- KFF Health News Original Stories 5
- Skin Cancer Is a Risk No Matter the Skin Tone. But It May Be Overlooked in People With Dark Skin.
- Cognitive Rehab May Help Older Adults Clear Covid-Related Brain Fog
- A GOP Talking Point Suggests Birth Control Is Not at Risk. Evidence Suggests Otherwise.
- In California, Abortion Could Become a Constitutional Right. So Could Birth Control.
- KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Kansas Makes a Statement
- Political Cartoon: 'B Mine Transplant'
- Outbreaks and Health Threats 2
- World's Worst Outbreak: Monkeypox Now A Public Health Emergency In US
- FDA Weighs 'Dose Sparing' To Increase Monkeypox Vaccine Capacity
- After Roe V. Wade 1
- GOP Abortion Rift Again On Display As Indiana House Votes To Keep Rape Exception
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
KFF Health News Original Stories
Skin Cancer Is a Risk No Matter the Skin Tone. But It May Be Overlooked in People With Dark Skin.
Black people and those with high levels of melanin in their skin have long been left out of efforts to combat skin cancer. Historically neglected both by sunscreen manufacturers and a medical community lagging in diversity and cultural competency, many people with dark skin tones have not been informed about sun safety or how to monitor their skin for damage or cancer. (Sandy West, )
Cognitive Rehab May Help Older Adults Clear Covid-Related Brain Fog
People whose brains have been injured by concussions, traumatic accidents, strokes, or neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease can benefit from targeted therapy. Experts also employ therapies for long-covid patients with memory and language problems. (Judith Graham, )
A GOP Talking Point Suggests Birth Control Is Not at Risk. Evidence Suggests Otherwise.
Republicans say Democrats are wrong to claim that birth control could be the Supreme Court’s next target. But Democrats have plenty of evidence that it might be. (Julie Rovner, )
In California, Abortion Could Become a Constitutional Right. So Could Birth Control.
Proposition 1, the constitutional amendment that would enshrine abortion in California’s constitution, would also lock in a right that has gotten less attention: the right to “choose or refuse” contraception. (Rachel Bluth, )
KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Kansas Makes a Statement
In the first official test vote since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, voters in Kansas’ primary said in no uncertain terms they want to keep a right to abortion in their state constitution. Meanwhile, the Senate is still working to reach a vote before summer recess on its health care-climate-tax measure, but progress is slow. Tami Luhby of CNN, Sandhya Raman of CQ Roll Call, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews KHN’s Bram Sable-Smith, who wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” installment about a very expensive ambulance trip. ( )
Political Cartoon: 'B Mine Transplant'
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'B Mine Transplant'" by Dave Coverly.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
MISINFORMATION AND MONKEYPOX MYTHS
Rodents, not monkeys.
Misinformation must stop!
Let's get this one right!
- Micki Jackson
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 an original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KFF Health News or KFF.
KHN is now on TikTok! Watch our videos and follow along here as we break down health care headlines and policy.
Summaries Of The News:
World's Worst Outbreak: Monkeypox Now A Public Health Emergency In US
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky says the emergency declaration will enable it to put more boots on the ground to help with outreach, adding that more than 50 jurisdictions have agreed to provide monkeypox-vaccine data that the CDC lacks.
The New York Times:
As Monkeypox Spreads, U.S. Declares A Health Emergency
The Biden administration on Thursday declared the growing monkeypox outbreak a national health emergency, a rare designation signaling that the virus now represents a significant risk to Americans and setting in motion new measures aimed at containing the threat. The declaration by Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s health secretary, marks just the fifth such national emergency since 2001. (Stolberg and Mandavilli, 8/4)
The Wall Street Journal:
Biden Officials Declare Monkeypox A Public-Health Emergency
The public-health emergency would ramp up coordination across federal agencies, increase communication with states and localities and help the administration develop new strategies to distribute vaccines and treatments, said Robert Fenton, the White House’s national monkeypox response coordinator. It will also make it easier for public-health agencies to get information from various jurisdictions. Mr. Fenton said testing capacity has expanded from 6,000 tests a week to 80,000 tests a week. (Mosbergen, Armour and Whyte, 8/4)
US Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency
In other news, an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine today asks officials to consider clinical trials of tecovirimat (Tpoxx)—an antiviral drug approved for treating smallpox—to test for efficacy against monkeypox. Scientists from the FDA, CDC, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases asked for the drug to be tested under the FDA's Animal Rule. (Soucheray, 8/4)
In related news —
Monkeypox Outbreak In US Now World's Biggest After COVID-Like Mistakes
Monkeypox was supposed to be different ... Yet the United States now has the world's biggest outbreak of monkeypox: More than 6,600 Americans have been diagnosed since mid-May. Rarely seen outside Africa before the spring, the virus, a less deadly cousin of smallpox, has now triggered a 26,000-person global emergency, reaching 83 countries, 76 of which had not historically seen the disease. (Weintraub, 8/4)
FDA Weighs 'Dose Sparing' To Increase Monkeypox Vaccine Capacity
The technique involves splitting a single vial of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine into five smaller doses and would slightly change the way it is administered. FDA chief Robert Califf says, "It’s important to note that overall safety and efficacy profile will not be sacrificed with this approach.”
FDA Considering Dividing Jynneos Doses Into Fifths To Increase Vaccine Supply
The Biden administration is considering splitting doses of the smallpox vaccine, which are being used to prevent monkeypox amid the current outbreak, into five smaller doses, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday. (Choi, 8/4)
Updates on the spread of monkeypox —
The Washington Post:
Monkeypox Spreads To D.C. Homeless
Monkeypox has spread to D.C.’s homeless population, with two confirmed cases, as the city launches weekly walk-up vaccination clinics in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. (Portnoy, 8/4)
Houston To Test For Monkeypox Through Wastewater
Houston will begin monitoring its wastewater for monkeypox in late August as cases of the blister-causing contagion continue to climb, health officials said. Scientists will begin testing for the monkeypox virus in city sewage samples “starting in about three weeks,” Houston Health Department spokesperson Porfirio Villarreal said Thursday morning. (Mishanec, 8/4)
The Washington Post:
As Monkeypox Strikes Gay Men, Officials Debate Warnings To Limit Partners
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weighs whether to recommend limiting sex partners, health officials in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and other U.S. cities battling surges disproportionately sickening gay men are avoiding calls for sexual restraint, wary of further stigmatizing same-sex intimacy. (Nirappil and Jayakumar, 8/4)
Most Of Africa’s Monkeypox Cases Are From Household Transmission: WHO
The rise of monkeypox cases in Africa, the only continent where the infectious disease is endemic, is coming from household transmission rather than primarily from men who have sex with men, according to the World Health Organization. (Kew, 8/4)
Marietta Woman Goes Public With Her Fight Against Monkeypox
A Marietta mother had never heard of monkeypox until she said she went to the hospital seeking answers to why she was feeling poorly. There, Camille Seaton learned that the painful, fluid-filled lesions on her face, which also eventually spread to her body was monkeypox. (Poole, 8/4)
The New York Times:
A Stranger Filmed Her On The Train. TikTok Users Decided She Had Monkeypox.
Lilly Simon, a 33-year-old in Brooklyn, does not have monkeypox. She does have neurofibromatosis type 1, a genetic condition that causes tumors to grow at her nerve endings. Those tumors were filmed surreptitiously by a TikTok user while Ms. Simon was riding the subway on a Thursday in late July during her commute. (Kircher, 8/4)
Health And Climate Bill Clears Big Hurdle With Sinema's Backing Secured
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, announced her support for the spending package after some tax-related and drought funding measures were added. The final bill will be introduced Saturday. News outlets also explore the impact the legislation could have on drug pricing.
Sinema Will Move Forward With Senate Democrats' Climate, Health And Tax Bill
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced late Thursday she will "move forward" with Democrats' massive climate, prescription drug and spending bill, after Democrats appeared to reach an agreement about Sinema's concerns with the legislation. Sinema's announcement all but locks in the bill for Democrats, who need all 50 Democratic votes on board in order for the bill to pass, with a tie-breaker vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. The legislation solidifies key portions of President Biden's domestic agenda. (Shivaram, 8/4)
Sinema Signs Onto Dems' Party-Line Bill Ahead Of Momentous Saturday Vote
Earlier in the day, Schumer said the chamber would take Friday off as he works to clarify a murky timeline for passing Democrats’ bill, which still faces multiple outstanding issues. Schumer also warned on Thursday of “some late nights and extended debates” as he vowed to pass the legislation in the “coming days.” There’s still more uncertainty to button up in those days. Democrats and Republicans will continue arguing into Friday about what can be included in the bill. But Sinema’s commitment to the package removes a major question mark ahead of an unlimited “vote-a-rama” on amendments. (Everett and Levine, 8/4)
Industry group PhRMA threatens retaliation —
Pharma Group Leader Says Dems Who Vote For Reconciliation Bill 'Won't Get A Free Pass'
Steve Ubl, who leads the nation’s top industry group for drugmakers, is offering a final salvo to Congress as Democratic lawmakers inch closer to passing their sweeping reconciliation package that includes drug pricing measures — and threatening swift retaliation if they don’t listen, he told POLITICO. Ubl’s group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, and its 31 board members sent a letter to every member of Congress on Thursday afternoon, urging them to vote against the package. (Wilson, 8/4)
In related news about drug costs —
Democrats' Drug Pricing Bill Could Lead To Higher Launch Prices
Democrats' party-line drug pricing legislation will likely cause manufacturers to raise the launch prices of new drugs, the Congressional Budget Office projected yesterday. (Owens, 8/5)
Heart Medications Can Be A Huge Financial Strain, But The Reconciliation Bill Could Help
A key provision in the Senate Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill that caps out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs for Medicare recipients at $2,000 per year could be a lifeline for millions of older adults struggling to pay for heart medications. (Lovelace Jr., 8/5)
Why Is Insulin So Expensive And Difficult To Cap?
Reining in the soaring prices of insulin has thus far been elusive in Congress, although Democrats say they’ll try again — as part of their economic package that focuses on health and climate. The price of the 100-year-old drug has more than tripled in the last two decades, forcing the nation’s diabetics to pay thousands of dollars a year for the life-saving medication. Democrats are considering capping the cost of that drug for at least some, although it’s unclear what the final proposal will look like and how many insulin users will get a price break. (Seitz, 8/5)
Increased Healthcare Costs Cause Americans To Cut Spending In Other Ways
Gas and groceries aren’t the only necessities costing more these days. In an effort to accommodate higher health care costs, Americans have been delaying or skipping treatments altogether. According to a new survey from West Health and Gallup, 38% of Americans, or roughly 98 million people, cut back on food, gas, utilities, and other costs to pay for health care expenses in the past six months. The poll, which was conducted in June 2022 when inflation reached a 40-year high of 9.1%, included 3,001 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia as part of the Gallup panel. (Payton, 8/4)
GOP Abortion Rift Again On Display As Indiana House Votes To Keep Rape Exception
The Republican-dominated House voted 61-39 to defeat an amendment to its abortion bill that would have removed exceptions for rape or incest. This follows a similar outcome last week in the state senate. Meanwhile in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has launched a fight against a Democratic prosecutor who has said he will refuse to prosecute abortion crimes.
Indiana Lawmakers Vote To Keep Exceptions From Abortion Ban
A deeply divided Indiana House voted Thursday to keep exceptions in cases of rape or incest in a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in the state. The Republican-dominated House voted 61-39 to defeat an amendment that would have removed those exceptions, with a majority of GOP members wanting their removal. (Rodgers and Davies, 8/4)
Banning Abortions In Clinics Would Reduce Access To Care, Advocates Say
An amendment adopted by a House committee earlier this week would terminate the licensure of abortion clinics, meaning the procedure could only be performed at hospitals and ambulatory outpatient surgical centers owned by hospitals. Currently, 98% of abortions in Indiana take place in abortion clinics. (Herron, 8/5)
Abortion news from Louisiana, Missouri, and Florida —
Louisiana Abortion Providers File Appeal, Hope To Block Ban
Abortion-rights advocates hope Louisiana’s near-total ban of the procedure will soon be blocked again, after plaintiffs in an ongoing legal challenge filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court Thursday. Access to abortion in Louisiana has been back-and-forth for weeks, with the state’s three clinics relying on court rulings and temporary restraining orders to continue operations. (Cline, 8/4)
Missouri Dems Turn To Illinois, Kansas For Abortion Help
A top Democratic state lawmaker from Republican-led Missouri on Wednesday wrote to the Democratic Illinois and Kansas governors asking for help paying for abortions for out-of-state Medicaid patients. Missouri House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade called on Illinois and Kansas to apply for Medicaid waivers to cover abortions for out-of-state patients. (Ballentine, 8/4)
The Washington Post:
DeSantis Suspends Elected Democratic Prosecutor Who Signed Pledge On Abortion Cases
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) suspended the Tampa Bay area’s top state prosecutor Thursday after he vowed not to prosecute potential crimes related to abortion restrictions or gender-affirming care for minors. Legal experts described the decision to suspend Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren (D) as alarming because it appears to be punishing an elected official exercising prosecutorial discretion on issues the governor disagrees with. (Rozsa, 8/4)
A GOP Talking Point Suggests Birth Control Is Not At Risk. Evidence Suggests Otherwise.
Republicans who oppose abortion have new talking points — birth control will remain easily available in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the federal right to abortion, and when Democrats say otherwise, they are just trying to scare voters. Variations on this claim were made by a series of Republicans on the House floor July 21 during debate on a bill that would add a right to contraception to federal law. Democrats advanced the bill as a way to ensure the availability of birth control before some abortion opponents have a chance to see whether the Supreme Court will overturn that right, too. (Rovner, 8/5)
From Massachusetts and California —
The Boston Globe:
With Baker By Her Side, Kamala Harris Makes Case That Abortion Is Not A Partisan Issue
Harris hailed Massachusetts as a “model” for the nation on the issue as Governor Charlie Baker, a pro-abortion rights Republican who later echoed her talking points, sat to her left. “Governor, I appreciate the role, the national leadership that you have provided on this issue,” Harris said to Baker as a phalanx of Democratic lawmakers and other officials flanked her at the IBEW Local 103 headquarters in Dorchester. (Kopan, 8/4)
Los Angeles Times:
Official Proposes Law To Bolster Reproductive Rights In L.A.
Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer is proposing a new law to strengthen reproductive rights and to position the city as a haven for those seeking abortion services. Feuer said the draft legislation would prohibit any pregnancy center from misrepresenting the services it performs. The proposed law would also provide women and others legal recourse if they are misled. (Petri, 8/4)
In California, Abortion Could Become A Constitutional Right. So Could Birth Control.
Californians will decide in November whether to lock the right to abortion into the state constitution. If they vote “yes” on Proposition 1, they will also lock in a right that has gotten less attention: the right to birth control. Should the measure succeed, California would become one of the first states — if not the first — to create explicit constitutional rights to both abortion and contraception. (Bluth, 8/5)
And more on the Kansas abortion vote —
Will Abortion Be On More State Ballots After Kansas Vote?
In Ohio, the Democratic nominee for governor, Nan Whaley, has called for putting an abortion rights measure on the ballot as early as next year, and efforts have started in Colorado and South Dakota for 2024. In Iowa, GOP lawmakers have taken the first step toward putting an anti-abortion measure on the ballot in 2024. (Hanna and Hollingsworth, 8/4)
Could Oklahoma See Abortion Rights Question Following Kansas Vote?
After abortion rights supporters secured a major electoral victory in Kansas on Tuesday, some Oklahomans are wondering if that success could be duplicated closer to home. Abortion rights advocates said the Kansas vote to preserve a constitutional right to abortion will likely spur serious conversations about whether Oklahomans should pursue a state question on the issue. (Forman, 8/4)
Kansas City Star:
How This Kansas Doctor Became Vocal Abortion Rights Advocate
Most physicians never speak publicly about abortion outside of putting their name on a list of supporters — both for and against. Sabrina Markese never thought she’d have to make her private, pro-choice stance known because, well, Roe v. Wade was there. But now it isn’t. (Gutierrez, 8/4)
KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Kansas Makes A Statement
Voters in Kansas told the rest of the country this week that they don’t want their state to ban abortion. In a nearly 60%-40% split, voters turned back an effort by anti-abortion activists to amend the state constitution to remove its right to abortion, which would have allowed the legislature to ban the procedure. (8/4)
After Biden's 'Paxlovid Rebound,' Questions Over Length Of Treatment
The Hill reports that some experts are calling for more urgent research into whether the course of the covid treatment Paxlovid should be lengthened. Additional news on covid is on boosters, air travel, and more.
‘Paxlovid Rebound’ Raises Questions Over How Long Antiviral COVID Treatment Should Last
Some experts have called for studies into extending Paxlovid treatments to be prioritized, as early research has suggested that Paxlovid rebound could occur due to insufficient exposure to the drug. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine said last month that the drug may not be reaching enough infected cells in the allotted time. (Choi, 8/4)
1 Million Courses Of Paxlovid Prescribed In One Month For First Time
July marked the first month that more than 1 million courses of Pfizer's COVID antiviral Paxlovid were prescribed, according to Biden administration figures provided to Axios. (Gonzalez, 8/4)
In other news about covid —
75% Of COVID Patients Tested Positive, 35% Had Positive Cultures, On Day 6
Three quarters of a group of nonhospitalized men and women newly diagnosed as having COVID-19 continued to have positive rapid antigen test (RAT) results—and over one-third still had viable virus on culture—6 days later, according to a study led by Brigham and Women's researchers. (8/4)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Fauci Says Vaccinate And Boost Or You’ll ‘Get Into Trouble’
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is urging people to stay up to date on their vaccines against COVID-19 as colder months approach. “There are enough people who don’t fall into (high-risk) categories that if they don’t get vaccinated if they don’t get boosted, they’re going to get into trouble,” Fauci told KNX’s “In Depth” show this week. (Vaziri, 8/4)
The Washington Post:
DOT Wants Vouchers For Air Travelers Who Cancel Flights Because Of Covid
The Transportation Department is proposing that airlines issue vouchers with no expiration date to passengers who catch the coronavirus or other communicable diseases and decide to cancel their travel plans, part of expansion of financial protections spurred by complaints from the pandemic’s early days. (Duncan, 8/3)
Cognitive Rehab May Help Older Adults Clear Covid-Related Brain Fog
Eight months after falling ill with covid-19, the 73-year-old woman couldn’t remember what her husband had told her a few hours before. She would forget to remove laundry from the dryer at the end of the cycle. She would turn on the tap at a sink and walk away. Before covid, the woman had been doing bookkeeping for a local business. Now, she couldn’t add single-digit numbers in her head. (Graham, 8/5)
External Review Shapes Up For FDA's Food Safety, Tobacco Divisions
Former FDA Commissioner Jane Henney will conduct the review, requested by current head Robert Califf in response to high-profile health issues like the baby formula shortage and controversies over e-cigarette oversight.
Clinton-Era FDA Commissioner To Lead External Review Of Key Agency Offices
Jane Henney, a former commissioner of the FDA, has been tapped by the Reagan-Udall Foundation to lead a FDA-requested external review of key agency offices on human food safety and tobacco regulation, two sources with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO. There are few details public about the foundation’s upcoming review, which is already being met with some skepticism about its independence because of the foundation’s close ties to the FDA and the industries the agency regulates. Henney’s appointment has not been formally announced, but she would oversee the reviews of each regulatory area and the relevant parts of the Office of Regulatory affairs, which conducts inspections. (Foley and Cancryn, 8/4)
In other news from Washington —
The New York Times:
Man Who Threatened To Kill Fauci Is Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a West Virginia man to more than three years in prison for sending threatening emails to Anthony Fauci, including one in which he said the immunologist and his family would be beaten to death and set on fire, prosecutors said. The man, Thomas Patrick Connally Jr., 56, had pleaded guilty in May to making threats against a federal official and also admitted to sending threatening messages to other health officials, including Francis Collins, the former director of the National Institutes of Health, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland. (Patel, 8/4)
Heat.Gov Launches As A One-Stop Hub To Address Extreme Heat
For the last 30 years, heat has been the biggest weather-related cause of death in the nation. Now, there's a tool to help the public and decision-makers try and prevent that loss of life. (Feito, 8/4)
Add Dextrose To The List Of Critical Medical Treatments In Short Supply
EMS teams are scrambling to change their protocol because of a lack of the drug, used to treat conditions such as hypoglycemia, dehydration, and more. Other industry news is on San Francisco's Laguna Honda Hospital, Paloma Blanca Health and Rehabilitation in New Mexico, Cigna, and more.
Emergency Medical Services Facing Critical Dextrose Shortage
Amid shortages going back months to over a year of dextrose syringes and intravenous fluid bags to treat a wide variety of emergency conditions, US emergency medical services (EMS) are scrambling to adapt treatment protocols and conduct trainings on how to use them. Dextrose is a critical drug used to treat conditions such as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), dehydration, acute alcohol poisoning, and high potassium levels, or as a carbohydrate in parenteral nutrition. ( Van Beusekom, 8/4)
In other health industry news —
San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco Sues Federal Government Over Laguna Honda Closure
San Francisco’s current and former city attorneys have filed a pair of lawsuits that they hope will bring the federal government’s effort to shutter Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center next month to a screeching halt. (Asimov, 8/4)
The Boston Globe:
A Reprieve For The Last Birth Center In Eastern Massachusetts
Reproductive rights advocates are breathing a sigh of relief after learning Thursday that a planned early September closing has been postponed for the North Shore Birth Center in Beverly, the last operating, free-standing center in Eastern Massachusetts. The potential loss had raised concerns about dwindling access to maternity services, particularly for low-income families and women of color. (Lazar, 8/4)
Nursing Chain's Tangled Structure, Bankruptcy Threats Stymied Suits
After a hospital stay in 2016 for a brain tumor, Regina Romero was transferred to a nursing home in New Mexico. Romero died less than four months after arriving at the home; she was only 59 years old. (Whitlock, 8/5)
The Baltimore Sun:
Johns Hopkins-Led Consortium Gets $200 Million To Fight Top Global Health Threat: Tuberculosis
Johns Hopkins Medicine has received $200 million in federal funding to head up a consortium aimed at treating and stemming the spread of one of the world’s oldest and deadliest scourges: tuberculosis. (Cohn, 8/4)
Cigna Quarterly Report Highlighted By Low Medical Spending
Cigna saw net income rise 6.2% to $1.5 billion in the second quarter because of less emergency department and surgery utilization and lower direct costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the company reported Thursday. The decline in spending on care for fully insured customers, along with repricing in the insurer’s government-sponsored business, drove Cigna’s medical loss ratio down to 80.7%. The company reported an 84.4% medical loss ratio during the same period a year ago. (Tepper, 8/4)
Pope Promotes Vatican Nurse Credited With Saving His Life
Pope Francis has promoted a Vatican nurse whom he credited with saving his life to be his “personal health care assistant.” The Vatican announced the appointment of Massimiliano Strappetti in a one-line statement issued Thursday. Strappetti, the nursing coordinator of the Vatican’s health department, accompanied Francis on a difficult trip to Canada last month. Francis, 85, last year credited Strappetti with having accurately ascertained an intestinal problem that led to the pope’s 10-day hospital stay in July 2021 to remove 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his colon that had narrowed. ... Francis noted that Strappetti’s intervention was the second time a nurse had saved his life. (8/4)
'The Danger Of Polio Is Present': New York Health Officials Warn Public
Officials are urging those who are not vaccinated to do so, after one polio case has been confirmed and the virus has been found in two counties' wastewater. In other health and wellness news: the benefits of walking after a meal; eating disorders among younger children; and more.
Polio Fears Rise In New York Amid Possible Community Spread
New York state health officials issued a more urgent call Thursday for unvaccinated children and adults to get inoculated against polio, citing new evidence of possible “community spread” of the dangerous virus. The polio virus has now been found in seven different wastewater samples in two adjacent counties north of New York City, health officials said. (8/4)
The New York Times:
Health Chief Warns Polio Case Could Be ‘Tip Of The Iceberg’
New York State health officials on Thursday intensified their push for people who have not been immunized against polio to get vaccinated “right away,” saying the one confirmed case of the disease found in the state may be “the tip of the iceberg” of a much wider threat. (Shanahan, 8/4)
In other health and wellness news —
The New York Times:
Just 2 Minutes Of Walking After A Meal Is Surprisingly Good For You
Walking after a meal, conventional wisdom says, helps clear your mind and aids in digestion. Scientists have also found that going for a 15-minute walk after a meal can reduce blood sugar levels, which can help ward off complications such as Type 2 diabetes. But, as it turns out, even just a few minutes of walking can activate these benefits. (Fairbank, 8/4)
New Research Digs Into The Genetic Drivers Of Heart Failure
When coronary arteries are blocked, starving the heart of blood, there are good medications and treatments to deploy, from statins to stents. Not so for heart failure, the leading factor involved in heart disease, the top cause of death worldwide. (Cooney, 8/4)
Eating Disorders Increasingly Affect Kids As Young As 9. How Parents Talk About Food Matters
Eating disorders already affect 28 million Americans—those aged 12 through 25 make up 95% of cases. A new study, published this week in JAMA Pediatrics, shows how those even younger than 10 are affected by eating disorders. The research studied roughly 12,000 nine and ten-year-olds between 2016 and 2018 and found that 5% took part in binge eating behaviors and 2.5% took measures to avoid gaining weight, including self-induced vomiting, which experts say many parents don’t know children are capable of doing. (Mikhail, 8/4)
Climate Change Causing Poorer Fitness In Children: Study
Warming global temperatures — fueled by climate change — are making children less physically fit and more obese than ever before, a new study has found. And it’s a two-way street: physical fitness is also key to tolerating higher temperatures. A less active lifestyle caused by higher temperatures is putting kids at greater risk of suffering from heat-related health problems, including dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, according to the study, published in the journal Temperature on Friday. (Udasin, 8/5)
Skin Cancer Is A Risk No Matter The Skin Tone. But It May Be Overlooked In People With Dark Skin.
Brykyta Shelton found herself standing in a checkout line of a big-box retailer, uncomfortably aware as a woman ahead of her stared at her sandaled feet. Shelton had been taking medication for months for what her doctor said was toenail fungus, but one nail still looked gross. After Shelton completed her purchase, the woman pulled her aside and said that, while she wasn’t a doctor, she thought Shelton was dealing with something more serious than fungus. (West, 8/5)
In surgical news —
The Washington Post:
Surgeons Use Virtual Reality Techniques To Separate Conjoined Twins
After emerging from a final risky surgery, Brazilian twin brothers Arthur and Bernardo Lima were met with an emotional outpouring of applause, cheers and tears from medical staff and family members. For the first time, the boys lay separated, face-to-face and holding hands in a shared hospital bed in Rio de Janeiro, after doctors there and almost 6,000 miles away in London worked together using virtual reality techniques to operate on the conjoined 3-year-olds. (Suliman, 8/3)
One In 5 People Waiting For A Transplant Are Latino. There's A Call For More Donors
There are over 100 million people waiting for transplants in the U.S., and 60% are minorities, according to One Legacy Foundation, a group created in 2011 that advocates for organ donations. Kidneys are the organ in highest demand. Although the Hispanic population is among the groups that most need transplants, they are among the most reluctant to register to become donors. (Flores, Telemundo and Sesin, 8/4)
CMS Rejects Texas' Application For Postpartum Medicaid Extension
The state applied to extend coverage from two months to six months, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied it, without an immediate explanation. In news about opioids and psychedelic drugs, an Ohio doctor is sentenced to prison, Florida tries to stem the opioid epidemic, and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers discusses ayahuasca.
The Texas Tribune:
Texas Postpartum Medicaid Application Rejected By Feds
Texas’ application to extend Medicaid coverage for new mothers from two months to six months has been denied by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the agency offered no immediate reason for the rejection. (Klibanoff, 8/4)
Biden Administration Rejects Texas Postpartum Medicaid Extension Over Abortion Restriction
State lawmakers who successfully passed a measure last year extending postpartum Medicaid benefits said Thursday the Biden administration rejected the proposal, citing concerns over its eligibility criteria. The administration did not immediately explain the decision, but Texas Democrats said the issue had to do with the plan’s limitations. (Blackman, 8/4)
In news about opioids and psychedelic drug use —
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer:
Youngstown Area Doctor Who ‘Flooded’ Town With Opioids, Causing Two Fatal Overdoses, Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison
A former Youngstown area doctor who overprescribed opioids to dozens of patients, including two who died from overdose, was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in federal prison. (Ferrise, 8/4)
WUSF Public Media:
State Leaders Roll Out A 'Massive' Public-Private Program To Stem The Opioid Epidemic
As Florida grapples with nearly 2,000 overdose deaths so far this year, state leaders on Wednesday announced a “massive” effort to address opioid addiction in counties that need it most. (Dailey, 8/4)
Aaron Rodgers Credits Ayahuasca For His Recent MVPs: What Is The Psychedelic Drug?
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers revealed an ayahuasca experience paved the way for the "best season" of his decorated NFL career. On the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, Rodgers said he consumed the plant-based psychedelic drug ayahuasca in South America prior to winning his third and fourth MVP awards in 2020 and 2021. (Neysa Alund, 8/4)
Longer Looks: Interesting Reads You Might Have Missed
Each week, KHN finds longer stories for you to enjoy. This week's selections include stories on death with dignity, ADHD, the Transplant Games, nicotine addiction, and more.
The Dangers Of Saying “Patient Zero”
This summer, yet another disease unfamiliar to most people in the United States is being transmitted around the world—as is the impulse to find someone to blame. Many news stories about the current monkeypox outbreak make reference to a “patient zero,” supposedly the one person who brought the virus into a particular state or community. This kind of finger-pointing, which long predates monkeypox, is a deeply flawed framing. Worse yet, stigmatizing individuals who get sick—and portraying the social, interconnected nature of communicable disease as an individual matter—actually impedes efforts to slow the spread of infection. (Thrasher, 7/31)
Los Angeles Times:
One Last Trip: Gabriella Walsh’s Decision To Die — And Celebrate Life — On Her Own Terms
Gabriella Walsh knew she wanted to die on a Saturday. She’d settled on July 16, dressing that morning in a flower crown and a T-shirt with a picture of a dragonfly, an image that had comforted her in recent weeks. She took a deep inhale from a bottle of lavender oil and listened to a playlist of sea sounds. Earlier in the morning, friends and family nuzzled up against her in bed. Rest easy, they told her, and keep wandering. “I just feel like I’m going on a trip,” she said calmly. (Gerber, 8/1)
The Washington Post:
As Children's ADHD Diagnoses Rise, Parents Discover They Have It, Too
When her son Jake was diagnosed with ADHD at age 11, it didn’t occur to Cary Colleran that she may have the condition as well. It didn’t occur to her that the appointments she forgot, the permission slips left on the kitchen table, the misremembered dates of field trips might be anything other than a symptom of her personality. She’s disorganized. That’s all. (Onwuamaegbu, 8/1)
'Social Contagion' Isn’t Causing More Youths To Be Transgender, Study Finds
“Social contagion” is not driving an increasing number of adolescents to come out as transgender, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics. The study also found that the proportion of adolescents who were assigned female at birth and have come out as transgender also has not increased, which contradicts claims that adolescents whose birth sex is female are more susceptible to this so-called external influence. (Yurcaba, 8/3)
The Washington Post:
An 18-Year-Old Lifeguard Helped Deliver A Baby On A YMCA Pool Deck
It was a typical Sunday morning shift for Natalie Lucas, who works as a lifeguard at the YMCA of Northern Colorado. Until, suddenly, a pregnant woman’s water broke on the indoor pool deck. “This was something I wasn’t prepared for,” said Lucas, 18, who has been a certified lifeguard for three years. (Page, 8/1)
Times Of San Diego:
'Walking Miracles' At Transplant Games Show World Organs Don't Go To Waste
Shaleen Martel had important news in 2019. Her father figured she was going to announce a second pregnancy. Instead she asked him to open a box in front of her extended family. Inside was a small plush kidney with a message: I’m a donor match. Martel dismissed doctor’s advice that she couldn’t donate a kidney to her father who had been on dialysis for 22 months. Two months after the announcement, Gerald Wayman received his daughter’s kidney near Father’s Day. Tuesday, Wayman, 59, was resting between shot put throws at the track and field competition of the Transplant Games at UC San Diego. Her daughter had just finished first in her 100-meter dash heat. This was his third Transplant Games. (Stone, 8/4)
Why Do Orthopedic Surgeons Have Such High Breast Cancer Rates?
The first time Loretta Chou drilled a hole in a bone, as a medical student in the mid-80’s, she thought it was the most fun thing she had ever done. “I liked that you could actually make people better—almost immediately better—by operating on a fracture,” she recalls. When she decided to specialize in orthopedic surgery, the branch of medicine that treats the musculoskeletal system, she knew that her chosen profession was a boys’ club. Just six percent of orthopedic surgeons are women. But it didn’t dawn on her that her job could be a health risk until the mid-2000s, when Chou, by then the chief of foot and ankle surgery at Stanford University, noticed that an alarming number of female colleagues were being diagnosed with breast cancer. (Lurie, 8/4)
The New York Times:
Breaking Nicotine’s Powerful Draw
At some point in the next few years, the 30 million smokers in the United States could wake up one day to find that cigarettes sold at gas stations, convenience stores and smoke shops contain such minuscule amounts of nicotine that they cannot get their usual fix when lighting up. Would the smokers be plunged into the agonizing throes of nicotine withdrawal and seek out their favorite, full-nicotine brand on illicit markets, or would they turn to vaping, nicotine gum and other less harmful ways to get that angst-soothing rush? (Jacobs, 8/2)
Texas Pregnancy Care Worsens As Maternity Wards Close
Since 2020, dozens of hospitals have closed or suspended their maternity services. In Florida, so many hospitals have stopped delivering babies that the only facilities left are in and around cities, leaving rural counties entirely without maternity care. “Having a place for people in your community to give birth is just a basic service,” says Katy Kozhimannil, a professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota who specializes in rural maternal health. “You can’t have a functioning community without it. And yet it’s increasingly seen as extra. The burden of pregnancy and birthing is getting exponentially harder in this country. At a certain point it’s like, what are moms supposed to do?” (Suddath, 8/4)
South Korea Develops Nanotech Tattoo As Health Monitoring Device
South Koreans may soon be able to carry a device inside their own bodies in the form of a bespoke tattoo that automatically alerts them to potential health problems, if a science team's project bears fruit. Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in the city of Daejeon southwest of Seoul have developed an electronic tattoo ink made of liquid metal and carbon nanotubes that functions as a bioelectrode. (Park, 8/2)
Viewpoints: Fragmented Public Health System Hurting Monkeypox Response
Editorial pages focus on monkeypox, abortion, covid, and more.
We Need A National Action Plan To Contain Monkeypox Now
Our flawed response thus far is due in no small measure to a fragmented public health system that lacks coordination and technological innovation. It is impossible to fight infectious disease outbreaks without essential data and effective communication about the disease, but that is exactly what is happening now. We need to collect national data that is accurate and disaggregated by age, gender, race/ethnicity and risk profile. It is unacceptable that the U.S. is currently unable to provide accurate assessments of key scientific factors needed to track and respond to monkeypox. (Dr. Susan J. Blumenthal and Lawrence O. Gostin, 8/4)
On abortion —
How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Have The Last Laugh On Samuel Alito
The Kansas result raises an arresting possibility: Justice Samuel Alito’s long-term legacy may well be as the justice who facilitated a national consensus on behalf of abortion rights. Quite unintentionally, today’s hero of the “pro-life” movement could end up being a giant of the “pro-choice” movement. (John F. Harris, 8/4)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Post-Roe Era Fight Isn’t Just About Abortion. It’s About Stopping Selective History From Determining Our Rights
I am no longer able to think of Carmel without thinking of abortion and Nora May French. For this new habit of mind, I blame two things: the U.S. Supreme Court and the literary scholar Catherine Prendergast’s searing 2021 masterpiece, “The Gilded Edge: Two Audacious Women and the Cyanide Love Triangle That Shook America.” From visiting Carmel, I knew about the city’s early 20th century history as a colony of artists and bohemians. But I had never heard of the poet French until picking up Prendergast’s book. (Joe Matthews, 8/4)
The New York Times:
Here’s What School Covid Policies Should Look Like This Year
The societal risk from Covid is rapidly changing for the better. The individual risk to kids is — and has always been — low. The crisis kids face at this point in the pandemic is not the virus, but the cost of so many years of disrupted school. The overriding goal for the next school year should be to maximize time in the classroom and make school look and feel much like it did before the pandemic started. The way to do this is to get rid of excessive quarantine and isolation policies, and to rely on the protective power of vaccines and prior infections, with masking reserved as a strategy to get kids back in the classroom quicker after they’ve been sick. (Dr. Joseph G. Allen, 8/4)
Synthetic Drugs Will Fuel The Next Wave Of Illicit Drug Use
Illicit drugs killed more than 107,000 Americans in the last 12 months, the most on record, and are now the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45, more than firearms, car accidents, and Covid-19. (Jim Crotty, 8/5)
Are ‘Modest’ Price Controls As Bad For Innovation As Pharma Claims?
Drug price controls proposed by Democrats in the U.S. Senate are being met with dire warnings that such an approach will stifle innovation, shut off the pipeline of new medicines, and cost lives down the road. Is innovation so fragile that a modest reduction in profits by global giants could seriously impact the supply of new medicines? (Standish Fleming, 8/4)