- KFF Health News Original Stories 3
- Texas, Battling Teen Pregnancy, Recasts Sex Education Standards
- Clearing Pollution Helps Clear the Fog of Aging — And May Cut the Risk of Dementia
- Centene to Pay $166 Million to Texas in Medicaid Drug Pricing Settlement
From KFF Health News - Latest Stories:
KFF Health News Original Stories
Texas, Battling Teen Pregnancy, Recasts Sex Education Standards
As Texas adjusts to a near-total abortion ban, Texas schools are redoubling efforts to end teen pregnancies by enacting new standards for sexual health education. Beyond focusing on abstinence, they are teaching middle schoolers about contraceptives and preventing sexually transmitted infections. But parents must opt in for their children to get the lessons. (Emmarie Huetteman, )
Clearing Pollution Helps Clear the Fog of Aging — And May Cut the Risk of Dementia
Two studies published this year provide evidence that older adults’ cognitive health may benefit if air quality is improved. (Judith Graham, )
Centene to Pay $166 Million to Texas in Medicaid Drug Pricing Settlement
Texas is at least the 12th state to settle with St. Louis-based Centene Corp. over allegations that it overcharged Medicaid prescription drug programs. (Andy Miller and Samantha Young, )
Here's today's health policy haiku:
GO AHEAD, MAKE THAT BOOSTER APPOINTMENT
Go get the new shot!
It's a small inconvenience
with a big payoff
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:
Covid Death Rate Too High For Pandemic To Be Over, Fauci Suggests
On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci tried to temper President Joe Biden's statement that the pandemic was "over." Fauci also said it was "unlikely" that the United States would be able to eliminate the virus. Other experts noted that some people have a "magical thinking that the only way the pandemic is over is if we reset to what it was like in 2019."
Fauci: “We Are Not Where We Need To Be If We Are Going To Quote ‘Live With The Virus’”
It is unlikely the U.S. will eradicate the coronavirus and a “suspicious” new variant, BA 2.75.2, is on the horizon, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, said Monday during a fireside chat with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We are not where we need to be if we are going to quote ‘live with the virus’ because we know we are not going to eradicate it,” Fauci said. “The next question we ask: ‘Are we going to be able to eliminate it from our country or from most of the world?’ and the answer is unlikely, because it is highly transmissible and the immunity that’s induced by vaccine or infection is also transient.” (Garrity, 9/19)
Biden Declared The Pandemic 'Over.' His Covid Team Says It's More Complicated.
White House officials spent the better part of this year plotting a delicate, step-by-step process they hoped would guide the U.S. out of its pandemic era. One element that was not part of that plan: President Joe Biden just coming out and saying it. ... When the White House reviewed a transcript of his comments after the interview, which was taped earlier in the week, it did not alert its Covid team — leaving the administration without a coordinated response for the immediate aftermath. (Cancryn and Mahr, 9/19)
Hundreds are still dying each day —
The New York Times:
Biden Says The Pandemic Is Over. But At Least 400 People Are Dying Daily
With 400 to 500 Americans still dying every day of Covid-19, President Biden has declared that “the pandemic is over.” But don’t tell that to people like Debra McCoskey-Reisert, whose mother died in early August. Or Ben HsuBorger, who has chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition often brought on by viruses, including the coronavirus. Or Peter W. Goodman, whose wife died on Aug. 17. “It’s not over for me,” said a tearful Mr. Goodman, 76, who is retired after working as a journalism professor at Hofstra University on Long Island. Both he and his wife, Debbie, 70, became sick with Covid-19 last month. He recovered. She did not. (Stolberg, 9/19)
Covid Will Be A Leading Cause Of Death Indefinitely In The U.S.
"It’s likely, when we think of the causes of death in our society, that Covid’s on the list probably forever,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, the chair of the University of California, San Francisco’s department of medicine. "Whether we call it a pandemic or not, it’s still an important threat to people," he added. (Bendix and Pettypiece, 9/20)
The New York Times:
Lack Of Data Still Blunts US Response To Outbreaks
Decades of underinvestment in public health information systems has crippled efforts to understand the pandemic, stranding crucial data in incompatible data systems so outmoded that information often must be repeatedly typed in by hand. The data failure, a salient lesson of a pandemic that has killed more than one million Americans, will be expensive and time-consuming to fix. The precise cost in needless illness and death cannot be quantified. The nation’s comparatively low vaccination rate is clearly a major factor in why the United States has recorded the highest Covid death rate among large, wealthy nations. But federal experts are certain that the lack of comprehensive, timely data has also exacted a heavy toll. (LaFraniere, 9/20)
Is The Covid-19 Pandemic Over? The Answer Is More Art Than Science
Is the Covid-19 pandemic over? President Biden told Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” it was. The Sunday night interview aired just days after the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the end may be in sight — though Tedros clearly didn’t mean it was days away when he predicted it. (Branswell, 9/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
When Is The Pandemic Over?
A disease is endemic when it exists at a baseline, predictable level, and is a constant presence in a population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Covid-19 pandemic likely will end up falling into a predictable, more stable pattern and become endemic over time, most infectious disease epidemiologists agree. Determining when exactly a pandemic hits its end often happens in hindsight, public health experts said. (Whyte and Abbott, 9/19)
The Pandemic Is Over? Biden's COVID Word Salad Sums Up How Life Will Never Go Back To Before Times
He’s right, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Fortune. Because President Biden was speaking of an oft-ignored middle ground called endemicity—and it won’t look anything like pre-pandemic life. Those who are “up in arms” about Biden’s statement are “creating a false alternative,” Adalja said. And they’re afflicted with a “magical thinking that the only way the pandemic is over is if we reset to what it was like in 2019,” he added. But, “it’s going to take a toll.” (Prater, 9/20)
Study: Moderna's Bivalent Booster More Protective Than Previous Shot
After 28 days, the new shot triggered a stronger antibody response against the omicron variant than the booster that came before it. And the new boosters from both Moderna and Pfizer appear to have side effects similar to the original set of vaccines, research shows.
Updated COVID Booster Tied To Strong Omicron Immune Response
The new bivalent (two-strain) Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster triggered stronger neutralizing antibody responses against the highly transmissible Omicron variant at 28 days than the previously authorized booster, with no safety concerns, according to the interim results of a phase 2/3 open-label, nonrandomized study published late last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. "These findings indicate that bivalent vaccines may be a new tool in the response to emerging variants," the researchers wrote. (Van Beusekom, 9/19)
Side Effects From New COVID Boosters Similar To Original Shots
Clinical studies that evaluated the safety of the boosters made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna found that each was associated with many of the same side effects as the original vaccines. They included pain, redness and swelling at the injection site; fatigue; headache; muscle pain; chills; joint pain; and fever. (MacDonald, 9/19)
COVID Vaccination Rates Among Youngest U.S. Kids Alarm Experts
Less than 325,000 of America's youngest children are fully vaccinated as hesitancy continues to dog the pandemic response. (Doherty, 9/19)
Have Researchers Hit A Wall In The Hunt For Severe Covid Drugs?
It seemed interminably slow then, what with all the haze and fear of fresh plague, but in hindsight it was a medical marvel: From January 2020 to February 2021, researchers proved four different effective therapies for patients hospitalized with Covid-19 — a lightning pace for drug research, where progress is often measured in decades. That picture has changed starkly. (Mast, 9/19)
Francis Collins On Trust In Science And How Covid Communications Failed
Former NIH director and current White House science adviser Francis Collins told a group of journalists late last week about his passion for both the Cancer Moonshot and the new biomedical research agency known as ARPA-H. (Cooney, 9/19)
4 In 5 Maternal Deaths In 2017-19 Were Preventable, Analysis Finds
The analysis, released Monday, showed that the deaths disproportionately occurred among women of color, including Black and Indigenous mothers, USA Today reported. Other news on reproductive health and abortion is from Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, Texas, and elsewhere.
CDC Analysis Shows More Than 80% Of US Maternal Deaths Are Preventable
A staggering number of maternal deaths in the United States were found to be preventable, according to a federal analysis of maternal death data released Monday. More than 80%, or roughly 4 in 5 maternal deaths in a two-year period, were due to preventable causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found. (Hassanein, 9/19)
In updates on the fight for abortion rights —
Planned Parenthood, Others Urge Indiana Judge To Block Abortion Ban
A Planned Parenthood affiliate and other abortion rights groups and providers on Monday urged an Indiana judge to block the state's ban on most abortions, which took effect last Thursday. Kenneth Falk, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, told Judge Kelsey Hanlon in Indianapolis that the ban ran afoul of privacy and liberty rights Falk said were guaranteed by the state's constitution. The ACLU sued to challenge the law alongside Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky and others. (Pierson, 9/19)
Detroit Free Press:
Michigan Pharmacists Can Prescribe Birth Control Pills, Patch, Ring
Soon, getting hormonal birth control in Michigan may be as simple as stopping in at your neighborhood pharmacy. That’s because the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on Monday issued a new interpretation of the Michigan Public Health Code that opens up the ability of doctors to partner with pharmacists to directly dispense hormonal birth control. (Jordan Shamus, 9/19)
The Boston Globe:
On Abortion, NH Republican Senate Challenger Has A Message: ‘Get Over It’
On one level, the New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate was merely saying out loud what many political strategists have been urging GOP candidates to do: Stop talking about abortion and focus on the economy. But in a weekend interview, Don Bolduc, the tough-talking retired brigadier general, directed that advice to his opponent, Democratic US Senator Maggie Hassan, criticizing her focus on the overturned constitutional right to abortion. “Get over it,” Bolduc said on WMUR CloseUp. (Ebbert, 9/19)
Ad Spending Shows Dems Hinging Midterm Hopes On Abortion
Democrats are pumping an unprecedented amount of money into advertising related to abortion rights, underscoring how central the message is to the party in the final weeks before the November midterm elections. With the most intense period of campaigning only just beginning, Democrats have already invested more than an estimated $124 million this year in television advertising referencing abortion. That’s more than twice as much money as the Democrats’ next top issue this year, “character,” and almost 20 times more than Democrats spent on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms. (Peoples and Kessler, 9/20)
They Ended Wanted Pregnancies. Post-Roe, They Face New Pain.
Ashley Lefebvre hugs her unborn daughter’s urn each night. Sarah Halsey treasures the tiny hat worn by her baby who lived just 38 minutes. Abi Frazier moved away from her home with a furnished nursery. All ended wanted pregnancies because of grave fetal medical problems. It’s a side of abortion seldom discussed in national debates — the termination of pregnancies because of fetal anomalies or other often-fatal medical problems. These terminations often happen in the second trimester, when women have already picked out names, bought baby clothes and felt kicking in their wombs. They’re far different from the most common abortions, performed earlier in pregnancies. (Ungar, 9/18)
The Texas Tribune:
How Texas’ Abortion Laws Turned A Heartbreaking Fetal Diagnosis Into A Cross-Country Journey
The protesters outside the Seattle abortion clinic waved pictures of bloody fetuses, shouting that she was a “baby killer” and begging her to choose life. Lauren Hall, 27, fought the urge to scream back and tell them just how badly she wished life was a choice she could have made. (Klibanoff, 9/20)
Texas, Battling Teen Pregnancy, Recasts Sex Education Standards
J.R. Chester got pregnant the summer before her senior year of high school. A bright student with good grades, she gave birth, graduated, and was pregnant again when she arrived at college that fall. She was a teen mom — like her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother. Her school did not teach sexual health education, and preventing pregnancy was a foreign concept. Her sons are now teenagers. “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any,” said Chester, now a program director for Healthy Futures of Texas, a nonprofit sexual health advocacy and education organization. (Huetteman, 9/20)
STDs Rose Sharply Last Year, With Syphilis Rate The Highest In 30 Years
The CDC data resulted in calls for more action on the STD prevention front. Other news is on pediatric monkeypox infections and the fight to eradicate polio.
STDs Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea Increased In US In 2021
Rates of common sexually transmitted infections sharply increased in the US last year, alarming some health officials and sexual health advocates who argue the country needs to do more to stop the spread of preventable diseases. (Muller, 9/19)
'Out Of Control' STD Situation Prompts Call For Changes
Sharply rising cases of some sexually transmitted diseases — including a 26% rise in new syphilis infections reported last year — are prompting U.S. health officials to call for new prevention and treatment efforts. “It is imperative that we ... work to rebuild, innovate, and expand (STD) prevention in the U.S.,” said Dr. Leandro Mena of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a speech Monday at a medical conference on sexually transmitted diseases. (Stobbe, 9/19)
In news about monkeypox and polio —
Florida Infant, New Hampshire Child Contract Monkeypox
A Florida infant and a child from New Hampshire represent the latest reported pediatric monkeypox infections, and both cases highlight the role that household contacts and surface contamination could play in monkeypox exposure. (Soucheray, 9/19)
The Vaccine Loophole In Polio Eradication
The world has been so close to eradicating polio for so long—which is exactly why the virus is staging a comeback now. (Wu, 9/16)
Medicaid Fraud Case Costs Centene $166 Million Settlement In Texas
The health insurance company was facing claims it overcharged Texas' Medicaid program for pharmacy services. Also in the news: care gaps exposed in NCQA health plan quality ratings and Medicare solutions for issues with the kidney dialysis system.
Centene To Pay $166 Million To Texas In Medicaid Drug Pricing Settlement
Health insurance giant Centene Corp. has agreed to pay $165.6 million to Texas to resolve claims that it overcharged the state’s Medicaid program for pharmacy services. It’s the biggest known payout by the nation’s largest Medicaid insurer over its drug pricing practices. The deal was signed July 11 but hadn’t been publicly announced until Monday after KHN obtained a copy of the settlement through a Texas public records request and began asking questions. The agreement makes Texas at least the 12th state to settle pharmacy billing claims with St. Louis-based Centene. (Miller and Young, 9/19)
Centene Settles Medicaid Fraud Allegations In Texas For $166M
Centene did not admit liability for violating the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act and maintains that its business practices were lawful, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a news release Monday. The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to interview requests. (Tepper, 9/19)
In Medicare news —
NCQA Health Plan Quality Ratings Show Care Gaps
Medicare plans scored better in 2021 than Medicaid and commercial plans in key quality areas measured by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. The committee rates Medicare, Medicaid and commercial plans annually on a five-star scale, using data from the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set, the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems' Health Plan Survey, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Health Outcomes Survey. (Devereaux, 9/19)
The Kidney Dialysis System Has Problems, So Medicare Is Jumping In
Chronic kidney disease, already a problem affecting millions of Americans, is only expected to become more prevalent as the country ages. For those with the disease, a transplant is the ideal treatment, but dialysis is their reality. (Cueto, 9/19)
UnitedHealth's Change Healthcare Acquisition Approved By Judge
The Justice Department had been challenging the $13 billion acquisition on antitrust grounds, but a federal judge disagreed, on the condition UnitedHealth divest Change’s claims editing subsidiary, ClaimsXten. Separate reports say Ascension is losing almost $2 billion a year as expenses climb.
UnitedHealth May Acquire Change Healthcare, Judge Rules
A federal judge on Monday shot down the U.S. Justice Department’s legal challenge to UnitedHealth Group’s $13 billion acquisition of the technology company Change Healthcare. (Bannow, 9/19)
The Wall Street Journal:
Judge Rejects Antitrust Challenge To UnitedHealth Acquisition
The court ruling represents an early blow to stepped-up antitrust enforcement by the Biden administration, which sued in February to block the deal. The Justice Department’s top antitrust official, Jonathan Kanter, said the department disagreed with the decision and was considering its next steps. (Mathews and Kendall, 9/19)
In other health care industry news —
Ascension Loses Almost $2 Billion In A Year As Expenses Climb
Ascension is the latest healthcare organization to report financial woes in a post-pandemic environment with rising expenses and no signs of relief. The St. Louis-based not-for-profit health system posted a $1.84 billion net loss in its latest fiscal year, which ended June 30, according to an audit report released last week. A year ago, Ascension reported annual net income of $5.67 billion. (Hudson, 9/19)
The Washington Post:
If John Hopkins Drops CareFirst, Patients' Access To Care Is At Risk
Johns Hopkins has warned nearly 300,000 patients that their doctors, nurses and other health care providers may no longer accept CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield health insurance as soon as Dec. 5, jeopardizing patients’ access to care. Hopkins and CareFirst are at an impasse over rates the insurance company pays for care at Hopkins, a major provider of primary, specialized and outpatient surgical services in the region. (Portnoy, 9/19)
The Boston Globe:
Protesters Target Children’s Hospital As Hundreds Rally To Defend It
A handful of protesters opposed to the services Boston Children’s Hospital provides to transgender patients faced off against hundreds of counterdemonstrators along Longwood Avenue for several hours Sunday as heavily armed Boston police officers kept the two groups separate. (Hilliard, 9/18)
Lurie Children's Hospital Gender Program Targeted On Twitter
Lurie Children’s Hospital has increased security and moved a transgender youth support group from in-person meetings to virtual ones after it became the latest children’s hospital to face criticism online over its gender development program. (Schencker, 9/19)
NC Cancer Hospital Named For Late Senate Leader Basnight
The North Carolina Cancer Hospital was formally named Monday for the late state Senate leader Marc Basnight, who helped approve the state funds to build the facility and later create a special state cancer research fund. (9/19)
Becker's Hospital Review:
Texas Hospital's Longest-Serving Nurse To Retire After 45 Years
Palestine (Texas) Regional Medical Center's longest-serving nurse is planning to retire in June 2023 after more than 45 years with the hospital. Regina Parish is a licensed vocational nurse who's worked in case management at Palestine Regional Medical Center for the past 22 years. She first joined the hospital, then called Memorial Hospital, in 1979 as a nurse on the surgical floor. In 1986, she transferred to a discharge planning position before moving to case management in 2000 when the town's two hospitals merged to become Palestine Regional Medical Center. (Bean, 9/19)
Sterigenics' Ethylene Oxide Emissions Lead To $363M Cancer Payment
Media outlets report on the court-ordered settlement after the medical sterilization company was found liable in a case brought by a woman who developed cancer. Johnson & Johnson is also in the news as cancer victims pressure the company over talc damages and its bankruptcy maneuvers.
Crain's Chicago Business:
Sterigenics To Pay $363M For Cancer-Causing Ethylene Oxide Emissions
Medical-sterilization company Sterigenics has been found liable by a Cook County, Illinois, jury for causing cancer in a Willowbrook resident. The company was ordered to pay Sue Kamuda $363 million after she took the company to court and claimed that emissions from its now-shuttered plant gave her cancer. (Jay, 9/19)
Jury Says Sterigenics Should Pay $363 Million To Cancer Survivor
Around the same time Sue Kamuda moved to Willowbrook during the mid-1980s, a Chicago company chose the west suburb as a new site for its rapidly expanding business sterilizing medical instruments, pharmaceutical drugs and spices. (Hawthorne, 9/19)
In updates on J&J bankruptcy —
Cancer Victims Urge Court To End J&J Bankruptcy Roadblock To Lawsuits
People suing Johnson & Johnson over the company's talc products urged an appeals court on Monday to revive their claims, saying the profitable company should not be allowed to use a bankrupt subsidiary to block lawsuits alleging the products cause cancer. (Knauth, 9/19)
J&J Tries To Block Baby Powder Lawsuits By 40,000 Patients. A Court Has Question
An attorney for Johnson and Johnson faced probing questions Monday over the corporation's use of a controversial bankruptcy maneuver that has frozen tens of thousands of lawsuits linked to Johnson's baby powder. During the hearing, members of a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia asked whether J&J had used the legal strategy to gain "a litigation advantage" over roughly 40,000 cancer patients who have sued the company. (Mann, 9/19)
In other pharmaceutical industry news —
Amazon PillPack Founders To Leave In Latest Health-Care Shakeup
Amazon.com Inc. is parting ways with the two founders of the drug prescription startup the company acquired to jumpstart its health care ambitions. TJ Parker, who co-founded PillPack with Elliot Cohen, informed employees that the pair would be leaving Amazon at the end of this month. “You should all be so proud of what we were able to achieve together,” Parker wrote in a note that he also posted on LinkedIn. (Day, 9/19)
Pfizer Accused Of Running A Fellowship Program That Discriminates On Racial Grounds
In a move reflecting simmering controversy over diversity and equity, Pfizer has been accused of running a racially discriminatory fellowship program because it “categorically excludes” white and Asian American applicants, according to a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group that includes doctors, patients, and policymakers. But some legal experts question whether the argument can succeed. (Silverman, 9/19)
House Democrat Presses Bill To Encourage More Diversity In Clinical Trials
Rep. Robin Kelly admits that the word “diversity” has scared some of her Republican colleagues away from her effort to improve representation in clinical trials. (Castillo, 9/19)
New CRISPR Startup Seeks To Fix Diseases Caused By Large DNA Errors
A new CRISPR startup — backed by some big names in venture capital — is planning to develop gene-editing treatments that can insert a genetic sequence of any length, at any location in the DNA strand, according to industry insiders and documents. (DeAngelis, 9/20)
Experts: Hurricane Fiona Won't Impact US Medical Supply Chain
A report in Axios says that while Puerto Rico has been ravaged by Fiona, experts expect medical supplies from plants on the island won't be impacted like they were by 2017's Hurricane Maria. Other news includes links between air pollution and cognitive decline, PCB contamination, and more.
Minimal Disruption To U.S. Medical Supply Chain Expected From Puerto Rico Hurricane
Puerto Rico may only be starting to take stock of the damage caused by Hurricane Fiona. But experts tell Axios indications are that medical supplies from plants there won't be disrupted the way they were when another storm ravaged the island in 2017. (Reed, 9/20)
In other environmental health news —
Clearing Pollution Helps Clear The Fog Of Aging — And May Cut The Risk Of Dementia
During the past decade, a growing body of research has shown that air pollution harms older adults’ brains, contributing to cognitive decline and dementia. What hasn’t been clear is whether improving air quality would benefit brain health. Two studies published this year by researchers at six universities and the National Institute on Aging provide the first evidence of such benefits in an older population. (Graham, 9/20)
Bangor Daily News:
Aroostook Superintendent Waited 3 Months To Inform 2nd School Of High Lead In Water
A Limestone superintendent who allegedly waited three months to notify the community of dangerous lead levels in water faucets also waited to inform parents of students at a neighboring town’s school, where he is also the superintendent. (Lizotte, 9/19)
Marin Independent Journal:
Marin County Sues Monsanto Over PCBs
Marin County and nine Marin cities and towns are suing Monsanto and two other companies for alleged damages caused by their sale of products containing PCBs. “PCBs have left a long toxic legacy,” Marin County Counsel Brian Washington said of polychlorinated biphenyls, a group of manmade chemicals once used in a range of commercial, household and industrial applications. (Halstead, 9/19)
Detroit Free Press:
U-M Researchers Need 100,000 Participants For Massive Study
From nonstick PFAS compounds to lead in water to soot and smog, Michigan residents are exposed to more industrial contaminants than most states, and those contaminants are known to cause adverse health effects, including cancer. But how much exposure, for how long, causes those illnesses? When do the warning signs arise, and how do changes occur over time? How do race, nutrition and other factors influence health outcomes? (Matheny, 9/19)
States Look To Help Tenants Pay For Air Conditioning As Climate Warms
Some states where air conditioning used to be a luxury that was needed only a few days a year are now looking at ways to help people stay cool in the increasingly hot summers. Oregon’s new law requires landlords to allow tenants to install portable air conditioners — either window units or free-standing models, depending on the apartment configuration — in multifamily dwellings. The state also provides money to pay for portable AC units for residents who can’t afford them. (Povich, 9/19)
Newsweek and Zenger News:
Extreme Temperatures Linked To Rise In Hate Tweets, Study Shows
A recent study has found a link between outdoor temperatures and the prevalence of hate speech on social media, which may, in turn, impact mental health. (9/19)
California Governor Vetoes Effort To Boost Student Mental Health Care
Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has been an advocate for mental health in schools, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. But in this case, he cited high costs for vetoing more private insurance access to care. Other news is from Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, Michigan, and North Carolina.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Gavin Newsom Vetoes Bill To Expand Student Mental Health Funding
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday vetoed a bill that aimed to help children with private insurance access mental health care at school, saying the program would cost too much. (Bollag, 9/19)
In other mental health news from Colorado and Massachusetts —
The Colorado Sun:
Most Colorado Counties Have No Mental Health Team For 911 Calls
More than half of Colorado counties lack a “co-responder” program in which a mental health professional joins law enforcement on police calls, including Clear Creek County where local officers shot and killed a 22-year-old man as he sat in his car. (Prentzel and Brown, 9/19)
The Boston Globe:
City Offers Training On Helping Those Experiencing Emotional Distress
Melrose has taken a new step to promote mental health in the community. This fall and winter, the city is offering free Mental Health First Aid training courses. Open to anyone 18 and over who lives or works in Melrose, the classes are intended to provide community members with the skills to better support friends, neighbors, and loved ones experiencing emotional distress. (Laidler, 9/20)
In news from Montana, Michigan, and North Carolina —
Montana To Allow Transgender People To Change Birth Record
After months of defiance, Montana’s health department said Monday it will follow a judge’s ruling and temporarily allow transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates. The judge issued a scathing order Monday morning saying health officials made “calculated violations” of his order, which had told them to temporarily stop enforcing a law blocking transgender people from changing their gender on their birth certificates unless they had undergone surgery. (Hanson, 9/19)
Detroit Free Press:
Detroit City Council To Consider New Restaurant Food Safety Law
City Council has debated and postponed votes several times on whether to require restaurants to post color-coded placards indicating their compliance status, similar to New York’s letter grading system, with some officials claiming the city is ready, while others are lobbying against it. District 3 Councilman Scott Benson spearheaded the proposed ordinance, which would not only require the postings but add at least two more inspectors in the Detroit Health Department. (Afana, 9/19)
North Carolina Health News:
A New Rural Family Medicine Residency Program
In rural areas, family medicine doctors often serve as both the foundation of the local health care system and the gateway to higher levels of specialized care. But not everyone has equal access to these providers. (Donnelly-DeRoven, 9/20)
Being A Late-To-Bed Person May Mean Higher Health Risks
Type 2 diabetes and heart disease risks go up if you are a night owl, a report in CNN says. Meanwhile, a different report says high blood pressure can be lowered by breath training, and a study asks if donating blood can harm blood donors. CBD foods and a Colgate recall are also in the news.
Night Owls Have Higher Risk Of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Study Says
If you prefer to go to bed and get up later -- a sleep chronotype known as being a night owl -- you may be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, a new study found. (LaMotte, 9/19)
High Blood Pressure Is Significantly Lowered With Breath Training
"The muscles we use to breathe atrophy, just like the rest of our muscles tend to do as we get older," explains researcher Daniel Craighead, an integrative physiologist at the University of Colorado Boulder. To test what happens when these muscles are given a good workout, he and his colleagues recruited healthy volunteers ages 18 to 82 to try a daily five-minute technique using a resistance-breathing training device called PowerBreathe. (Aubrey, 9/20)
A New Study Asks: Are We Harming Blood Donors By Taking Blood?
One question has plagued the field of blood donation for as long as there have been transfusions: Are we harming blood donors by taking blood from them? (Trang, 9/20)
The FDA Is Pushing Back On CBD-Filled Foods, Drinks
Major food makers are ready to cash in on selling CBD-filled foods and drinks. But the Food and Drug Administration isn’t having it. (Florko, 9/20)
Family Dollar Recalls Colgate Products After Being Improperly Stored
Family Dollar is recalling certain varieties of Colgate toothpaste sold across 11 states because products were stored outside of their recommended temperature requirements. In a recall notice shared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the affected items impact Colgate's Optic White toothpaste and mouthwash products. (Franklin, 9/19)
Viewpoints: Tennessee Abortion Law Has No Life-Saving Exceptions; Is The Pandemic Over Or Not?
Editorial writers examine these public health issues.
Law Will Punish Doctors For Saving Women's Lives Via Abortion
The Tennessee trigger ban on abortion makes it a crime to terminate a pregnancy for any reason. There are no exceptions to the law − not for rape, incest or even in cases where the life of the mother is in danger. Instead, the law contains only a narrow affirmative defense. (Chloe Akers, 9/19)
The Washington Post:
Biden Is Right. The Pandemic Is Over
President Biden’s off-the-cuff comment during a “60 Minutes” interview that “the pandemic is over” has sparked outrage from all sides. Republicans are accusing Biden of hypocrisy as he asks Congress for more covid-19 funding, while some on the left point to the disease’s continued death toll as evidence that the pandemic is nowhere near its finish line. (Leana S. Wen, 9/19)
Los Angeles Times:
No, Mr. President, The Pandemic Isn't Over
On “60 Minutes” on Sunday, President Biden declared “the pandemic is over.” Well into our third year of battling COVID-19, we all wish that were true. But unfortunately, that is a fantasy right now. All the data tell us the virus is not contained. Far too many people are dying and suffering. And new, worrisome variants are on the horizon. (Eric J. Topol, 9/19)
Organ Transplants: Black Patients Are Overrepresented On Waitlists
The words “Your kidneys are failing” mean two stark choices face the patient who hears them: go on dialysis for the rest of your life or until you can receive a lifesaving kidney transplant, the best treatment for kidney disease. Black Americans hear these words more than any other demographic in the United States. (Carlton Adams and Marty Sellers, 9/19)
Voice Training Is A Medical Necessity For Many Transgender People
When we do not affirm a transgender person’s identity, we may place that person at greater risk for anxiety, depression and suicide. It should be no surprise then that one’s voice can have a powerful bearing on quality of life for members of the transgender community.(Z Paige Lerario, 9/19)
Hospital Financing In Black And White
During our training as doctors, we have rotated through safety-net hospitals, elite academic medical centers, and private clinics. The resources for patient care and comfort were sumptuous in some facilities, spartan in others. (Gracie Himmelstein, Joniqua Ceasar and Kathryn E.W. Himmelstein, 9/20)
What's Ailing Healthcare In America?
Healthcare leaders want to know more than whether Congress will develop and pass legislative proposals that help the industry and, by extension, improve patient care. They want to know when, because the timing is critical. (9/19)
Different Takes: Examining The Current State Of American Mental Health
Opinion writers examine the state of mental health in America.
The New York Times:
Is America Really In A Mental Health Crisis?
What if the cure for our current mental health crisis is not more mental health care? (Danielle Carr, 9/20)
Our Kids' Mental Health Is As Critical As Their Grades. Here's How To Prioritize Both.
After children across America, including mine, experienced uncertainty, loss and isolation during the pandemic, it is no surprise that so many parents are worried about the mental health of their kids. (Dr. Vivek Murthy, 9/20)
The New York Times:
Who Is Going To Therapy In America?
The number of Americans seeking mental health treatment is on the rise. According to the C.D.C., a 2021 survey found that nearly one in four adults ages 18 to 44 had sought mental health treatment in the past 12 months. (9/20)
The New York Times:
What Is Mental Health In America?
America’s mental health crisis isn’t just about our unhappiness as individuals. It’s about the world we live in: our economy, our culture, our medical establishment. Americans have long treated mental health as a personal matter. But until we realize that society shapes our mental health and how we treat it, we won’t be able to feel better. (9/20)
The New York Times:
How Do We Turn Symptoms Into Words?
Several years ago, when I was reporting on clinics for people in the earliest stages of psychosis, I met many young patients who were struggling to express what was happening to their minds. They described their condition as disabling, but it was still so new that it had not remade their identities or social worlds. (Rachel Aviv, 9/20)
The New York Times:
We Have Reached Peak 'Mental Health'
A few months ago I received a referral for a new patient with a history of depression who’d made a serious suicide attempt. Perhaps unsure how to describe these episodes, the referring clinician wrote vaguely that the person had a “history of mental health.” (Huw Green, 9/20)