- Kaiser Health News Original Stories 3
- Audits — Hidden Until Now — Reveal Millions in Medicare Advantage Overcharges
- Patient Mistrust and Poor Access Hamper Federal Efforts to Overhaul Family Planning
- After Election Win, California’s AG Turns to Investigating Hospital Algorithms for Racial Bias
- Outbreaks and Health Threats 2
- Unwelcome Guest For Turkey Day: Flu Hits High Levels In 30 States
- Study Finds 1 In 4 Female Monkeypox Cases Not Linked To Sex
From Kaiser Health News - Latest Stories:
Taxpayers had to foot the bills for care that should have cost far less, according to records released after KHN filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. The government may seek to recover up to $650 million as a result. (Fred Schulte and Holly Hacker, )
For decades, many women of color, particularly those with low incomes, had little control over their family planning care. Now, a White House effort aims to give patients more choices as abortion care evaporates, but patients remain wary of providers. (Renuka Rayasam, )
Attorney General Rob Bonta handily won election on a progressive, social justice platform. He’s already begun with an inquiry into hospital software programs that might bake in racial discrimination. (Mark Kreidler, )
Here's today's health policy haiku:
WHAT'S BEHIND THE LATEST COVID CASES?
No reason for spike —
often bad decisions by
so many of us
- Robert Pestronk
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 a KHN original story.
Opinions expressed in haikus and cartoons are solely the author's and do not reflect the opinions of KHN or KFF.
Summaries Of The News:
According to a New York Times story, an anti-abortion minister told Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts that he received advanced notice of a 2014 case related to contraception and religious rights. The news comes as part of the investigation into last spring's bombshell leak of the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Justice Samuel Alito denies that he or his wife were involved in the alleged older leak.
The New York Times:
Former Anti-Abortion Leader Alleges Another Supreme Court Breach
As the Supreme Court investigates the extraordinary leak this spring of a draft opinion of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a former anti-abortion leader has come forward claiming that another breach occurred in a 2014 landmark case involving contraception and religious rights. In a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and in interviews with The New York Times, the Rev. Rob Schenck said he was told the outcome of the 2014 case weeks before it was announced. He used that information to prepare a public relations push, records show, and he said that at the last minute he tipped off the president of Hobby Lobby, the craft store chain owned by Christian evangelicals that was the winning party in the case. (Kantor and Becker, 11/19)
Senate Panel Reviewing Alleged 2014 Supreme Court Leak Of Alito Opinion
The Senate Judiciary Committee is reviewing the possible leak of a 2014 Supreme Court decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito after a New York Times article suggested the justice or his wife discussed the opinion on contraception and religious rights before it was released. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chairman of the committee, said in a statement Saturday night that the allegations were serious and “highlight once again the inexcusable ‘Supreme Court loophole’ in federal judicial ethics rules.” (Dress, 11/20)
Lawmakers Urge Action After Report Of Other High Court Leak
Two fellow Democrats, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, who chair courts subcommittees, issued a statement calling the Times report “another black mark on the Supreme Court’s increasingly marred ethical record” and said they “intend to get to the bottom of these serious allegations.” They too urged passage of a code of ethics. (11/20)
Justice Alito Denies Allegation Of A Leak In 2014 Case About Access To Birth Control
Justice Samuel Alito denied allegations Saturday from a former anti-abortion activist that his wife, Martha-Ann Alito, played a role in revealing the outcome of a pending Supreme Court case in 2014. An Ohio woman friendly with the Alitos who was a donor to a Supreme Court-connected nonprofit group and allegedly served as a conduit for the sensitive information has also denied the claim. The allegation comes six months after a stunning breach of Supreme Court secrecy — POLITICO’s publication of the draft ruling authored by Alito that overturned the landmark, 49-year-old precedent guaranteeing a federal constitutional right to abortion. (Gerstein, 11/20)
The Alliance for Defending Freedom, which was involved with the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case, has asked a federal judge in Texas to overturn FDA approval of abortion medications up to the 10th week of pregnancy.
Opponents File Lawsuit Targeting Medication Abortions
Abortion opponents who helped challenge Roe v. Wade filed a lawsuit Friday that takes aim at medication abortions, asking a federal judge in Texas to undo decades-old approval of the drugs that have become the preferred method of ending pregnancy in the U.S. Even before the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to an abortion earlier this year, the use of abortion pills had been increasing in the U.S. and demand is expected to grow as more states seek abortion limits. (Weber, 11/18)
Anti-Abortion Groups Ask U.S. Court To Pull Approval For Abortion Drugs
The plaintiffs in Friday's lawsuit said the FDA improperly approved mifepristone for abortion in 2000 under an expedited process intended to allow patients quicker access to better treatments for an illness, even though pregnancy is not an illness, and waived a requirement to study it separately for pediatric patients. (Pierson, 11/18)
In abortion updates from Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri —
Georgia Asks Court To Immediately Reinstate Abortion Ban
Georgia officials asked a court on Friday to immediately block a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s abortion ban. The ruling allowed the procedure to again be performed beyond about six weeks of pregnancy. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney’s decision earlier this week was “remarkable” and relied on a “wholly unsupported theory that has no basis in law, precedent, or common sense,” the state attorney general’s office said in court documents filed with the Georgia Supreme Court. (Thanawala, 11/18)
Indiana Doctor: AG Shouldn't Get Abortion Patient Records
Lawyers for an Indianapolis doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio told a judge Friday that Indiana’s attorney general should not be allowed to access patient medical records for an investigation into undisclosed complaints. Dr. Caitlin Bernard; her medical partner, Dr. Amy Caldwell; and their patients sued Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita on Nov. 3 to try to stop him from accessing the records. The doctors claim Rokita’s conduct “violates numerous Indiana statutes,” including a state requirement that his office first determine consumer complaints have “merit” before he can investigate physicians and other licensed professionals. (Rodgers, 11/18)
St. Louis Public Radio:
Missouri Woman’s Abortion Triggers Federal Investigation
Missouri’s ban on abortion, enacted minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, contains an important exception. Not for cases of incest or rape, but for a “medical emergency. ”But that provision, written into the so-called trigger law passed by the Missouri legislature in 2019, only vaguely describes what a medical emergency is and contains no guidance on whether doctors can begin treating a patient before a medical situation becomes so dire that lives are at stake. (Wicentowski, 11/18)
Pence Says Fertility Treatments "Deserve The Protection Of The Law"
"I fully support fertility treatments and I think they deserve the protection of the law," Pence said in an interview with "Face the Nation" that aired Sunday. "They gave us great comfort in those long and challenging years that we struggled with infertility in our marriage." (Quinn, 11/20)
Despite Dangerous Pregnancy Complications, Abortions Denied
Weeks after Roe v. Wade was overturned, Dr. Grace Ferguson treated a woman whose water had broken halfway through pregnancy. The baby would never survive, and the patient’s chance of developing a potentially life-threatening infection grew with every hour. By the time she made it to Pittsburgh to see Ferguson, the woman had spent two days in a West Virginia hospital, unable to have an abortion because of a state ban. The law makes an exception for medical emergencies, but the patient’s life wasn’t in danger at that moment. (Ungar and Hollingsworth, 11/20)
Patient Mistrust And Poor Access Hamper Federal Efforts To Overhaul Family Planning
Two years ago, after an emergency cesarean section at a Mississippi hospital, Sherika Trader was denied a tubal ligation. Trader, now 33, was told that to have her tubes tied, she had to have a second child or a husband’s permission, even though she wasn’t married. Jasymin Shepherd had heavy menstrual cycles because of a birth control pill prescribed after the birth of her son 13 years ago. The symptoms continued even after she stopped taking the medication. Last year, a doctor in Jackson responded by offering Shepherd, 33, a hysterectomy, which she didn’t want. (Rayasam, 11/21)
In a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, R-Ill., Mike Carey, R-Ohio, and Troy Balderson, R-Ohio, wrote that they had "grave concerns" about the rollout of Oracle Cerner EHR.
Becker's Hospital Review:
Two Deaths Possibly Tied To Flawed Oracle Cerner VA EHR Rollout, House Members Say
Three members of Congress wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expressing concerns that the problematic rollout of the Oracle Cerner EHR at the agency could have played a role in the deaths of two veterans. U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, R-Ill., Mike Carey, R-Ohio, and Troy Balderson, R-Ohio, said they had "grave concerns" after visiting the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio. (Bruce, 11/18)
Did VA’s Health Records Problems Cause Two Patient Deaths In Ohio?
In the first case, a veteran connected to the medical center in Columbus, who was prescribed an antibiotic after a hospital visit, never received the medication because “the electronic health record provided erroneous tracking information for the prescription.” The veteran later died of medical complications. Lawmakers said In the second case, a veteran missed a regular medical check-up but that information was not properly transferred into the new system. As a result, “no outreach was attempted to reschedule the appointment.” The man showed up several months later at the medical center suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and died a few days later. (Shane III, 11/16)
In other news about veterans —
No More Mad Cow Worries, Banned Blood Donors Can Give Again
U.S. Army veteran Matt Schermerhorn couldn’t give blood for years because he was stationed in Europe during a deadly mad cow disease scare there. Now, he’s proud to be back in the donor’s chair. Schermerhorn, 58, is among thousands of people, including current and former military members, who have returned to blood donation centers across the country after federal health officials lifted a ban that stood for more than two decades. (Aleccia, 11/20)
News outlets cover data from Pfizer that show that its omicron-specific booster is better at tackling emerging covid subvariants than older shots are. Separately, the company's CEO Albert Bourla maintained that covid shots will remain "free" in the U.S. despite indirect costs.
Pfizer Says Omicron Booster Is Better Against New Subvariants Like BQ.1.1 Than Old Shots
Pfizer said its omicron booster triggers a stronger immune response against a number of emerging Covid subvariants circulating in the U.S. The booster triggered more antibodies against omicron sublineages BQ.1.1, BA.4.6, BA.2.75.2 and XBB.1 in adults older than 55 compared with a fourth dose of the original vaccines, according to new data released by the company on Friday. Antibodies are a key part of the immune system that block the virus from invading cells. (Kimball, 11/18)
Pfizer Booster Spurs Immune Response To New Omicron Subtypes
Pfizer said Friday that its updated COVID-19 booster may offer some protection against newly emerging omicron mutants even though it’s not an exact match. (Neergaard, 11/18)
More on vaccines and treatments —
Pfizer CEO Says Covid Jabs Will Remain ‘Free,’ Despite Indirect Costs
As Pfizer prepares to hike the price of its Covid-19 vaccines, the company’s CEO, Albert Bourla, maintained at a conference this week that the jabs will continue to be “free for all Americans” because insurers are required to pay the extra cost. (Feuerstein, 11/18)
The New York Times:
Will Covid Boosters Prevent Another Wave? Scientists Aren’t So Sure
As winter looms and Americans increasingly gather indoors without masks or social distancing, a medley of new coronavirus variants is seeding a rise in cases and hospitalizations in counties across the nation. The Biden administration’s plan for preventing a national surge depends heavily on persuading Americans to get updated booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Now some scientists are raising doubts about this strategy. (Mandavilli, 11/18)
The New York Times:
The End Of Covid Vaccines At ‘Warp Speed’
The Biden administration has launched a last-ditch effort to restore the country’s edge. In a bid to resurrect Operation Warp Speed, President Biden asked the lame-duck session of Congress this week for $5 billion for next-generation vaccines and therapeutics, as part of a broader $9.25 billion pandemic spending request. But Republicans, having blocked requests for next-generation vaccine funding since the spring amid complaints about how the White House spent earlier pandemic aid allocations, have shown no signs of dropping their resistance. (Mueller, 11/18)
The Washington Post:
Scientists Working To Develop New Lab-Made Antibodies To Fight Covid
In the evolutionary chess match between the coronavirus and humans, scientists’ next move can’t come soon enough for the millions of Americans relying on treatments known as monoclonal antibodies. These lab-made therapies are rapidly losing their healing power, forcing researchers around the world to devise new antibodies that are both more potent and more resistant to new variants. (Johnson, 11/21)
On the spread of covid —
San Francisco Chronicle:
Here’s How COVID Experts Are Handling Precautions For Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is approaching, and the pandemic picture is much different from the previous two holidays. Multiple vaccines, boosters and therapeutics are available, at-home testing is easily accessible, and most people have some form of immunity from vaccinations, prior infection or both. Most COVID restrictions have been lifted for many months now, including masking requirements. (Hwang, 11/19)
How Infectious Disease Experts Respond To Covid Nearly 3 Years In
The world is fast approaching the third anniversary of those days when we got our first inkling that a new disease was spreading in China. In the months that followed, normal life was suspended, then upended. At this point, everyone is well and truly sick of Covid-19 and the accommodations we have had to make to co-exist with it. (Branswell, 11/21)
NFL Games With Many In-Person Fans May Have Spiked COVID Cases
A study of National Football League (NFL) home games attended by 1.3 million fans suggests that those with high attendance were tied to subsequent county-level COVID-19 surges during the 2020-2021 season. (Van Beusekom, 11/18)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Wisconsin's Say Yes! COVID Home Test Program Expands Before Holidays
The state health department has expanded its "Say Yes! COVID Test" program to allow Wisconsinites to order five tests per month per household. (Shastri, 11/18)
Meanwhile, as RSV makes the rounds, health experts warn it's possible to get repeat infections, although a second infection is unlikely to occur immediately after a recent episode, Fox News reported.
Flu Rises To High Levels Across Most Of US
Flu activity is at high or very high levels in 30 states as the nation approaches the Thanksgiving holiday, with H3N2 still dominant but with a growing percentage of 2009 H1N1 viruses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said [Friday] in its weekly update. (11/18)
How Bad Is Flu? CDC Reports Most Of The U.S. With High Or Very High Flu Levels
Influenza continues its fast and furious spread across the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. Most of the worst of respiratory illnesses remain concentrated in Southern states like Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. There are signs that flu is ramping up in other areas such as Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, according to the CDC. (Edwards, 11/18)
The Washington Post:
RSV, Covid And Flu Push Hospitals To The Brink — And It May Get Worse
When Christina Anderson’s mother started having chest pains in October, they rushed to the nearest emergency room in their hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa. Because of her mother’s ovarian cancer diagnosis, Anderson assumed they would be seen within a reasonable time. Instead, their trip became a nine-hour odyssey. “When we first walked in, it was packed and unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” Anderson said. “I saw people laying across the chairs; some slumped over who had been there for hours before we arrived, and some even got frustrated and left because they couldn’t wait anymore.” (Malhi, 11/20)
RSV Surge Raises Questions About Repeat Cases: Can You Or Child Get It Again?
As respiratory syncytial virus, otherwise known as RSV, continues to surge across the United States, experts warn it’s possible people can be infected with it more than once. Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital on Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital this week, "A person can get RSV more than once in their lifetime." (Sudhakar, 11/19)
The Washington Post:
RSV Vs. Flu Vs. Covid-19 — What’s The Difference?
Cases of covid, flu and RSV are colliding, keeping kids home from school, straining hospital systems and prompting worries about a potential “tripledemic.” Cases of respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, have surged, the flu season has come early, and covid-19 cases are beginning to rise. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 5.8 percent of outpatient visits now are due to respiratory illnesses whose symptoms include fever plus a cough or sore throat, well above the normal baseline of 2.5 percent. (Amenabar, 11/18)
American Academy Of Pediatrics Urges Biden Administration To Declare Emergency Over 'Unprecedented' RSV Surge
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association are calling on the Biden administration to declare an emergency to a support a national response to an "alarming surge of pediatric respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza." (Norman, 11/18)
The Boston Globe:
Anxieties Rising As Supply Of Antibiotic Used For Children’s Infections Falls Short
“I got an automated call from CVS saying we don’t have your medication, and I was on hold forever. The next three hours were beyond hellacious,” said Jennifer Cronin, an Ashland mother who frantically tried to fill an amoxicillin prescription Thursday for her 4-year old son’s ear infection. (Lazar, Freyer and Bartlett, 11/20)
CIDRAP reports on what it says is the first global case study of monkeypox in female patients, which shows that as much as 25% of infections aren't related to sexual activity. The CDC also sent a warning to providers over resistance to the Tpoxx treatment.
Study Describes Monkeypox In Women; CDC Warns Of Tpoxx Resistance
The first global case study of monkeypox in female patients suggests that as much as 25% of infections in women are not linked to sexual transmission. ... [And on Thursday], the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a Health Alert Network notice to health providers about two cases of Tpoxx resistance in people treated for monkeypox. Both had underlying immunocompromising conditions. (11/18)
Monkeypox Case Reported At Houston Elementary School
A person associated with an east Houston elementary school is believed to have contracted monkeypox, the Houston Independent School District said on Friday. The district announced a person with a "presumed positive" case of monkeypox had been identified at R.P. Harris Elementary School. The district didn't say if the person was a student or an employee. (Wayne Ferguson, 11/18)
FDA Grants 3rd Monkeypox Test Authorization To Roche As Cases Decline
The FDA granted its third emergency authorization for a clinical monkeypox diagnostic to a high-throughput molecular lab test developed by Roche. The latest green light follows an October authorization handed to Abbott and its PCR test as well as one in September given to Quest Diagnostics. (Hale, 11/18)
The New York Times takes a look at the program, which is popular among participants but had stalled because Medicare wouldn't pay for it. The program found new life in 2020 because of reimbursement waivers tied to the pandemic public health emergency.
The New York Times:
What If You Could Go To The Hospital … At Home?
In November 2020, Medicare officials announced that, while the federally declared public health emergency continued, hospitals could apply for a waiver of certain reimbursement requirements — notably, for 24/7 on-site nursing care. Hospitals whose applications were approved would receive the same payment for hospital-at-home care as for in-hospital care. Since then, Medicare has granted waivers to 256 hospitals in 37 states, including to Mount Sinai in New York City and to Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Temple, Texas. Initially, hospital-at-home programs treated mostly common acute illnesses like pneumonia, urinary tract infections and heart failure; more recently they have also started dealing with liver disease treatments, post-surgical care and aspects of cancer care. (Span, 11/19)
The New York Times:
Which To Choose: Medicare Or Medicare Advantage?
The two plans operate quite differently, and the health and financial consequences can be dramatic. Each has, well, advantages — and disadvantages. (Span, 11/20)
Audits — Hidden Until Now — Reveal Millions In Medicare Advantage Overcharges
Newly released federal audits reveal widespread overcharges and other errors in payments to Medicare Advantage health plans for seniors, with some plans overbilling the government more than $1,000 per patient a year on average. Summaries of the 90 audits, which examined billings from 2011 through 2013 and are the most recent reviews completed, were obtained exclusively by KHN through a three-year Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which was settled in late September. (Schulte and Hacker, 11/21)
Axios takes a deeper dive into caregiving in America —
Baby Boomers Face A Unique Caregiving Crisis
Aging baby boomers in the U.S. are living longer and have better financial safety nets than previous generations. They're also more likely to be divorced, live far away from their children and be living with debt and a chronic condition. (Reed, 11/19)
Private Equity Tries To Reshape Elder Care
Private capital is pouring into the reshaping of elder care. (Pringle, 11/19)
Middle-Class Seniors Will Have To Spend Down To Pay For Long-Term Care
Long-term care will become an increasingly elusive need for aging baby boomers in the next decade, forcing some to spend down their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. (Goldman, 11/19)
Why Latino Elder Care Is So Challenging
Older Latinos — especially those who are noncitizens or live in poverty — are often kept from the health care resources advertised to help Americans age comfortably, researchers and advocates told Axios. (Moreno, 11/19)
The drug teplizumab was approved by the FDA on Thursday for use on patients with stage 2 Type 1 diabetes to delay the disease, but maker Provention Bio has priced it at a level above some analysts' expectations. Treatments for osteoarthritis and more are also in the news.
Provention Prices Diabetes Drug Above Analysts' Estimates At $13,850 Per Vial
Provention Bio Inc. has priced its diabetes drug teplizumab at $13,850 a vial, it said on Friday, a day after receiving U.S. approval and far higher than some analysts' expectations. ... The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved use of the drug for patients, with stage 2 of type 1 diabetes, to delay the onset of insulin dependence in those aged 8 years and above. (Mahobe and Srinivasan, 11/18)
In other pharmaceutical news —
Biosplice Sees A Pair Of Osteoarthritis Trials Fail
Biosplice’s bid to transform the treatment of everything from arthritis to cancer ran into a snag this week, with the San Diego biotech announcing that its experimental osteoarthritis drug failed to benefit patients in a pair of Phase 3 clinical trials. (Wosen, 11/18)
A Roller Coaster Journey In Search For Alzheimer's Treatments
More than a year after one of the most controversial drug approvals in FDA history, seniors and their loved ones may be on the cusp of having a new drug on the market that slows the progression of Alzheimer's disease. (Owens, 11/19)
They Were Diagnosed With Uterine Cancer And Tumors. Now They're Suing The Makers Of Chemical Hair Straighteners
Three years ago, Rhonda Terrell was diagnosed with an aggressive form of uterine cancer that has since spread to her abdomen and liver. She underwent a radical hysterectomy — the removal of the uterus, cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes — and tried to come to terms with the way the disease had altered her life. (Griffith, 11/20)
MRNA Revolutionized The Race For A Covid-19 Vaccine. Could Cancer Be Next?
The unprecedented success of messenger RNA vaccines against the coronavirus is raising hopes that the technology could lead to new and better vaccines against a much older public health scourge: cancer. (Wosen, 11/21)
How A Horse Breeder Launched The World's Largest Vaccine Manufacturer
From its humble beginnings as a horse breeding farm in India to becoming the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India has undergone rapid growth throughout the decades to reach its exceptional status. Yet success has not always come easy. (Gill, 11/21)
A tentative agreement centered on a new four-year contract with provisions for 22.5% pay raises and more staffing, averting a strike that Fierce Healthcare says would have been the largest private sector nursing strike in U.S. history. Also: UnitedHealthcare and AARP, Wisconsin school nurses and more.
Kaiser Permanente Inks Tentative Deal To Avert Nurses' Strike
About 22,000 nurses and nurse practitioners reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente on a new four-year contract that includes provisions for a 22.5% raise and increased staffing. The tentative deal averted what would have been the biggest private-sector nurses' strike in American history. Nurses working at nearly two dozen Kaiser Permanente locations planned a two-day strike that was set to begin on Monday. (Landi, 11/20)
On health care costs —
UnitedHealthcare, AARP Team Up To Lower The Cost Of Hearing Aids
UnitedHealthcare and AARP are teaming up on a new program to reduce the cost of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. ... Through AARP Hearing Solutions, which UnitedHealthcare is now administering, the nearly 38 million members of AARP can buy hearing aids through UnitedHealthcare Hearing. Prices start as low as $699 per hearing aid, according to the company, and members also get professional support from a licensed hearing professional plus personalized assistance from UnitedHealthcare Hearing during and after purchase. (Landi, 11/18)
Patient Groups Push Government To Enforce Price Estimates
People don’t receive bills after going to a grocery store or a mechanic’s shop. They know what things will cost them well before they leave. But in health care, patients get bills and “explanations of benefits” after the fact — usually creating confusion or shock as to how much they owe. (Herman, 11/21)
In other health care industry news —
The Boston Globe:
N.H. Doctor Allegedly Misread Mammograms, Ultrasounds Of Two Dozen Women Later Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Patricia Eddy had always believed in early detection of breast cancer, and she was relieved when her mammograms in 2015, 2016, and 2017 revealed nothing suspicious. It wasn’t until later that she learned the alarming truth: Those three annual screening tests had shown signs of cancer, she said, but her New Hampshire radiologist, Dr. Mark Guilfoyle, had missed them every time. (Saltzman, Ostriker and Kowalczyk, 11/19)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
$8.2 Million Grant Will Bolster Wisconsin School Nurse Workforce
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently announced an $8.2 million investment to help K-12 schools across the state hire and retain school nurses. Milwaukee will receive more than $1 million of the funds. (Wells, 11/18)
Q&A: CEO On Monetizing Health Data From IBM Watson's Wreckage
A company being built from the ashes of IBM’s Watson Health division is launching new lines of business with a much different message: The real value is in the health data, not the fancy AI engine it might eventually power. (Ross, 11/21)
Two people were hospitalized in Michigan and Nevada. CIDRAP says sequencing shows that the patients' samples are closely related and that they probably got sick from the same food. Separately, AP says schools are struggling to staff up to combat the youth mental health crisis.
Enoki Mushroom Listeria Outbreak Sickens People In 2 States
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday announced a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms that has hospitalized two people in Michigan and Nevada. Enoki mushrooms have long, thin stems and are a popular ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean food, usually eaten cooked in soups, stir fries, and hot pots. (11/18)
In mental health news —
Schools Struggle To Staff Up For Youth Mental Health Crisis
Despite an influx of COVID-19 relief money, school districts across the country have struggled to staff up to address students’ mental health needs that have only grown since the pandemic hit. Among 18 of the country’s largest school districts, 12 started this school year with fewer counselors or psychologists than they had in fall 2019, according to an analysis by Chalkbeat. As a result, many school mental health professionals have caseloads that far exceed recommended limits, according to experts and advocates, and students must wait for urgently needed help. (Wall, Belsha and Ma, 11/18)
Depression As Marketing - Influencers And Mental Health
Open conversations about mental health are as important as ever — and social media influencers can play a key role in starting them. Sometimes, however, the line between raising awareness and marketing can get blurred. (Kiderlin, 11/21)
In other health and wellness news —
'Amazing': Mom Hears Late Daughter's Transplanted Heart
An Indiana woman heard the heartbeat of her late daughter inside the chest of a 68-year-old Illinois man who received it in a transplant operation. Amber Morgan and Tom Johnson met for the first time Saturday, four years after he received a heart transplanted from the body of Andreona Williams, who was 20 when she died from asthma complications. (11/20)
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, The Treatment Jay Leno Is Getting?
Jay Leno remained hospitalized Friday after he underwent surgery following a gasoline accident that resulted in serious burns to his face and hands. The injury took place after a gasoline fire erupted in the legendary comedian and "Tonight Show" host's garage over the weekend. While he was working on his car, a clogged fuel line uncorked, spraying fuel in his face and a nearby spark ignited the gasoline. (Neysa Alund, 11/18)
The Washington Post:
How To Cope With Dupuytren's, A Crippling Hand Condition
Fifteen years ago, Jack Schultz first noticed several of his fingers curling inward toward his palm. Schultz, 75, of Columbia Station, Ohio, a retired manager of a plastics company, was perplexed. “What is this?” he recalls asking his doctor. “And can you fix it?” The doctor knew what it was: Dupuytren’s disease (also known as Dupuytren’s contracture), a hand deformity that usually takes years to advance and often begins with lumps, or nodules, that are sometimes painful, in the layer of connective tissue under the skin in the palm. The lumps can develop into cords that pull one or more fingers into a bent position, often the ones farthest from the thumb, such as the ring finger and pinkie. (Cimons, 11/20)
Scientist Probes The Internal Clocks That Help Parasites Infect People
In the 1700s, French astronomer Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan noticed that the leaves of the mimosa plant opened towards the sun and closed at dusk. His discovery was in keeping with thousands of years of observations. But de Mairan also found that the plant followed the same rhythm even in the constant darkness of a cupboard, suggesting that some innate metronome kept the plant in sync with the rotation of the earth. (DiCorato, 11/21)
Media outlets report on a surge in anti-trans and other anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment and laws over recent years, including in Colorado Springs — the site of a deadly shooting over the weekend. Lead poisoning in kids, mental health in Missouri, racial bias in hospital algorithms and more are in the news.
Spike In Anti-Trans Rhetoric Ahead Of Colorado LGBTQ Club Shooting
A rapid increase in recent anti-trans and anti-gay rhetoric and protests set up violence like the overnight murders at Colorado Springs’ Club Q, political scientists and activists trying to keep their communities safe say. (Booth, Breunlin and Krause, 11/20)
The Colorado Shooting Comes In A Year Rife With Anti-LGBTQ Sentiment, Advocates Say
The tragic shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ club in Colorado, is the latest event to transpire in a year marked with a jump in anti-LGBTQ legislation and sentiment, according to LGBTQ advocates. The shooting, the deadliest attack on LGBTQ people in the U.S. since the Pulse shooting in 2016, occurred on the eve of this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance. Just days earlier, the National Center for Transgender Equality released a report finding that at least 47 transgender people were killed in the past year. (Heyward, 11/21)
Anti-LGBTQ Sentiment In Colorado Springs Had Some In The Community Anticipating Tragedy
Parker Grey stopped going to the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q about a year and half ago “because of the growing hatred for our community that started in” Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Griffith and Yurcaba, 11/21)
In other health news from across the U.S. —
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Early Intervention May Help Improve The Recovery Of Lead-Poisoned Kids
Even though city officials have taken steps to remove lead hazards — including a recent plan to spend more than $20 million in federal pandemic relief on the effort — more than 1,000 children tested last year had elevated lead levels in their blood. Now, researchers are finding new ways to help those children. (Shelbourne, 11/18)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Missouri's Mental Health Ranking Is Among The Worst In The Country. Why And How Can It Be Fixed?
Lauren Davis has tried for four months to find a therapist for her 7-year-old daughter.She called 10 local therapists trying to get an appointment. Half of them told her they were not taking any new patients and that their waiting lists were full. The other half said they would put her name on a list but could not say when her turn might arrive. It could take several months — or longer. (Sultan, 11/20)
New Mexico In Depth:
Politics Trumps Health In State’s Response To Alcohol Crisis
In February 2021, as New Mexico lawmakers considered landmark legislation to loosen restrictions on alcohol sales, the state’s alcohol epidemiologist Annaliese Mayette set out to assess the bill. Excessive drinking kills people in New Mexico at a faster clip than anywhere else in the country, and the proposal would make it easier for restaurants to serve liquor and allow residents to order alcohol delivered directly to their homes. The intention was to buoy hospitality businesses hard-hit by pandemic-era shutdowns. (Alcorn, 11/19)
Program Graduates Say Drug Crisis Team Is Saving Lives
Allen Thomas, 57, recalls when Columbus first responders saved his life in June from a drug overdose in a hotel — and then again days later. “If it wasn’t for them, I’d be dead,” Thomas said. “And it’s a shame because there’s people out there now, passing away from this epidemic.” (Behrens, 11/21)
After Election Win, California’s AG Turns To Investigating Hospital Algorithms For Racial Bias
California Attorney General Rob Bonta sailed to victory in the Nov. 8 election, riding his progressive record on reproductive rights, gun control, and social justice reform. As he charts a course for his next four years, the 50-year-old Democrat wants to target racial discrimination in health care, including through an investigation of software programs and decision-making tools used by hospitals to treat patients. Bonta, the first Filipino American to serve as the state’s top prosecutor, asked 30 hospital CEOs in August for a list of the commercial software programs their facilities use to support clinical decisions, schedule operating rooms, and guide billing practices. In exchange, he offered them confidentiality. His goal, Bonta told KHN, is to identify algorithms that may direct more attention and resources to white patients than to minorities, widening racial disparities in health care access, quality, and outcomes. (Kreidler, 11/21)
Editorial writers discuss obesity, rural hospitals, and children's health care.
The New York Times:
Scientists Don’t Agree On The Cause Of Obesity — Does It Matter?
A select group of the world’s top researchers studying obesity recently gathered in the gilded rooms of the Royal Society, the science academy of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, where ideas like gravity and evolution were once debated. (Julia Belluz, 11/21)
Rural Hospitals Are Closing, And Congress Needs To Step In
Since the beginning; of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as 25 rural community hospitals have shuttered, dropped in-patient care or severely cut services. (Chip Kahn and Alan Morgan, 11/18)
The CT Mirror:
Covering Undocumented Children Is A Healthcare Win
Over the past 20 years, there have been extensive federal and state efforts to expand affordable health care coverage to millions of adults and children. In fact, the uninsured population in the United States has reached an historic low of 8.8%. But do these expansions cover everyone? What if you’re undocumented? (Esme Ostrowicz-Levine, 11/21)