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In health news, the public health emergency label for COVID-19 will end on May 11, which will likely spell the end of free testing.
Welcome to The Hill Healthcare Roundup, where we follow the latest developments in policies and news concerning your health. Have been Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi.
The end of the public health emergency will eliminate free tests
The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11 will mark the end of an era in the US healthcare system, as many Americans will have to start paying for care that over the past three years has been free.
Experts said the changes related to the public health emergency would not be earth-shattering.
When the public health emergency ends, the biggest change the majority of Americans will face will be that the days of free and easily accessible COVID-19 testing will likely come to an end.
- Currently, anyone with private insurance can take up to eight tests per month. This will disappear once the emergency is over. Private insurance may no longer cover the full price of over-the-counter tests, and patients may need a prescription for a PCR test.
- Vaccines and treatments will always be free, as long as the government supply lasts.
- “On May 12, you can still walk into a pharmacy and get your bivalent vaccine. Free. On May 12, if you contract COVID, you can still get your Paxlovid. Free. None of this changes,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha tweeted Wednesday.
The biggest shock to the public is likely to come once the federal supply of vaccines and treatments is exhausted and the costs shift to the private sector.
Overall, the changes to America’s health care system as a result of COVID-19 were likely “the closest we’ve probably come to universal health coverage in the United States,” said Jen Kates, vice president. head office of KFF, formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Bipartisan senators slam FDA over vaping regulations
A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday denounced the “repeated failures” of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate e-cigarettes and take action against companies illegally marketing products to minors.
Led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), lawmakers sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urging him to “do everything in your power to right the ship and take meaningful action to fix the persistent failures of FDA leadership and prevent young people from being addicted to nicotine for life.
Extremely late: The FDA currently has 16 months past a court-ordered deadline to finish reviewing e-cigarette applications, and lawmakers have criticized the agency for saying it needs another six months to complete its work on electronic cigarettes with the largest market share.
An estimated one million children are now at risk of contracting vaping before the FDA completes its review, Durbin said.
- Durbin has been a leading Senate advocate against youth vaping and has repeatedly called on federal regulators to better protect children by immediately removing e-cigarettes and vaping products from store shelves.
- “For nearly a decade, the agency has neglected its duty under the law to regulate e-cigarettes, putting the health of millions of children at risk. Now, after yet another delay in the FDA’s efforts to regulate the e-cigarette market, it is now clear to us that the FDA is adrift and that lives are at risk,” the lawmakers wrote.
SURVEY: WIDESPREAD CONFUSION OVER ACCESS TO ABORTION MEDICINES
Nearly half of all adults in the United States don’t know if medical abortion is legal where they live, according to a survey released Wednesday by the KFF.
At least 4 in 10 adults – 41% of them women of childbearing age – said they were “not sure” that the medical abortion drug mifepristone was legal where they lived.
The results show the continuing widespread confusion over access to medical abortion, the most common way people end a pregnancy.
The inquest was conducted Jan. 17-24, more than six months after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right of Roe v. Wade to abortion.
Many states with strict abortion bans also limit the availability of mifepristone — a drug that blocks hormones needed for pregnancy — either through restrictions on who can prescribe and dispense the pill or outright bans.
US HEALTHCARE COSTS NEARLY DOUBLE THAT OF OTHER WEALTH NATIONS
In 2021, the United States spent 17.8% of its GDP on health care, nearly double the average of 9.6% for high-income countries, according to a new report by The Commonwealth Fund.
Per capita health spending in the United States was three or four times that of countries like South Korea, New Zealand and Japan.
The researchers compared data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics Database 2022 and the Commonwealth Fund’s International Health Policy Survey 2022.
Avoidable mortality: Additionally, the preventable death rate in the United States was 336 deaths per 100,000 population in 2020, compared to the OECD average of 225.
Their analysis suggests that overall health in the United States is worse than in other high-income countries. Life expectancy at birth in the United States is three years lower than the OECD average. The obesity rate in the United States is almost double the OECD average at around 43% compared to the OECD average at 25%. Next come New Zealand (34%), Australia (30%) and the United Kingdom (28%).
GoodRx accused of illegally sharing health data
Telemedicine company GoodRx allegedly shared sensitive personal health information with Google, Facebook and other companies to target ads to users, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by federal regulators.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has alleged that GoodRx, a company that allows users to compare drug prices and receive coupons, shared sensitive information about users’ prescriptions and health conditions with advertising platforms that allowed them to target ads to specific health conditions and medications. , despite claims that the company would not.
- The order, filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the FTC, seeks to prohibit GoodRx from sharing health data with advertisers. It would also force the company to order third parties, such as Google and Facebook, to delete data that was previously shared with them.
- In addition to the proposed actions, GoodRx agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine, according to the FTC. The order is subject to the approval of a federal court.
- An FTC official said if companies didn’t pay attention to the rule before, they will now. The official said the order filed against GoodRx will be a sign to the industry that the agency is not taking the matter lightly.
This is the first enforcement action the FTC has taken under its Health Damage Notification Rulethat requires vendors of personal health records and related entities to notify consumers and the FTC when such data is disclosed or acquired without consumer permission.
GoodRX, in a statement, said it disagreed with the FTC’s allegations and did not admit to wrongdoing under the agreement.
WHAT WE READ
- Medicare could test the policy of paying less for fast-track drugs (Statistical)
- Vaccine makers have kept $1.4 billion in prepayments for canceled covid vaccines for the world’s poor (New York Times)
- The Republicans are breaking with another historical ally: the doctors (Axios)
- The supply of Wegovy weight-loss drugs is expected to improve over the next few months, according to the company (BNC News)
STATE BY STATE
- A bill from Mass. reduce prison sentences for organ donation. A lawyer calls the measure “unethical and depraved”. (boston.com)
- Revival of Indiana’s public health agenda clears legislative panel (Washington Times-Herald)
- Red tide stains Lee County waters again, state health department issues advisory (News-press)
THE OP-ED HILL
Restoring Public Confidence in Public Health
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