Wednesday, November 16, 2022 – Kaiser Health News


Kaiser Health News Original Stories
The Player-Coaches of Addiction Recovery Work Without Boundaries
States, tribes, and local governments are figuring out how best to spend billions of dollars from an opioid lawsuit settlement. One option they’re considering is funding peer support specialists, who guide people recovering from addiction as they do it themselves. (Rae Ellen Bichell, 11/16 )
How Optimism Can Close the Medicaid Coverage Gap
Low-income residents in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are in a tough spot: They don’t qualify for the subsidies that people with slightly higher incomes get to buy marketplace plans because of a glitch in the federal health law. But a court decision last year makes it easier for them to make good-faith estimates of a pay increase, and there is no financial penalty if they don’t hit that figure. (Phil Galewitz and Daniel Chang, 11/16 )
Watch: As Health Costs Spike, the Role of Hospitals Often Gets Overlooked
A new documentary, “InHospitable,” explores how disputes between big hospitals can leave patients with few options for care and imperil their health. ( 11/16 )
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of the sick and elderly:
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After Roe V. Wade
Judge Strikes Down Georgia's Stricter Abortion Law
The judicial order to cease enforcement of Georgia's 6-week abortion ban takes immediate effect. The state's attorney general office is appealing the decision.
AP: Judge Overturns Georgia's Ban On Abortion Around 6 Weeks 
A judge overturned Georgia’s ban on abortion starting around six weeks into a pregnancy, ruling Tuesday that it violated the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent when it was enacted three years ago and was therefore void. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney’s ruling took effect immediately statewide, though the state attorney general’s office said it filed an appeal. The ban had been in effect since July. (Thanawala, 11/15)
The Washington Post: Judge Overturns Georgia’s Six-Week Abortion Ban 
After Tuesday’s decision, abortion access in Georgia reverted to the pre-ban level of up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Andrew Isenhour, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), said in a statement that the ruling “places the personal beliefs of a judge over the will of the legislature and people of Georgia.” The Georgia attorney general’s office immediately filed an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. (Bellware and Roubein, 11/15)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Fulton County Judge Stops Enforcement Of Georgia’s Abortion Ban
Melissa Grant, chief operating officer and co-founder of Carafem, which operates abortion clinics in Atlanta and three other states, said the court ruling made her “cautiously optimistic.” She said Carafem’s Atlanta clinic had turned away hundreds of patients who were too far along for abortions under Georgia’s 2019 law. Now that the law has been struck down, the clinic is trying to determine what testing it might still need to do or if there is any new requirement for the maximum gestational age, she said. (Prabhu, 11/15)
More on abortion and reproductive rights —
NPR: Her Miscarriage Left Her Bleeding Profusely. An Ohio ER Sent Her Home To Wait
Christina Zielke and her husband were excited when she got pregnant in July. It was her first pregnancy at age 33 – everything was new. But during the ultrasound at her initial prenatal appointment in Washington D.C., there was no heartbeat. Bloodwork taken a few days apart showed her pregnancy hormone levels were dropping. (Simmons-Duffin, 11/15)
The New York Times: US Catholic Bishops Elect Leaders For Anti-Abortion Fight 
A week after bruising losses for anti-abortion forces in the midterm elections, America’s Roman Catholic bishops rededicated themselves to ending abortion and elected a slate of new leaders to support that goal during their annual meeting on Tuesday. … The bishops chose Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, as their new president. Archbishop Broglio supported religious exemptions for military service members who did not want to receive the Covid-19 vaccine “if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience.” (Dias, 11/15)
Politico: New Jersey Democrats Moving Toward Putting Abortion On The 2023 Ballot
New Jersey Democrats are expected to soon begin the process of asking voters to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution, with the goal of putting the measure on the ballot next year, when all 120 state legislative seats will be up. Democratic legislative leaders were already considering putting the question on the 2023 ballot prior to the federal midterm elections, in which the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade helped Democrats fend off Republicans in many Senate and House races, giving their party a far better midterm showing than many predicted based on historical and economic headwinds. (Han and Friedman, 11/15)
The 19th: Support For Abortion Measures Was Greater Than Support For Democratic Candidates In Some States
Ballot measures expanding abortion access and reproductive rights outperformed Democratic candidates in the three states they were put to voters in the 2022 midterms, while anti-abortion ballot measures lagged Republican politicians in two states, a 19th News analysis found. (Panetta, 11/15)
On male birth control —
Stat: After Many Setbacks, Scientists Make Strides On Male Birth Control
The headlines spelled the end of a short-lived scientific hope: “Male birth control study nixed after men can’t handle side effects women face daily,” USA Today announced. “Men Back Out of Male Birth Control Study Because They Couldn’t Handle the ‘Changes in Mood,’” proclaimed People. (Cummins, 11/16)
Related to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision language —
Salt Lake Tribune: In A Stunning Move, LDS Church Comes Out For Bill That Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage
The Utah-based faith’s doctrine “related to marriage between a man and a woman is well known and will remain unchanged,” the church stated in a news release. “We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.” (Kemsley and Fletcher Stack, 11/15)
Reproductive Health
Preterm Births In US Climb To 10.5%, Annual Report Card Finds
The March of Dimes’ latest report card gives the U.S. an overall D+ grade for its rate of preterm births, which can lead to infant death and have negative long-term effects on child development.
NPR: A Nonprofit Says Preterm Births Are Up In The U.S. — And It's Not A Partisan Issue
Preterm births are a leading cause of infant deaths and can have long-term effects on a child's health and development. And, according to a new report, they're on the rise. On Tuesday, the nonprofit March of Dimes released its 2022 Report Card, which grades the whole country as well as individual states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico on measures related to the health of moms and babies. (Treisman, 11/15)
CNN: US Gets D+ Grade For Rising Preterm Birth Rates, New Report Finds
Taking an in-depth look at premature births, the new report found that the US preterm birth rate rose to 10.5% last year, representing an increase of 4% since 2020 and the worst national rate since March of Dimes started tracking this data in 2007, based on its new calculation system. “This is actually a 15-year high in the preterm birth rate in this country,” said Dr. Zsakeba Henderson, senior vice president and interim chief medical and health officer at March of Dimes. (Howard, 11/15)
Bloomberg Law: Maternal Health Backers Seek To Add Bill To Year-End Package
A pair of House Democrats are leading a year-end push to bolster maternal health as part of the next spending bill.Democratic Reps. Robin Kelly (Ill.) and Lauren Underwood (Ill.) are gathering support for a package of maternal health bills (H.R. 959) that includes mandatory year-long Medicaid coverage after someone gives birth. (Ruoff and Baumann, 11/15)
In updates on the baby formula shortage —
Reuters: FDA To Review Baby Formula Production Rules To Prevent Bacterial Illness
The U.S. health regulator said on Tuesday it would review guidance and rules about manufacturing infant formula as part of its strategy to prevent bacterial illness similar to Abbott Laboratories' products this year. The Food and Drug Administration will also consider whether to establish a dedicated group of investigators and realign staff across two of its divisions to better support regulatory oversight of infant formula, among other measures, it said. (11/15)
Health Industry
'Amazon Clinic' Will Offer Virtual Care For About 20 Non-Urgent Conditions
The new service will offer help for conditions such as UTIs and erectile dysfunction and creates another rival for online companies Ro and Hims. However, Amazon's massive existing customer base could immediately set it apart.
AP: Amazon Plans New Virtual Care Offering Based On Messaging
Amazon is stepping back into virtual care with a new service that uses secure messaging to connect patients with doctors for help with nearly two dozen conditions. The retail giant said Tuesday it will launch “Amazon Clinic” in 32 states to provide medication refills and care for conditions like allergies, erectile disfunction, hair loss, migraines and urinary tract infections. That list does not include the flu, COVID-19, ear infections or other urgent care conditions for which patients often seek help through telemedicine. (11/15)
Modern Healthcare: Amazon Launches 'Virtual Health Storefront,' Amazon Clinic
The cost of each consultation will vary, but many conditions have quoted prices around $40. After describing their condition, patients will be led to an intake questionnaire and then connected to a clinician through a messaging portal. Prescriptions can be sent to any pharmacy, including Amazon’s own online pharmacy. The service does not accept insurance for visits, but users can choose to use FSA or HSA funds for payment. (Turner, 11/15)
Stat: Amazon Jumps Into Direct-To-Consumer Telehealth, Launching A Rival To Ro And Hims
Amazon’s reach could set it apart. Amazon already has reams of data on its existing customers, and millions of people using its website and products every day, said Matt McCoy, a medical ethics and health policy researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “I’d guess that the combination of these factors — having a massive existing customer base that it already knows a lot about — will give Amazon an advantage over competitors when it comes to steering people towards its telehealth partners,” he said, though the impact depends on how Amazon Clinic is advertised. (Palmer, 11/15)
Public Health
Lung Risks From Smoking Marijuana May Be Worse Than Cigarettes: Study
Media outlets report on a study that found smoking pot to be associated with potentially worse lung damage than tobacco-only cigarettes. Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the governor signed an executive order to partly legalize medical marijuana.
USA Today: Marijuana May Be More Harmful To Lungs Than Cigarettes, Study Suggests
Smoking marijuana may do more damage to lungs than cigarettes, a new study suggests. The study, published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Radiology, found marijuana may be linked to an increased risk of emphysema over smoking tobacco alone. (Rodriguez, 11/15)
NBC News: Smoking Marijuana Can Raise Risk Of Lung Disease, Chest Scans Indicate
The analysis by Canadian researchers, published Tuesday in Radiology, compared the chest scans of marijuana smokers and tobacco-only smokers who were matched according to age. They found that twice as many of those who inhaled cannabinoids developed paraseptal emphysema as people who smoked cigarettes only. (Carroll, 11/15)
In other marijuana news —
The Courier-Journal: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear Signs Order To Partly Legalize Medical Marijuana
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Tuesday to legalize the possession and use of medical marijuana by certain eligible individuals in the state, so long as it was purchased legally outside Kentucky and amounts to less than eight ounces. Kentucky is currently one of just 12 states to still outlaw marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, despite public polling showing the legalization of medical marijuana is quite popular among its residents. (Sonka, 11/15)
Detroit Free Press: Certain Marijuana Products Sold At Green Culture In Flint Recalled
Michigan's Cannabis Regulatory Agency announced Tuesday it recalled certain products sold by the marijuana dispensary Green Culture in Flint after the agency tested its products and found they contained unacceptable levels of banned pesticides, heavy metals, mold and bacteria. (Roberts, 11/15)
In news about opioids and addiction —
Reuters: Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug Likely Safe For OTC Use, Says FDA
Opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone may be safe and effective for over-the-counter use in some forms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday, potentially paving the way for its use federally. The FDA would still require data on individual products from manufacturers for them to be available over the counter at a federal level. (11/15)
Stat: Fentanyl Is Making It Harder To Start Addiction Treatment 
Doctors are reporting a troubling trend when it comes to fentanyl. The powerful drug, they say, isn’t just causing overdoses — it’s also making it more difficult to begin addiction treatment. In particular, fentanyl appears more likely to cause severe withdrawal symptoms for patients put on buprenorphine, a key medication used to treat opioid use disorder. (Facher, 11/16)
Anchorage Daily News: Anchorage Police Plan To Start Carrying Overdose-Reversing Drug
The new policy, confirmed by a police spokeswoman on Tuesday, marks a departure from the longstanding practice of having Anchorage Fire Department paramedics, rather than police officers, carry the potentially lifesaving drug. (Berman, 11/15)
KHN: The Player-Coaches Of Addiction Recovery Work Without Boundaries
Sarah Wright stops by her peer support specialist’s hotel room-turned-office in this Denver suburb several times a day. But her visit on a Wednesday morning in mid-October was one of her first with teeth. The specialist, Donna Norton, had pushed Wright to go to the dentist years after homelessness and addiction had taken a toll on her health, down to the jawbone. Wright was still getting used to her dentures. “I haven’t had teeth in 12½, 13 years,” she said, adding that they made her feel like a horse. A new smile was Wright’s latest milestone as she works to rebuild her life, and Norton has been there for each step: opening a bank account, getting a job, developing a sense of her own worth. (Bichell, 11/16)
Covid-19 Crisis
White House Asks For $10B More To Battle Covid
The money is sought by the end of the year to go to new vaccines and treatments. But on Tuesday Senate lawmakers voted to end the federal covid emergency declaration. NBC News' data analysis finds covid hospitalizations and deaths are falling in the U.S.
The Washington Post: White House Seeks More Covid Funding In Lame-Duck Session
The White House mounted another effort on Tuesday to secure billions of dollars from Congress for a new generation of coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even as Republicans remain skeptical about how past allocations were spent. Biden officials finalized a request this week for about $10 billion in public health funds by year’s end, part of a larger request in the lame-duck session of Congress that would also include funding for Ukraine and disaster relief for hurricane damage in Florida, according to six people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential budget discussions. (Diamond, 11/15)
The Wall Street Journal: Senate Votes To End Covid-19 Emergency Declaration 
Senate lawmakers voted on Tuesday to end the federal government’s emergency declaration on the Covid-19 pandemic, a status that has given the Biden administration tools to combat the coronavirus. The Senate voted 62-36 to end the emergency declaration nearly three years after it was invoked. It’s unclear if the House will take up the measure. President Biden threatened to veto any congressional efforts to end the national emergency declaration’s status, said the Office of Management and Budget in a statement. (Ferek, 11/15)
More on the spread of covid —
CNN: How To Protect Your Family Against Covid-19 Illness This Thanksgiving
With this year’s Thanksgiving the third since the onset of the pandemic, there are now many tools to help manage Covid-19 risk, including safe and widely available vaccines. But this coronavirus still presents a danger, especially to older people and those with chronic medical conditions. (Hetter, 11/16)
Stat: White House’s Jha Isn’t Predicting A Severe Covid Surge This Holiday
Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 coordinator, predicted Tuesday that the United States will not be heading toward another Covid-19 surge driven by holiday gatherings akin to the Omicron wave in 2021. (Florko, 11/15)
NBC News: Covid Deaths And Hospitalizations Are Falling In The U.S.
According to NBC News data, Covid deaths have fallen consistently since Aug. 31, when the seven-day average of daily Covid deaths was at 571. A month later, on Sept. 30, the number fell to 475. By Halloween, 365 were dying per day, on average, from Covid. (Edwards, 11/15)
CIDRAP: Long-COVID Rate May Be Similar Whether Hospitalized Or Not
Nearly 60% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and 68% of their nonhospitalized counterparts seen at two healthcare centers in Madrid, Spain, early in the pandemic reported still having at least one symptom 2 years later, suggests a study published today in JAMA Network Open. (Van Beusekom, 11/15)
Also —
Stat: ‘I Pushed Back’: Fauci On Becoming ‘Public Enemy No. 1’
As he faces the possibility of increased scrutiny from what is likely to be a Republican-controlled House, Anthony Fauci on Tuesday signaled he is willing to go to the mat to justify the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and viral research programs. “I’d be more than happy to discuss anything that we’ve done over the last several years with this outbreak, since I have nothing to hide and I can defend everything we’ve done,” Fauci said at the annual STAT Summit. (Joseph, 11/15)
Stat: Covid-19 Vaccines Were A Success, But MRNA Still Has A Delivery Problem. Two Startups Have An Unorthodox Solution
While billions of vaccine doses administered during the pandemic have generated reams of data about the safety and effectiveness of mRNA, they haven’t answered one of the field’s biggest questions: How do you send messenger RNA exactly where it needs to go in the body? (Wosen, 11/16)
Administration News
Senate Report: ICE Forced Women Into 'Unnecessary' Gynecological Exams
The findings were the result of an 18-month, bipartisan investigation into complaints of invasive procedures from women being held at a detention center in Georgia. Democratic Ga. Sen. Jon Ossoff called it "one of the most outrageous things this subcommittee has investigated over the past two years."
Newsweek: Ossoff Report: ICE Subjects Women To 'Excessive' Gynecological Procedures
Women held under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention were repeatedly subjected to "excessive, invasive, and often unnecessary gynecological procedures," according to a report issued this morning by the U.S. Senate. The report comes after a bipartisan investigation conducted over an 18-month period carried out by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs' Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by its Chair, Senator Jon Ossoff, a Georgia Democrat, and Ranking Member Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. (Rouhandeh, 11/15)
The Washington Post: ICE Failed To Stop Medical Mistreatment Of Female Detainees In Georgia, Report Finds 
The inquiry did not substantiate claims that women at the facility, operated by the for-profit company LaSalle Corrections, had been subjected to mass hysterectomies, as advocates initially claimed. But the investigation found that Georgia physician Mahendra Amin appeared to have performed “excessive, invasive, and often unnecessary gynecological procedures” on dozens of women detained for deportation proceedings between 2017 and 2020. (Sacchetti and Miroff, 11/15)
In other health news about the Biden administration —
The Texas Tribune: Federal Judge Blocks U.S. From Using Title 42 To Expel Migrants At Border
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the federal government from continuing to use an emergency health order known as Title 42 to immediately expel migrants at the southern border after they have entered the United States. (Garcia, 11/15)
Outbreaks and Health Threats
FDA Authorizes Roche Monkeypox Test; RSV Is Hitting Adults, Too
The test detects DNA from the monkeypox virus in swabs from people suspected of viral infection. In other news, CNN reports that RSV hospitalization rates are 10 times higher for seniors than usual — though still lower than for children. A measles outbreak is also spreading in Ohio.
Reuters: U.S. FDA Authorizes Roche's Monkeypox Test 
The U.S. health regulator on Tuesday issued an emergency use authorization to Roche's (ROG.S) test for the detection of DNA from monkeypox virus in swab specimens collected from people suspected of the virus infection. … The Food and Drug Administration said testing will be limited to laboratories that meet the requirements to perform moderate or high complexity tests. (11/15)
CIDRAP: Jynneos Vaccine Not Linked To Hospitalization, Serious Adverse Outcomes 
A non-peer-reviewed retrospective cohort study of 2,126 Jynneos monkeypox vaccine recipients identified 10 cardiac events that all had alternative explanations, and no hospitalizations or serious adverse outcomes were attributed to vaccination. The authors used vaccine recipients in the Kaiser Permanente Northwest system who were vaccinated with at least one dose of Jynneos between Jul 14 and Oct 10, 2022. (11/15)
On the spread of RSV —
CNN: RSV Hospitalization Rate For Seniors Is 10 Times Higher Than Usual For This Point In The Season 
This season, about 6 out of every 100,000 seniors has been hospitalized with RSV, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s significantly lower than the rate for children but still uncharacteristically high. In the years before the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitalization rates for seniors were about 10 times lower at this point in the season. (Christensen, 11/15)
The Washington Post: Parents Are Missing Work At Record Rates To Take Care Of Sick Kids
A new round of viral infections — flu, RSV, covid-19 and the common cold — is colliding with staffing shortages at schools and day cares to create unprecedented challenges for parents and teachers. More than 100,000 Americans missed work last month because of child-care problems, an all-time high that’s even greater than during the height of the pandemic, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Bhattarai, 11/15)
On the spread of measles —
Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Measles Outbreak Grows To 15 Cases At Child Care Facilities
A measles outbreak confirmed last week has swelled from four cases to 15 among children. So far, 15 cases have been reported at five child care facilities in the Columbus area, said Kelli Newman, spokeswoman for Columbus Public Health, which is investigating the outbreak. All cases were reported in unvaccinated children under the age of 4. (Filby, 11/15)
Health Care Personnel
Staff Shortages Lead To Difficulties In Discharging Patients
Axios says the issue of delayed discharges for patients in post-acute care is prompting calls for per diem Medicare payouts to cover extended costs. Also: children's hospitals' doctors are rallying over working conditions as the RSV surge stresses the system, the Washington Post reports.
Axios: Hospitals Are Struggling To Discharge Patients Due To Staffing Shortages
Health worker shortages are keeping hospitals from discharging patients for post-acute care and prompting pleas to Congress for per diem Medicare payments to cover the longer stays. (Dreher, 11/16)
More on labor shortages and equipment delays —
The Washington Post: Children's Hospital Doctors Rally Over Working Conditions Amid RSV 
Dozens of [hospital] residents and their supporters rallied Tuesday evening outside Children’s National Hospital in Northwest D.C. … as union negotiations continue with the Top 5 children’s hospital. Residents stood under makeshift tents in the driving rain across from the hospital as ambulances screamed by, carrying signs that read, “I’m tired,” “Children deserve healthy doctors” and “Fair contract = physician wellness,” highlighting the challenges providers face as respiratory illnesses stress the health-care system. (Portnoy, 11/15)
Modern Healthcare: CommonSpirit Reports $400M Loss Due To Labor Shortage, Inflation
The Chicago-based health system on Tuesday reported a net loss of $397 million for its fiscal year 2023 first quarter, compared with a $269 million gain a year ago. Operating revenue came to $9.01 billion in the quarter, a 5.4% year-over-year increase. (Hudson, 11/15)
The Colorado Sun: Colorado Paramedics Endure Delays In Ambulance Deliveries
Chris Marsh typically orders two new ambulances every year for Eagle County Paramedic Services. That keeps a steady flow of the crucial vehicles rolling into his stable of 14 ambulances that provide 24-hour service out of five stations in Eagle County from Vail to Gypsum. But no new ambulances were delivered this year. And it’s not likely any will come next year. (Blevins, 11/16)
In other health care industry news —
Modern Healthcare: Leapfrog Reports Hospitals Safety Improved Before COVID-19
Data from before the COVID-19 pandemic show promising improvements in hospital-acquired infection rates. Central line-associated bloodstream infections decreased 43%, MRSA cases declined 22% and Clostridioides difficile cases went down 8% between 2012, when the Leapfrog Group began grading hospitals on these measures, and 2019. (Devereaux, 11/16)
Modern Healthcare: Sanford Health, Fairview Health To Merge In $14B Deal
Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services have signed a letter of intent to form a $14 billion health system, the Midwestern nonprofit companies announced Tuesday. (Kacik, 11/15)
Modern Healthcare: UHS, Banner Health And 8 Others Partner With General Catalyst
General Catalyst, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, announced Tuesday it’s partnering with 10 health systems to create a digital health ecosystem. (Perna, 11/15)
The Atlantic: Do You Really Want To Read What Your Doctor Writes About You?
You may not be aware of this, but you can read everything that your doctor writes about you. Go to your patient portal online, click around until you land on notes from your past visits, and read away. (Qureshi, 11/15)
KHN: Watch: As Health Costs Spike, The Role Of Hospitals Often Gets Overlooked 
The documentary “InHospitable” explores the role hospitals play in a fractured U.S. health care system and how they have driven up costs. It presents stories of patients and activists who protested practices at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a behemoth health system headquartered in Pittsburgh. They asserted that UPMC was making vital care unaffordable and sometimes unattainable for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable patients as it fought a business dispute with a rival health system. (11/16)
KHN: How Optimism Can Close The Medicaid Coverage Gap
More than 2 million low-income people — half of them in Florida and Texas — are uninsured because they are stuck in a coverage gap: They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but because of a quirk of the Affordable Care Act, they earn too little to qualify for a subsidized ACA marketplace plan. The problem affects people in 11 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. (Galewitz and Chang, 11/16)
Lifestyle and Health
A Billion Young People Are At Risk Of Hearing Loss, Study Finds
A new study published in BMJ Journal places the blame on exposure to loud sounds from devices and music venues. Separately, The New York Times reports on rising frustration over Philips' response to CPAP device recalls. Also: mental illness diagnosis on TikTok, the power of pets, and more.
NPR: Devices, Loud Venues Could Cause Hearing Loss In 1 Billion Young People
More than 1 billion young people could be at risk of facing hearing loss, a new study shows. "It is estimated that 0.67–1.35 billion adolescents and young adults worldwide could be at risk of hearing loss from exposure to unsafe listening practices," according to the study, which was published in BMJ Journal on Tuesday. (Archie, 11/16)
CNN: Hearing Loss: 1 Billion People At Risk From Unsafe Listening
Turning down the racket isn’t just for disgruntled parents — a new study has shown it could protect more than 1 billion people at risk for hearing loss. (Holcombe, 11/15)
In other health and wellness news —
The New York Times: Frustrations Grow Over Philips’s Response To CPAP Device Recalls
By 2015, Philips Respironics knew its breathing devices had a problem: Foam inside the CPAP machines, which help people with sleep apnea breathe at night, was breaking off into black flecks and blowing into the mouths and noses of users. The company did nothing at the time. Years went by as complaints mounted, and the company made cursory efforts to examine the problem, according to an investigation conducted later by the Food and Drug Administration. (Jewett, 11/15)
The Washington Post: For Sleep Apnea, Cut Back On Junk Food And Alcohol, Research Shows 
Every night, millions of people lose sleep because of obstructive sleep apnea, a chronic disorder that causes periodic disruptions in nighttime breathing. But a growing body of research suggests that improving your eating habits by cutting out ultra-processed foods, cutting back on alcohol and increasing your daily steps can reduce symptoms of sleep apnea and potentially even eliminate it. (O'Connor, 11/15)
The Boston Globe: Teens And Young Adults Are Self-Diagnosing Mental Illness On TikTok. What Could Go Wrong?
But too often, experts say, suggestible people mistake having one or two symptoms with having the disorder itself. “If I were to go through the DSM” — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — ”and take a tiny snapshot of every diagnosis, we would all relate and self-diagnose,” said Alex Chinks, a licensed clinical psychologist in Needham. “A symptom of depression is fatigue. Well, I was fatigued all week.” (Teitell, 11/15)
Axios: Axios Finish Line: The Power Of Pets
Humans have had pets for tens of thousands of years — but the research on whether dogs and other pets can actually boost our mental and physical health is still relatively new. There are a slew of recent studies that have shown dog ownership can relieve stress and anxiety and push us to exercise more. (Pandey, 11/15)
Houston Chronicle: Clinical Trials Offer Hope For Treatment Of Pancreatic Cancer
When Houston resident Edgar Salazar began experiencing back pain, he didn't pay a lot of attention. When he began having trouble eating, he became more concerned. When his stomach became swollen, he couldn't keep food down and he began losing weight, he and his wife Joanna knew it was time to seek medical attention. (Kyle Morgan, 11/15)
State Watch
Affordable Health Care To Become Constitutional Right In Oregon
Although voters narrowly approved the ballot measure, the Oregon Capital Chronicle notes there's no prescription as to how to act on it. A settlement for a covid outbreak in a veterans home, LGBTQ+ discrimination, and more are also in the news.
Oregon Capital Chronicle: Oregon Will Be The First State To Make Affordable Health Care A Constitutional Right
Oregon will be the first state in the nation to enshrine the right to affordable health care in its constitution. Ballot Measure 111 narrowly passed, with nearly 50.7% of voters in favor and 49.3% of voters opposed. The measure’s long-term impact on Oregon health care is unclear because it doesn’t prescribe how the state should ensure that everyone has affordable health care. (Botkin, 11/15)
In nursing home news —
AP: Veterans Home COVID-19 Outbreak Results In $58M Settlement
A federal judge has approved a nearly $58 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed in response to the deaths of dozens of veterans who contracted COVID-19 at a Massachusetts veterans home. “It was with heavy hearts that we got to the finish line on this case,” Michael Aleo, an attorney for the plaintiffs said Tuesday, the day after the settlement was approved by a judge in U.S. District Court in Springfield. (11/15)
The Washington Post: Decades Of Neglect In Nursing Homes Spur Biden Plan For Staff Mandates 
Lisa Cabrera saw the warning signs of poor care at her father’s California nursing home — the bug bites on his back, the facial injuries from a fall, the times he was soaked in urine instead of being ready for trips to church. Still, she believed repeated assurances that the staff had inspected the pressure sore on his heel and changed the bandages. But her dad, Louie Sira, 67, a disabled former janitor, kept gesturing to his right leg, indicating he felt pain. Finally, Cabrera peeled the dressing back herself, which had grown worse since the last time she looked. (Rowland, 11/15)
In other health news from across the U.S. —
Dallas Morning News: Obamacare Discrimination Protections Don’t Apply To LGBT Patients, Texas Judge Rules
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Biden administration cannot prohibit doctors from denying certain medical care based on a patient’s sexual orientation and gender identity. (McGaughy, 11/15)
AP: 'Jeopardy!' Champ Says Ohio Bill Would Endanger Trans Youth
“Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider is opposing Ohio legislation that would ban gender-affirming procedures and therapies for minors. The Dayton native, who was the first transgender person to qualify for Jeopardy’s “Tournament of Champions,” is expected to attend a hearing on the bill Wednesday morning at the Ohio Statehouse. (Hendrickson, 11/16)
ProPublica: Missouri Allows Some Disabled Workers To Earn Less Than $1 An Hour. The State Says It's Fine If That Never Changes
One weekday morning in July, Kerstie Bramlet was at her workstation inside the Warren County Sheltered Workshop near St. Louis, Missouri, putting plastic labels on rabbit-meat dog chews one by one. The 30-year-old, who wore a St. Louis Cardinals shirt and a blue-and-white tie-dye hat, is autistic and has intellectual disabilities. (Hopkins, 11/15)
The Texas Tribune: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner Shares Details About Cancer Diagnosis
For more than four months, the mayor of the nation’s fourth-largest city let few people know he had been diagnosed with bone cancer. Not even his 35-year-old daughter was aware. (Fechter, 11/15)
Prescription Drug Watch
Children With Pneumonia Could Use Fewer Antibiotics; Birth Control Pills May Affect Teenagers' Brains
Read about the biggest pharmaceutical developments and pricing stories from the past week in KHN's Prescription Drug Watch roundup.
CIDRAP: Review: Shorter Antibiotic Course Sufficient For Kids With Pneumonia 
A systematic review and meta-analysis of previously published clinical studies provides more evidence that a short course of antibiotics is sufficient for young children with non-severe pneumonia. (Dall, 11/15)
ScienceDaily: How Hormonal Birth Control May Affect The Adolescent Brain
One aspect of hormonal contraceptives' effect on the teenage body remains a mystery — whether and how they modify the developing brain. (Ohio State University, 11/15)
CIDRAP: Report: Pharma Firms Must Boost Access For LMICs, R&D For Pandemic Threats 
The Access to Medicine Foundation's 2022 snapshot of 20 large pharmaceutical companies' progress in increasing access to drugs in the world's poorest countries reveals encouraging investments—as well as persistent COVID-19 vaccine inequity and a nearly vacant pipeline for products to treat or prevent emerging pathogens that have pandemic potential. (Van Beusekom, 11/15)
FiercePharma: ImmunoGen Gains FDA Nod For Advanced Ovarian Cancer Drug Elahere
After 41 years, ImmunoGen has scored its first approval for a solely owned drug. On Monday, the FDA signed off on Elahere to treat advanced ovarian cancer. (Dunleavy, 11/15)
FiercePharma: FDA Staffers Flag Concerns About Ardelyx's Kidney Disease Prospect
The FDA's rejection of Ardelyx’s chronic kidney disease prospect last summer drew a rebuke from the company and analysts. But as an FDA panel of outside experts gathers to re-assess the drug on Wednesday, it appears Ardelyx and the agency may lock horns yet again. (Kansteiner, 11/15)
Perspectives: Congress Must Fund The Fight On Superbugs; FDA Needs To Act Quickly On The Adderall Shortage
Read recent commentaries about drug-cost issues.
USA Today: A Drug-Resistant Infection Killed My Daughter. It Was Preventable.
Drug-resistant infections, otherwise known as antimicrobial resistance or AMR, will kill more people worldwide this year than HIV or malaria. (Diane Shader Smith, 11/15)
Los Angeles Times: Don't Let Adderall Scarcity Trigger A Repeat Of The Opioid Epidemic 
U.S. pharmacies are critically low on Adderall and its generic equivalents, leaving more than 26 million patients scrambling and competing for the pills since late summer. The scarcity is going to last for many more months because of supply chain problems as well as federal restrictions on manufacturers and imports. (Leo Beletsky, 11/14)
Arizona Republic: AARP Was Wrong To Back Medicare Drug Price Control. It'll End Up Hurting Seniors
There’s no way to get around it: the newly enacted Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) marks a terrible blow to American seniors. For the millions of older Americans on Medicare, the future of medical innovation is much dimmer, as will be their access to critical prescription drugs. But AARP – the supposed bastion of senior advocacy – is apparently unfazed. It recently concluded a victory tour, which included an event in Arizona celebrating the bill’s enactment as a historic achievement for seniors. (Jon Decker, 11/14)
The New York Times: Democrats Just Held The Senate. Here’s What We Do Next. 
Voters rewarded Democrats for protecting the lives and livelihoods of struggling families in a pandemic; modernizing infrastructure, not just talking about it; allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices; capping insulin costs for older Americans; making tax-dodging corporations pay up on billions in profit; lowering carbon emissions and reducing utility bills; and canceling student debt for over 40 million Americans. … Democrats delivered a lot, but we can do more to make Americans’ lives better. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., 11/12)
Editorials And Opinions
Viewpoints: Pediatric Health Care Must Be Prioritized; Ideas For Tackling The Mental Health Crisis
Editorial writers tackle these public health topics.
The Boston Globe: America Needs To Invest In Pediatric Health Care 
Parents in New England are asking pediatricians if their sick child may end up transported long distances to find a hospital room. As the six presidents of the New England state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, we have witnessed pediatric hospital bed closures and shrinking pediatric workforces, leaving the region ill-prepared for even expected seasonal surges in illness. (Presidents of the New England Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 11/16)
Stat: Unseen Mental Health Experts: People With Mental Illness
When I was seven years old, I watched as police carted my father out of the house and took him away. He had severe bipolar disorder and was experiencing what I know now to be an “episode” of this mental illness. (Ken Duckworth, 11/16)
Cincinnati Enquirer: Limits On Abortion Education Could Push Students Elsewhere
Will prominent medical schools, such as the Ohio State University College of Medicine or Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, prevent medical students from accessing abortion education? Or will they ensure the future of reproductive care in Ohio by teaching future physicians about abortions? (Denisse Morales-Rodriguez, 11/14)
San Francisco Chronicle: There's Still Reason To Be Worried About A National Abortion Ban
After the midterms, reproductive rights supporters may be feeling some relief. Without Republican control of the Senate, any chance of Congressional approval of a national abortion ban has evaporated. But looking ahead to 2024, there is good reason to be worried. (Rene Almeling and Adora Svitak, 11/15)
Newsweek: How Medicare Advantage Scams Seniors
Where billions of dollars flow, deceptive actors follow. And nowhere does deception run deeper than how health insurers lure seniors into Medicare Advantage plans—only to leave many retirees struggling to cover their out-of-pocket requirements when their incomes are their lowest. (Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Wendell Potter, 11/15)
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