Kaiser Health News tells the stories of Georgia and the rest of the South. 

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Drug Price Bill Is a Go in the Senate

Two things happened in Washington this week that were inevitable: President Joe Biden tested positive for covid-19, and the Senate agreed to move forward on a budget bill that includes only a sliver of what Biden hoped it would. Still, the bill to allow Medicare to negotiate some drug prices, cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors, and extend temporary subsidies for Affordable Care Act insurance premiums would represent a major step if Democrats can get it across the finish line. Meanwhile, abortion battles continue to escalate around the country, with Texas leading the way in restrictions. Shefali Luthra of The 19th, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also this week, Rovner interviews Dr. Jack Resneck Jr., the new president of the American Medical Association.

Critics Worry Government Surveillance of HIV May Hurt More Than It Helps

Some people living with HIV and some state health officials are raising concerns about part of the federal effort to end the HIV epidemic: a new technology that analyzes blood samples to find emerging outbreaks. The critics say it’s too invasive and stigmatizing and might not be more effective than older public health approaches.

Boost Now or Wait? Many Wonder How Best to Ride Out Covid’s Next Wave

As the country faces a rise in new infections driven by the omicron BA.5 subvariant of the coronavirus, about 70% of people 50 and older who got a first covid-19 booster shot haven’t received the recommended second one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many undervaccinated Americans have lost interest, and others aren’t sure whether to get boosted again now or wait for vaccines reformulated to target newer strains of the virus.

Patients With Epilepsy Navigate Murky Unregulated CBD Industry

The FDA has approved a cannabis-derived drug, Epidiolex, to treat some forms of epilepsy. Now people who have other forms of the condition are using over-the-counter CBD products in hopes of taming their seizures. But doctors and patients worry about the unregulated world of CBD, in which product ingredients can be a mystery.

Crowdsourced Data on Overdoses Pinpoints Where to Help

University of Texas researchers are testing a program that would allow harm reduction groups to crowdsource data on fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses statewide. While the data relies on word of mouth, they say, it is more comprehensive than anything that exists now and can be used immediately to prevent overdoses.

Overdose Deaths Behind Bars Rise as Drug Crisis Swells

Drug-related mortality rates have increased in prisons and jails even as the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses has dropped. The pandemic lockdowns on visitors didn’t eliminate the problem, showcasing that guards have been a source of the contraband.