said health providers prescribing abortion medication to people who aren’t pregnant are acting without its authorization and that the practice is potentially dangerous for patients. “The FDA is concerned about the advance prescribing of mifepristone for this use,” an FDA spokesperson granted anonymity to describe sensitive agency policies told POLITICO on Friday. “Mifepristone is not approved for advance provision of a medical abortion.” (Leonard, 10/31)
AP: Judge Keeps North Dakota Abortion Ban From Taking Effect
A North Dakota judge ruled Monday that he will keep the state’s ban on abortion from taking effect, saying there’s a “substantial probability” that a constitutional challenge to the law will succeed. Judge Bruce Romanick’s ruling means abortion is still legal in North Dakota, though the state’s only clinic — the Red River Women’s Clinic of Fargo — shut down as it challenged the ban and has moved across the border to neighboring Minnesota. (MacPherson and Kolpak, 10/31)
The 19th: Abortion Bans Dimimish Access To Care For Miscarriages, Ectopic Pregnancies
Major medical groups say that the loss of federal abortion protections has diminished access to pregnancy care such as treatment for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. The groups are sounding the alarm that racial gaps in pregnancy-related deaths will be exacerbated, according to a new Senate report first shared with The 19th. … The report was compiled by four Democratic senators: Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Tina Smith of Minnesota. It contains responses to letters Warren sent to the American Medical Association, National Nurses United, the American Pharmacists Association, the American Hospital Association, and Physicians for Reproductive Health, asking them to track how the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision has affected access to pregnancy-related care. The report also cites a public letter from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Luthra, 11/1)
NBC News: Abortion Bans Impact Latinas The Most Among Women Of Color
Latinas are the largest group of women of color affected by current and future state abortion bans and restrictions: More than 4 in 10 Latinas of reproductive age live in the nearly two dozen states where officials are working to make abortion inaccessible. A new analysis from the National Partnership for Women & Families and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, first shared with NBC News, found that close to 6.5 million Latinas (42% of all Latinas ages 15-49) live in 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortions after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade this summer. (Acevedo, 11/1)
Ballot Measure On Abortion Stirs Passions In Michigan
The high-stakes issue has brought in millions of dollars in campaign contributions on both sides. Abortion is also on the ballot in Kentucky and California.
The Guardian: ‘This Is A Blueprint’: Abortion Rights Ballot Proposal Takes Off In Michigan
The campaign to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution was already under way here even before Roe fell, and it has become an embittered battle in Michigan – to keep a 90-year-old abortion ban off the books. Campaigners fear that ban would criminalise doctors and pregnant people and deny essential medical care, such as miscarriage medication, now that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists in the US. (Noor, 10/31)
Politico: Michigan Abortion-Rights Battle Rakes In Cash Ahead Of Referendum
Roughly $57 million poured into Michigan’s high stakes contest for abortion rights during the last quarter, more money than the races for governor, attorney general and secretary of state combined. The campaign supporting the ballot measure, which would codify a right to an abortion in the state constitution, amassed more than $40 million between July and October, according to filings with the Secretary of State’s office. Reproductive Freedom for All, the committee leading the fight, received the bulk of its donations from national progressive advocacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Open Society Foundation and the Sixteen Thirty Fund. (Ollstein, 10/31)
The Guardian: How Michigan’s Abortion Referendum Could Decide Key Congressional Race
Democratic candidate Elissa Slotkin says abortion is a top issues in the state and fear of a ban will motivate voters to re-elect her: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it.’ (Noor, 11/1)
AP: Kentucky Voters Asked Whether There's A Right To An Abortion
Kentucky voters are being asked to decide whether to amend the state constitution to declare outright that it doesn’t protect the right to an abortion. The question reads: “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” (Schreiner, 11/1)
USA Today: Abortion Policy Is Major Issue In Midterms. Where Are Progressive Men?
Many men are, of course, affected by pregnancy, with some becoming unwilling fathers forced to pay for a child's care and others seeing their priorities shift as a result of unplanned fatherhood. But for some male voters, there’s a lack of understanding about what abortion and the right to it entails or a feeling of detachment about what often is labeled a women’s issue, regardless of their political affiliation, activists said. (Keveney, 11/1)
Mississippi Public Broadcasting: Staying Pink: Jackson Women’s Health Organization Is Closed, But 1 Group Continues The Fight
Stay Pink's mission is to keep abortion rights at the front of mind, especially as election day comes closer. Co-creator John Osborne hopes people driving by will see them and ask themselves what they can do to restore abortion rights. (Miller, 10/31)
CalMatters: Would Prop. 1 Allow Abortions After Fetal Viability? Legal Experts Say No
Proposition 1, the Nov. 8 ballot measure that would create an explicit protection for “reproductive freedom” in the California Constitution, is not written to expand abortion access into the final months of pregnancy and, despite warnings from opponents, legal experts say that is a highly unlikely outcome if it passes. The simple yet sweeping language of the measure — “the state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions” — has been a source of contention, even among some supporters of abortion rights, since it was introduced this summer. (Koseff, 10/31)
Houston Chronicle: O'Rourke Releases New Ad Targeting Abbott On Abortion
Going into the final week of early voting, Democrat Beto O’Rourke is once again trying to make the case that Gov. Greg Abbott went too far when he signed an abortion ban in Texas that has almost no exceptions. In a 60-second ad that will start later today, O’Rourke features Amanda and Josh Zurawski of Austin who explain that when she was 18 weeks pregnant, she had complications that led to a miscarriage. But because of the state’s abortion laws, Amanda said doctors told her they couldn’t do anything to help her until the miscarriage happened or that her life was at risk. (Wallace, 10/31)
Reuters: Fact Check-Fabricated Jill Biden Quote On Abortion Circulates Online
A fabricated quote attributed to U.S. first lady Jill Biden has been circulating online. The posts claim that she said she would have been fine with her mother’s decision to abort her. A spokesperson for the first lady told Reuters that the quote was not authentic. (10/31)
Medicare, Pot, Transgender Care Among Issues Shaping Midterms
In the final campaign days, abortion is not the only health care issue that candidates are focusing on to sway voters. The future of Medicare, transgender health care, and marijuana are among others that could determine congressional balance of power.
The Hill: Why The Fate Of Medicare And Social Security Is A Midterm Issue
The fate of Social Security and Medicare is back in the spotlight less than two weeks before the midterms. The White House and Democrats have made both entitlements central to their closing pitch to voters, sounding the alarm that a Republican majority in the House would look to cut programs that millions of Americans rely on in a bid to reduce spending. (Samuels, 10/31)
Stat: If Republicans Take Congressional Control, Science Is On The Line
In this year’s midterms, the future of federal science policy is in Republicans’ crosshairs. Some of the most vocal critics of scientists and science agencies like the NIH and the CDC, including Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, are poised to ascend to powerful committee chairmanships that will enable them to conduct sweeping investigations and put health officials on public trial. (Owermohle and Cohrs, 11/1)
Scientific American: The Most Urgent Science, Health And Climate Issues In The 2022 Midterm Elections
Yet again, the stakes going into U.S. Election Day are soberingly high—and the results at all levels of government will have lasting ramifications for millions of human lives on issues ranging from abortion access to the climate emergency. (Thompson, Lewis and Bushwick, 11/1)
Axios: Arizona Tests A Progressive Take On Medical Debt Relief
An Arizona ballot initiative addressing medical debt collection could provide an important test next week of whether a populist progressive approach to health care costs can fly in conservative-led states. (Reed, 10/31)
NPR: Voters Decide Pot In Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maryland
Voters in five states, including four that are among the most conservative in the country, are deciding on whether to legalize recreational marijuana this election. If passed in each state, Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota would join 19 other states and the District of Columbia where cannabis has already been legalized for personal use. (Westervelt, 10/31)
Politifact: Rick Scott Repeats False Claim That Democrats Cut $280 Billion From Medicare
Under a bill that all Senate Democrats voted for and that President Joe Biden signed into law, Medicare was permitted for the first time to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers. On the government’s budget scorecard, this is projected to save between $237 billion and $288 billion in federal outlays. But that reduction wouldn’t represent cuts to Medicare beneficiaries. Rather, by leveraging Medicare’s market power, the government would be able to pay less for certain prescription drugs, thus preserving the same level of benefits for less money. (Jacobson, 10/31)
The New York Times: Inflammatory Radio Ads From 2 Trump-Aligned Groups Are Airing In Battleground States
One of the biggest radio ad blitzes in the final stretch of the midterm elections is a provocative package of advertisements aimed at deepening cultural divides over transgender care for children and racial tensions. Financed by two groups run by former Trump administration officials, the ads have been placed with Black and Hispanic radio stations, along with conservative talk radio stations. (Bender, 11/1)
NPR: Tennessee Offers A Window Into The Political Fight Over Trans Health Care
Transgender kids have found themselves at the center of a ballooning culture war this election season. In several cities and states — from Boston to Seattle — specialized clinics at academic medical centers have been targeted. Doctors have been harassed, despite following the evolving standards of care for trans teens. Last month, hundreds of conservatives and anti-trans activists gathered outside the Tennessee Capitol for what they billed as "The Rally to End Child Mutilation." Over shouts of counter protesters, state lawmakers vowed to ban gender-affirming surgeries in Tennessee, claiming families were rushing into life-altering and irreversible decisions. (Farmer, 11/1)
Outbreaks and Health Threats
Pfizer Says Its Maternal RSV Vaccine Protects Infants Post-Birth
Pfizer announced that if its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine is administered during pregnancy, it acts to protect newborn babies from severe symptoms for six months. It's set to apply for approval for the drug soon. More stories about surging RSV, and the promise of vaccines are also reported.
The Washington Post: Pfizer’s RSV Vaccine, Given During Pregnancy, Protects Infants From Severe Illness
Pfizer announced Tuesday that its maternal RSV vaccine, given during pregnancy, protected infants from developing severe symptoms during the first six months after birth — a critical window of vulnerability. The company plans to apply for approval of the vaccine before year’s end, with the hope that the shot could be the first vaccine to help protect infants against RSV — respiratory syncytial virus — as soon as next winter. (Johnson, 11/1)
CNN: New RSV Vaccines May Soon Put An End To Rough Seasons
There’s also hope around a promising long-acting injection designed to be given right after birth to protect infants from the virus for as long as six months. In a recent clinical trial, the antibody shot was 75% effective at heading off RSV infections that required medical attention. Experts say the therapies look so promising, they could end bad RSV seasons as we know them. And the relief could come soon: Dr. Ashish Jha, who leads the White House Covid-19 Response Task Force, told CNN that he’s “hopeful” there will be an RSV vaccine by next fall. (Goodman, 10/31)
Politico Pro: RSV Surge Casts Focus On Vaccine Pipeline
The increase in RSV cases casts attention on a handful of drugmakers with vaccines and therapies in development, but the first ones likely to become available will be for the elderly and pregnant people. Pfizer has said it plans to file an application to the FDA in the fall, and GSK expects to file for approvals by the end of the year. But RSV vaccines for children are unlikely to be available in the near term. (Gardner and Foley, 10/31)
In other pediatric health news —
Stat: Polio-Like Syndrome In Kids Seems Not To Flare, Adding To Mystery
Physicians who treat children with acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, had been steeling themselves this fall for an onslaught of cases. (Branswell, 10/31)
On pneumonia vaccines —
The Wall Street Journal: Drugmakers Fight Over Lucrative Pneumonia Vaccines
Rival drugmakers are seeking to upend Pfizer Inc.’s dominance of the $7 billion worldwide market for pneumonia vaccines, launching what is shaping up to be one of the industry’s fiercest battles. Merck & Co. has already introduced a new competitor to Pfizer’s Prevnar vaccine franchise, while GSK PLC and Vaxcyte Inc. are among companies developing shots that aim to win sales by protecting against even more strains of the pneumonia virus. (Hopkins, 10/31)
Covid-19 Crisis
Suffering Severe Covid Linked To Higher Long Covid Risk: Study
CIDRAP reports the results of a large study that links experiencing worse covid symptoms to risk of subsequent long covid problems. Meanwhile, a CNBC piece covers data showing long covid is affecting more women than men. Also, the CDC director has again tested positive for covid.
CIDRAP: More Severe COVID-19 May Raise Risk Of Long COVID
A large study released today suggests that people who experience worse COVID-19 symptoms may be more likely to subsequently develop notable symptoms 12 weeks or more after the initial infection. Also, most patients went on to have long COVID, regardless of the severity of their original illness. (Soucheray, 10/31)
CNBC: Long Covid Is Affecting Women More Than Men, National Survey Finds
Long Covid is more common among women than men, according to federal data. More than 17% of women have had long Covid at some point during the pandemic, compared with 11% of men, according to data from U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics published this month. (Kimball, 10/31)
AP: CDC Director Tests Positive For COVID Again
The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tested positive again for COVID-19. Dr. Rochelle Walensky had mild symptoms Sunday and is isolating at her home in Massachusetts, the CDC said Monday. Walensky, 53, first tested positive on Oct. 21. She took a course of the antiviral pill Paxlovid, and later tested negative. But the symptoms returned and Walensky is again in isolation, working and holding virtual meetings, the CDC said. (Stobbe, 10/31)
The Washington Post: Covid Uses Our Proteins Against Us. A New Strategy Seeks To Block That
With the United States headed into its third full winter of the pandemic amid fears that new variants will evade immunity from vaccines and prior infections, some scientists are seeking ways to blunt the coronavirus’s slippery evolution by blocking the human proteins it uses against us. If the strategy works, it has the potential to address several shortcomings of current treatments and vaccines, including their inability to prevent infections and maintain effectiveness in the face of a changing virus. (Johnson, 10/31)
Nature: Could A Nose Spray A Day Keep COVID Away?
During the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anne Moscona didn’t feel safe going to a restaurant or catching a flight. And she wished she could feel confident that she could see her immunocompromised relatives without inadvertently spreading the novel coronavirus to them. All this made her work personal: for the last decade, Moscona, a molecular virologist, had been hunting for compounds that could stop viruses in their tracks, before the pathogens infect even a single cell in a person’s body. Now Moscona, at Columbia University in New York City, and her colleagues have homed in on a compound that might foil SARS-CoV-2. Even better, it’s simply sprayed up the nose — no needle required. (Kozlov, 10/31)
Stat: Why Inaccuracies With Pulse Oximeters Were Ignored For So Long
A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee Tuesday will take up the issue of whether pulse oximeters, the ubiquitous medical devices that became a mainstay for assessing patient oxygen levels during the Covid-19 pandemic, need to be regulated differently — or even completely reconceived — based on research showing the devices are less accurate in people with darker skin. (McFarling, 11/1)
CIDRAP: Pandemic Didn't Change Infant Nerve Development, Study Finds
A meta-analysis of eight studies finds that the risk of overall infant neurodevelopment didn't change during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic but that those with gestational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 were at higher risk for impaired communication and fine motor skills. (Van Beusekom, 10/31)
The New York Times: The Pandemic Generation Goes To College. It Has Not Been Easy. 
Colleges are now educating their first waves of students who experienced pandemic learning loss in high school. What they are seeing is sobering, especially because the latest dismal results from the national exam of fourth and eighth graders suggest that they could face year after year of incoming students struggling to catch up. … In interviews across the country, undergraduates discussed how their disjointed high school experiences have trailed them in their first years of college; some professors talked about how grades are down, as well as standards. Many students are tentative and anxious. (Fawcett, 11/1)
Medicare To Increase Payments For Home Health Care
Federal officials backed off of a plan to reduce reimbursements. They also announced a boost for dialysis treatments. KHN also reports on the penalties leveled against hospitals for having high rates of readmissions.
Modern Healthcare: Home Health Provider Medicare Pay To Rise
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has tossed a plan to reduce home health reimbursements by $810 million next year and will give providers a 0.7% pay increase that amounts to $125 million. CMS published on Monday the final rule setting Medicare fees for home health services next year. Home health industry groups strenuously objected to the proposed cuts and threatened to sue if CMS carried them out. (Kacik, 10/31)
Axios: Home Health Providers Get Reprieve From Medicare Cuts
The $125 million increase announced Monday is a reprieve of sorts after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed an $810 million cut in June. Providers hinted at legal action following the proposal. Instead, reductions will be phased in over two years, spreading out the pain for a health sector that's grappled with staffing shortages and rising costs. (Goldman, 11/1)
Modern Healthcare: CMS Increases ESRD Facilities 2023 Payment
Dialysis providers will receive a 3.1% pay increase from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2023, the agency announced in a final rule issued Monday. CMS will hike the base rate paid for dialysis services by $7.67 to $265.57. Hospital-based end-stage renal disease providers will receive an estimated 3.1% increase in payments and freestanding facilities will receive 3%, according to CMS. Come 2023, the agency will also permanently bar ESRD facilities from decreasing workers’ wages by more than 5% annually, regardless of the circumstances causing the decline, according to the rule. (Tepper, 10/31)
The latest readmission penalties are out —
KHN: Medicare Fines For High Hospital Readmissions Drop, But 2,300 Facilities Are Still Penalized
Federal officials said they are penalizing 2,273 hospitals, the fewest since the fiscal year that ended in September 2014. Driving the decline was a change in the formula to compensate for the chaos caused by the covid-19 pandemic. (Rau, 11/1)
KHN: Look Up Your Hospital: Is It Being Penalized By Medicare?
Each year, Medicare punishes hospitals that have high rates of readmissions and high rates of infections and patient injuries. Check out which hospitals have been penalized. (10/31)
And in news about Medicaid —
The Colorado Sun: More Than 200,000 Colorado Kids Could Lose Medicaid Coverage Starting Next Year, Though Many Remain Eligible For Government Help
Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans who rely on government-subsidized health insurance programs could lose coverage beginning next year, many of them children whose families otherwise can’t afford the checkups, vaccines and preventive care kids need in their earliest years. It’s a problem bearing down on families across the country with the federal public health emergency set to expire Jan. 11. (Breunlin, 11/1)
Study Shines Light On Drug, Devicemaker Payments To Health Providers
A slightly greater proportion of advanced practice clinicians accept payments from drug and device makers compared with physicians, a "first of its kind" study finds. Modern Healthcare, meanwhile, reports on how specialty pharmacies boost health systems' efficiency.
Stat: More Advanced Practice Clinicians Take Drug, Device Payments
A slightly larger share of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other advanced practice clinicians accept payments from drug and device makers compared with physicians, a first-of-its-kind study found. Of all the advanced practice clinicians working in the U.S. in 2021, 36% accepted payments from industry, compared with 35% of physicians, according to new findings released Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Previous studies have looked at industry payments to doctors and showed how they influence prescribing, but this is the first to look specifically at U.S. payments to this group of providers, which includes those with post-graduate training and the ability to diagnose illnesses and prescribe drugs. (Bannow, 10/31)
Modern Healthcare: Specialty Pharmacies Boost Efficiency, Profits For Health Systems
In-house specialty pharmacy services are gaining popularity among hospitals and health systems seeking to drive efficiency in their operations and improve profitability. Most of the new treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the last several years have been specialty drugs, high-cost treatments used for complex conditions. Since early 2021, the FDA has approved close to 80 specialty drugs that treat conditions ranging from plaque psoriasis to metastatic melanoma. (Hudson, 10/31)
From the FDA —
Bloomberg Law: FDA Updates Human Cell, Tissue Guidance For Hospitals, Labs
Hospitals can bypass the FDA’s cell and gene therapy requirements if they’re only using them for non-clinical, scientific, or educational purposes or are performing bone marrow transplants or similar surgeries without sharing or distributing them. The Food and Drug Administration issued a final guidance document Monday that aims to help small entities comply with the agency’s regulation of human cellular and tissue-based products, or HCT/Ps. (Baumann, 10/31)
USA Today: Fact Check: No, FDA Won't Be Approving Dietary Supplements
A Senate bill would require greater transparency in dietary supplement manufacturing. It wouldn't affect the FDA's authority over products. (Hudnall, 10/31)
In other drug news —
KHN: What Looks Like Pot, Acts Like Pot, But Is Legal Nearly Everywhere? Meet Hemp-Derived Delta-9 THC
The 2018 farm bill that legalized hemp created a loophole for an unregulated copycat of marijuana. A form of delta-9 THC — the psychoactive substance in pot — doesn’t face the same laws and regulations as marijuana because it comes from hemp. The drug is poised to upend the cannabis industry. (Berger, 11/1)
NPR: How Concerns Over Rainbow Fentanyl Became This Year's Halloween's Monster
Forget horror movies, haunted houses or decorations that seem a little too realistic. For many, paranoia around drug-laced candy can make trick-or-treating the ultimate scare. "We've pretty much stopped believing in ghosts and goblins, but we believe in criminals," said Joel Best, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware. "We tell each other scary stories about Halloween criminals and it resonates. It takes the underlying cultural message of the holiday — spooky stuff — and links it to contemporary fears." (Heyward, 10/31)
Health Industry
Atlanta Medical Center Shuts; Closed Houston Hospital To Be Reborn
Monday night saw the end of operations for the Atlanta Medical Center, where care was offered to city residents for over a century. Meanwhile shuttered Riverside General Hospital in Houston is set to be reborn as a safety-net health services hub.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Atlanta Medical Center’s Final Goodbye
In the final hours of operation Monday for downtown’s Atlanta Medical Center, preparations were made to finalize the hospital’s closure at midnight and activity around the hospital seemed to be almost at a standstill. Tuesday will be the first day in over 100 years that patients have not been able to come to the location for help and treatment. (Thomas, 11/1)
Houston Chronicle: Once A Lifeline For Third Ward, Shuttered Riverside Hospital To Return As Health Care Hub
The long-planned revitalization of Riverside General Hospital will transform the historic Third Ward site into a hub for safety-net health care services, such as violence prevention, behavioral health and Black maternal health, Harris County officials announced Monday. Before the hospital became embroiled in controversy and shuttered in 2015, Riverside was a critical resource in a community that lacks sufficient health care coverage. Its network of four campuses across the city had become one of area’s the largest providers of mental health services and substance abuse treatment. (Gill, 10/31)
Stat: More Advanced Practice Clinicians Take Drug, Device Payments
A slightly larger share of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other advanced practice clinicians accept payments from drug and device makers compared with physicians, a first-of-its-kind study found. (Bannow, 10/31)
Chicago Tribune: Advocate Hospital System Sued Over Data Breach
An Illinois man is suing Advocate Aurora Health and Facebook after the hospital system disclosed that it may have exposed the information of as many as 3 million patients who use its online patient portals and other tools. (Schencker, 10/31)
The Colorado Sun: Children’s Hospital Is Treating Social-Economic Wellness
The garden at Children’s Hospital Colorado was overflowing with chard, which is how Brenda Flores ended up taking some of the dark-green leaves home and sauteing them for her two kids for the first time. “It was like a weird vegetable,” Flores said, taking a minute to recall the word chard, or acelgas in Spanish. But they liked it. (Brown, 10/31)
Stat: Private Equity’s Welsh Carson, Casting Itself As A Noble Force, Relentlessly Pursues Profits In Health Care
Welsh Carson paints itself as nobler than other private equity firms. A STAT special report reveals a relentless pursuit of profits. (Bannow and Herman, 10/31)
Science And Innovations
Dementia Now Affecting 10% Of Americans Over 65
A new study into cognitive issues in older Americans has updated a 20-year-old estimate of the scope of the situation, the Washington Post reports. It also notes that 1 in 5 adults over 65 has cognitive difficulties. Separately, more data on functionality of transplanted pig hearts is in the news.
The Washington Post: One In 10 Older Adults In U.S. Has Dementia, Research Suggests
One in 10 U.S. adults over 65 has dementia, a study suggests, while 1 in 5 has cognitive difficulties. Published Oct. 24 in JAMA Neurology, the research updates 20-year-old estimates of the number of older Americans with dementia and mild cognitive impairment. (Blakemore, 10/31)
The Wall Street Journal: Pig’s Heart Took Longer To Generate A Beat In Transplant Patient
A genetically modified pig heart transplanted into a severely ill person took longer to generate a heartbeat than those of typical pig or human hearts, research showed, another potential challenge for doctors aiming to conduct clinical trials of pig-organ transplants. (Dockser Marcus, 10/31)
The New York Times: Cholera Outbreaks Surge Worldwide As Vaccine Supply Drains
A record number of cholera outbreaks around the globe, driven by droughts, floods and armed conflicts, has sickened hundreds of thousands of people and so severely strained the supply of cholera vaccines that global health agencies are rationing doses. (Nolen, 10/31)
The Washington Post: A New Tool To Help Prevent Malaria Shows Promise: Antibody Drugs
A single dose of an antibody drug provided strong protection against malaria infections during the six-month rainy season in Mali, an international team of researchers announced Monday. The promising result, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, lays the groundwork for a new tool to help defeat a parasitic disease that last year killed more than 600,000 people — mostly children. (Johnson, 10/31)
Axios: Experts: Anesthesia Use Disparities Could Negatively Impact Black Maternal Health
New research showing racial disparities in regional anesthesia use has major implications for Black women — especially in pregnancy and childbirth, medical experts and reproductive health advocates tell Axios. Black women have a long history of experiencing medical maltreatment, the legacy of which remains today in implicit biases and systemic inequities that worsen health outcomes. They are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications compared to white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Chen, 11/1)
CNN: Drinking Caffeine While Pregnant Impacts Child's Height: Study
Starting the day with a hot cup of caffeinated coffee or tea may sound divine to some, but it could have negative impacts for the children of people who are pregnant, according to a new study. Children who were exposed to small amounts of caffeine before birth were found on average to be shorter than the children of people who did not consume caffeine while pregnant, according to the study published Monday in JAMA Network Open. (Holcombe, 10/31)
Editorials And Opinions
Viewpoints: Long Covid Patients Feel Ignored; Overturning Roe Has Far Reaching Consequences
Editorial writers delve into long covid, reproductive rights, veteran health care, and gender dysphoria.
The Tennessean: COVID Long-Haulers Need Help To Be Invisible No More
We live amongst you, yet you choose not to see us. We are the casualties of the war with COVID-19; a reminder that the pandemic is not over, and that it has left many people with the debilitating illness of long COVID. (Tamara Marshall Whiting, 10/31)
USA Today: Abortion Bans Pave Way For Birth Control, Marriage Restrictions
As it stands today, 1 in 3 women have lost abortion access as a result of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated a woman's constitutional right to abortion first granted under Roe v. Wade and then upheld in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. (Carli Pierson, 10/31)
Newsweek: One Simple Step For The VA To Relieve Veterans' Pain, Cut Wait Times 
While we served on opposite sides of the aisle during many contentious debates in the U.S. Senate, we have also come together to speak out on issues of bipartisan national importance. One is that our veterans deserve the best health care our nation can provide—and the Department of Veterans Affairs can do more to make that a reality. (Tom Daschle and Trent Lott, 11/1)
The Tennessean: Don't Make Hospitals Treating Gender Dysphoria Political Battlegrounds
Several Tennessee officials recently joined forces regarding claims that VUMC’s does genital reassignment surgeries on young children without parental consent, a claim the hospital says is untrue. (Anna Caudill, 10/31)
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