- KFF Health News Original Stories 5
- Weight Loss Gadgets: They Provide Data to Help Consumers Achieve Diet Goals, but It Still Won’t Be Easy
- 5 Things to Know About Colorado’s Psychedelics Ballot Initiative
- Will Covid Spike Again This Fall? 6 Tips to Help You Stay Safe
- Lawsuit by KHN Prompts Government to Release Medicare Advantage Audits
- KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Finally Fixing the 'Family Glitch'
- Political Cartoon: 'Don't Forget to Stretch'
- Lifestyle and Health 1
- Pandemic Side Effects Like Job Loss, Food Insecurity Worsened Teen Mental Health
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
You may have seen the ads that promise weight loss and better health — phone apps, rings, and other devices — by giving you data on how your body reacts to food, exercise, and sleep. Is this information enough to help consumers achieve their goals? (Hannah Norman, )
The good, the bad, and the unknown about the Centennial State’s proposal to decriminalize and regulate magic mushrooms and plant-based psychedelics. (Markian Hawryluk and Matt Volz, )
Recent research suggests that the covid virus is mutating to better dodge people’s immune defenses. It could soon evade monoclonal antibodies used to treat covid. KHN examines what public health officials believe is on the horizon and how best to fight the disease. (Céline Gounder, )
The lawsuit was filed three years ago to learn about vast overcharges by the popular health plans that are detailed in audits the government refused to release to the public. (Fred Schulte, )
The Biden administration has decided to try to fix the so-called “family glitch” in the Affordable Care Act without an act of Congress. The provision has prevented workers’ families from getting subsidized coverage if an employer offer is unaffordable. Meanwhile, Medicare’s open enrollment period begins Oct. 15, and private Medicare Advantage plans are poised to cover more than half of Medicare’s 65 million enrollees. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these topics and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read. ( )
KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Don't Forget to Stretch'" by Dave Coverly.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
SHARPEN YOUR FANGS IN THE HALLOWEEN HAIKU CONTEST!
Dracula's worst fear:
Blood shortages! Donate now —
then send us your rhymes!
- KHN Staff
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.
Summaries Of The News:
Reuters, citing a White House official, said the order requires the Department of Health and Human Services to outline within 90 days how it will use new models of care and payment to cut drug costs.
Biden To Sign Order Seeking New Prescription Drug Cost Savings - Official
President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Friday pushing federal officials to drive prescription drug costs down during a pre-election trip designed to promote Democrats' health policies, an official said. The order requires the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to outline within 90 days how it will use new models of care and payment to cut drug costs, according to the White House official, who declined to be identified previewing the president's action. (Hunnicutt, 10/14)
Biden Pushing Lower Prescription Drug Costs In Midterm Press
President Joe Biden is set to highlight his administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug costs on Friday as part of his three-state Western tour this week, as he confronts a sobering inflation report in the waning weeks before midterm elections. (Long, 10/14)
More on Medicare drug prices and payments —
The Biden Administration's Next Challenge: Paying For Discount Drug Mistakes
Four months after it lost a high-profile dispute at the Supreme Court, the Biden administration has yet to figure out how it will reimburse hospitals for as much as $10 billion in unlawful cuts to Medicare outpatient drug payments. (Goldman, 10/14)
Democrats' New Medicare Negotiations Law Attempts To Marry Drug Prices To Value
Democrats' new law giving Medicare the authority to negotiate some drug prices attempts to do something critics say is often lacking in today's market: Tying what the government pays to the treatments' value. (Owens, 10/14)
Lawsuit By KHN Prompts Government To Release Medicare Advantage Audits
Federal health officials have agreed to make public 90 audits of private Medicare Advantage health plans for seniors that are expected to reveal hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges to the government. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services agreed to release the records to settle a lawsuit filed by Kaiser Health News against the agency in September 2019 under the Freedom of Information Act. (Schulte, 10/14)
In other news from the Biden administration —
Biden Expanding Access To Taxpayer-Funded 'Gender-Affirming Care' For Federal Employees
The Biden administration is expanding the range of taxpayer-financed "gender-affirming" health care options available to federal employees, starting in 2023, according to an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) explanation of federal benefits released in late September. (Hauf, 10/13)
KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Finally Fixing The ‘Family Glitch’
The Biden administration this week issued regulations aimed at fixing the Affordable Care Act’s “family glitch,” which has prevented families that can’t afford their employer insurance from getting subsidized coverage from the insurance marketplaces. The Obama administration had decided that only Congress could fix the glitch. Meanwhile, open enrollment for Medicare begins Oct. 15, when beneficiaries can join or change private Medicare Advantage plans or stand-alone prescription drug plans. (10/13)
A torrent of different omicron subvariants are emerging independently across the world, each with advantageous mutations. Anticipating the wave, the U.S. public health emergency was just extended.
The Next U.S. COVID Wave Is Coming. Why It Will Be 'Much Weirder Than Before'
The orderly succession of individually dominant variants we’ve come to expect over the last two years — think Alpha, then Beta, then Delta, then Omicron — may also be a thing of the past. Instead, what scientists are seeing now is a bunch of worrisome Omicron descendants arising simultaneously but independently in different corners of the globe — all with the same set of advantageous mutations that help them dodge our existing immune defenses and drive new waves of infection. Experts call this “convergent evolution” — and right now, there’s a “fairly unprecedented amount” of it going on, according to Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London. (Romano, 10/13)
Will Covid Spike Again This Fall? 6 Tips To Help You Stay Safe
Last year, the emergence of the highly transmissible omicron variant of the covid-19 virus caught many people by surprise and led to a surge in cases that overwhelmed hospitals and drove up fatalities. Now we’re learning that omicron is mutating to better evade the immune system. Omicron-specific vaccines were authorized by the FDA in August and are recommended by U.S. health officials for anyone 5 or older. Yet only half of adults in the United States have heard much about these booster shots, according to a recent KFF poll, and only a third say they’ve gotten one or plan to get one as soon as possible. In 2020 and 2021, covid cases spiked in the U.S. between November and February. (Gounder, 10/14)
U.S. Extends Covid Public Health Emergency
The U.S. has extended the Covid public health emergency through Jan. 11, a clear demonstration that the Biden administration still views Covid as a crisis despite President Joe Biden’s recent claim that the pandemic is over. (Kimball, 10/13)
New COVID Booster's Human Trial Reveals Safe, Effective Results
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced Thursday that they now have data in adults one week after a 30-microgram booster that targets both variants. It is called a bivalent vaccine because it addresses two variants. Two groups of 40 adults each, one age 18-55 and the other over 55, both tolerated the new shot as well as earlier ones and had no unexpected side effects. (Weintraub, 10/13)
Omicron Booster: Scientists Find Gene Variant Tied To Better Covid Shot Response
Scientists have identified an immunity gene variant in people with strong responses to Covid-19 vaccines who were less likely to get breakthrough infections, a finding that could improve future shot design. (Loh and John Milton, 10/13)
The Masks We’ll Wear In The Next Pandemic
On one level, the world’s response to the coronavirus pandemic over the past two and half years was a major triumph for modern medicine. (Stern, 10/13)
Meanwhile, two high schools in California are already taking a hit, as more than 1,000 students are absent with suspected respiratory illnesses.
Flu Off To An Early Start As CDC Warns About Potentially Severe Season
"We've noted that flu activity is starting to increase across much of the country," especially in the Southeast and south-central U.S., the CDC's director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told NBC News. (Edwards, 10/13)
More Than 1,000 Students Absent, Suspected Respiratory Outbreak Under Investigation At 2 San Diego County Schools
San Diego County Public Health Services is investigating a large, suspected outbreak of respiratory and flu-like symptoms reported among students at Patrick Henry High School and Del Norte High School. School officials said the symptoms were mostly fever, cough and headache. (Handy, 10/13)
The New York Times:
4 Ways To Boost Your Immune System Ahead Of Cold And Flu Season
According to Dr. Helen Chu, an epidemiologist and infectious-disease physician at the University of Washington School of Public Health, it’s a myth that simply being cold will make you more likely to get sick. But viruses do tend to transmit most efficiently in drier, colder conditions, leading to spikes in winter months. So now is the time to get serious about immune health. Here are four things health experts say you can do to prepare ahead of fall and winter surges. (Seo, 10/14)
In updates on RSV —
New Vaccine Against Respiratory Syncytial Virus Is 83% Effective In Older Adults
The experimental shot against respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, protected volunteers against a disease that causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year in a key trial. GSK said it plans to submit it for approval in the second half. (Fourcade, 10/13)
New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show "most" U.S. adolescents experienced "negative events" during the pandemic. The risks grew as the number of negative events increased, the study found. In other news, a study says dementia could be detectable a decade before diagnosis.
Poor Mental Health In US Teens Exacerbated By Negative Experiences During Covid-19 Pandemic, Survey Finds
A new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most adolescents experienced negative events during the Covid-19 pandemic – and those experiences were linked to higher prevalence of poor mental health and suicide attempts. Nearly three-quarters of high school students in the US reported experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience in 2021, such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, food insecurity or loss of a parent’s job during the Covid-19 pandemic. Also included were electronic bullying, dating violence and sexual violence. (McPhillips, 10/13)
In other health and wellness news —
New Study Indicates Dementia Signs Can Be Detected Nearly A Decade Before Diagnosis
A new study from researchers at the University of Cambridge indicates it may be possible to detect dementia within a patient nearly a decade before they are diagnosed. (Nieto, 10/13)
Minority Patients With Diabetes Likelier To Advance To Kidney Disease
Despite recent progress, there's still a high incidence of chronic kidney disease among adults with diabetes, particularly in minority communities, a new analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine finds. (Dreher, 10/13)
Brain Imaging Method Might Overcome Limitations Of MRI Scans
Research often proceeds in a logical progression, new studies building upon a detailed understanding of the underlying processes revealed by earlier work. But a new brain imaging technique that can directly track the activity of neurons emerged from one of academics’ favorite questions: “What would happen if we tried doing it this way?” (Trang, 10/13)
The Washington Post:
Hotter Days Bring Out Hotter Tempers, Research Finds
Two recent studies add to the idea by showing that when it gets hot out, people are more prone to hate speech and hostile behavior. One study found hate speech on social media escalated with high temperatures. Another reported an increase in workplace harassment and discrimination at the U.S. Postal Service when the temperature eclipsed 90 degrees. (Ajasa, 10/13)
Weight Loss Gadgets: They Provide Data To Help Consumers Achieve Diet Goals, But It Still Won’t Be Easy
I felt a special kind of awe, then panic, watching my glucose levels skyrocket for the first time after relishing a cold beer on a sweltering summer evening. It was a biological push notification from the fluid just beneath my skin that the carbohydrate-packed beverage was interfering with efforts to maintain my health and weight. For years, people with Type 1 diabetes have worn continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs, to track blood sugar spikes and make sure they’re getting enough insulin. CGMs are small patches with tiny needles for sensors that prick the skin and are generally worn on the stomach or back of the arm. (Norman, 10/14)
A report in Stat looks into tactics deployed by major pharmacy chains Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart during government efforts a decade ago to hold them accountable for the opioid crisis: A Walgreens executive, for example, suggested not tracking the company's rule-breaking.
Documents Detail How Walgreens, CVS, Walmart Failed Patients On Opioids
In 2011, Walgreens executives were under pressure. Amid a growing addiction crisis, and with the country already awash in prescription painkillers, the federal government was demanding accountability from the pharmacy giant for filling thousands of opioid prescriptions written by doctors in suspiciously large quantities. (Facher, Sheridan and Silverman, 10/14)
In other pharmaceutical and biotech news —
U.S. Supreme Court Rebuffs Novartis, Allows Generic Versions Of MS Drug
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday turned down Novartis' bid to block the launch of generic versions of the company's blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya in a dispute with China's HEC Pharm Co Ltd and other generic drugmakers. (Brittain, 10/13)
Relmada Antidepressant Drug Fails First Of Several Late-Stage Clinical Trials
Relmada Therapeutics said Thursday that its experimental treatment for depression failed to achieve the primary goals of a large clinical trial, a significant setback for the company’s only medicine in clinical development. (Feuerstein, 10/13)
5 Things To Know About Colorado’s Psychedelics Ballot Initiative
Colorado could become the second state after Oregon to allow the use of certain psychedelic substances that are illegal under federal law. But while Oregon voters in 2020 approved the supervised use of psychedelic mushrooms, the citizen initiative on the Colorado ballot in November goes further. Proposition 122 would allow the personal use of psilocybin mushrooms and certain plant-based psychedelic substances by adults 21 and over but would ban sales except in licensed “healing centers,” where people could ingest them under the supervision of trained facilitators. (Hawryluk and Volz, 10/14)
The Boston Globe:
Local Tech Firms Are Analyzing Sweat To Track Your Health
“It turns out there’s a lot of information in a single drop of sweat,” said Roozbeh Ghaffari, chief executive and cofounder of Epicore Biosystems, a Cambridge company backed by $10 million in funding from investors that include Chevron Technology Ventures and Alumni Ventures. (Bray, 10/13)
In health care industry news —
Samsung Partners With HealthTap To Bring Virtual Primary Care To Smart TVs
Samsung is teaming up with a digital health company to bring virtual care into consumers' homes through their smart TVs. Through a new partnership with virtual primary care company HealthTap, Samsung Smart TV users can connect to the company's healthcare platform and visit with a doctor of their choice using the built-in camera on their television, according to the companies in a press release. Consumers can review doctor bios, credentials and video interviews to select a doctor and easily schedule an appointment, often within the same week. (Landi, 10/13)
Des Moines Register:
3-Year-Old Given Too Much Pain Medication After Cyberattack Shut Down MercyOne Computers, Parents Say
Three-year-old Jay Parsi appears to be just one of an unknown number of patients seriously affected by the massive cyberattack that started in early October. "It was an awful, awful experience," Kelley Parsi, Jay's mother, told the Des Moines Register. (Ramm, 10/13)
Each week, KHN finds longer stories for you to enjoy. This week's selections include stories on former NFL player-turned-neurosurgeon Myron Rolle, Parkinson's, Ebola, sepsis, and misinformation.
The New York Times:
It’s Never Too Late To Pivot From N.F.L. Safety To Neurosurgeon
It had been one month without football for Myron Rolle, an N.F.L. safety, and he was foundering. Mr. Rolle was just 25, and his pro football career looked grim: He was released in 2011 after three unremarkable seasons with the Tennessee Titans and had failed in his attempt to make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster. Without the structure and rigor of a football career, he struggled to make sense of what would come next. Mr. Rolle had always had a Plan B. He had been a hot-tempered kid, but at 11, his older brother, Marshawn, gave him a copy of “Gifted Hands,” Dr. Ben Carson’s popular 1990 memoir that detailed how Dr. Carson went from being an inner-city youth with poor grades to the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. (Bergeron, 10/11)
A Supersmeller Can Detect The Scent Of Parkinson's, Leading To An Experimental Test For The Illness
A Scottish woman named Joy Milne made headlines in 2015 for an unusual talent: her ability to sniff out people afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative illness that is estimated to affect nearly a million people in the U.S. alone. Since then a group of scientists in the U.K. has been working with Milne to pinpoint the molecules that give Parkinson’s its distinct olfactory signature. The team has now zeroed in on a set of molecules specific to the disease—and has created a simple skin-swab-based test to detect them. (Kwon, 10/11)
The Washington Post:
Fighting Ebola In The Age Of Covid
Perhaps the most crucial change since the 2014 Ebola outbreak is obvious: The world suffered through a global pandemic with coronavirus. On paper, Ebola may look like a far scarier prospect than the coronavirus that began spreading from Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Even during the first wave of the pandemic, its fatality rate peaked at less than 15 percent in the worst-hit countries and, it is now below 1 percent in much of the world. But the coronavirus traveled far more easily than Ebola. It could spread through droplets in the air, whereas Ebola required spreads through physical contact with bodily fluids from someone who is sick or has died from the virus. (Taylor, 10/12)
A New, Transparent AI Tool May Help Detect Blood Poisoning
Each year in the United States, sepsis kills over a quarter million people — more than stroke, diabetes, or lung cancer. One reason for all this carnage is that sepsis isn’t well understood, and if not detected in time, it’s essentially a death sentence. Consequently, much research has focused on catching sepsis early, but the disease’s complexity has plagued existing clinical support systems — electronic tools that use pop-up alerts to improve patient care — with low accuracy and high rates of false alarm. That may soon change. Back in July, Johns Hopkins researchers published a trio of studies in Nature Medicine and npj Digital Medicine, showcasing an early warning system that uses artificial intelligence. (Bajaj, 10/12)
The New York Times:
How Social Media Amplifies Misinformation More Than Information
It is well known that social media amplifies misinformation and other harmful content. The Integrity Institute, an advocacy group, is now trying to measure exactly how much — and on Thursday it began publishing results that it plans to update each week through the midterm elections on Nov. 8. The institute’s initial report, posted online, found that a “well-crafted lie” will get more engagements than typical, truthful content and that some features of social media sites and their algorithms contribute to the spread of misinformation. (Myers, 10/13)
Editorial writers weigh in on these public health topics.
Leave Medical Professionals Out Of Lethal Injection Process
Regardless of what any of us feel about the death penalty, we should all oppose our state’s use of medicines in executions − a practice that impersonates a complicated medical procedure in a poorly monitored setting. This too often results in botched executions and simultaneously imposes psychological harm for the health care professionals and others involved. (Dr. Wes Ely, 10/13)
The Washington Post:
Ebola Is Not A Concern To Americans Yet. Let’s Keep It That Way
As covid-19 numbers finally decrease and new monkeypox infections level off, Uganda is in the midst of an Ebola outbreak, with a reported 63 infections and 29 deaths thus far. (Leana S. Wen, 10/13)
Race, Culture Still Matter 50 Years After Tuskegee Study
Today, we see a damaging form of distrust play out in significantly lower COVID-19 vaccination rates among African Americans and persistently high rates of subsequent infection and mortality. Distrust of the medical profession can also harm people at the end of life if it causes them to press for futile treatments that inflict unnecessary suffering. (Barbara Coombs Lee and Paul Smith, 10/13)
The Future For Practicing Physicians In A Corporate World
Forty years ago, in his Pulitzer Prize-winning history “The Social Transformation of American Medicine,” sociologist Paul Starr predicted that independent physician practice, which had been a cornerstone of American medicine for most of the 20th century, would be eclipsed by the “coming of the corporation.” (Jeff Goldsmith, 10/14)