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Healthcare — COVID testing, treatment can quickly become costly

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In Health News, the public health emergency label for COVID-19 ends on May 11th. This may end the free test.

Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care RoundupFollow the latest developments in policy and news that affect your health. Nathaniel Weisel and Joseph Choi.

Free tests will be phased out once the public health emergency is over

The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11 marks the end of an era for the US healthcare system. Many Americans will have to pay for health care that has been free for the past three years.

Experts say the changes related to the public health emergency will not be large-scale.

The biggest change facing most Americans when the public health emergency ends is that the era of free and easily accessible COVID-19 testing will likely end.

  • Currently, anyone with private insurance can have up to eight tests per month. It will disappear when the emergency declaration is over. Private insurance may no longer cover the full cost of over-the-counter testing, and patients may first need a prescription for PCR testing.
  • Vaccines and treatments will continue to be free as long as government supplies continue.
  • “Even on May 12th, you can still walk into the pharmacy and get the bivalent vaccine. Free. If you have COVID on May 12th, you can still get Paxlovid. No change,” Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, tweeted on Wednesday.

The biggest shock to the public is likely to come when the federal supply of vaccines and treatments runs out and the costs shift to the private sector.

Overall, the changes made to the U.S. healthcare system as a result of COVID-19 were perhaps “the closest thing to universal health coverage in the U.S.,” said Jen Cates, KFF senior vice president. . Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Bipartisan senator slams FDA for e-cigarette regulation

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had “repeated failures” to regulate e-cigarettes and take action against companies illegally selling their products to minors. condemned.

Lawmakers, led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra saying, “We will do everything in our power to fix the ship, to correct the FDA’s persistent leadership failures, and to make meaningful progress.” Please take action,” he urged. Prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine for life. ”

very late: The FDA is now 16 months past the deadline for a court order ending review of e-cigarette applications, and lawmakers say they need another six months to complete their work on e-cigarettes, which have the largest market share. criticized the FDA.

An estimated 1 million children may be at risk from smoking e-cigarettes before the FDA completes its review, Durbin said.

  • Senator Durbin is a leading advocate against youth e-cigarette use and has urged federal regulators to do more to protect children by immediately removing e-cigarettes and e-cigarette products from store shelves. He repeatedly asked me to do a good job.
  • “For nearly a decade, government agencies have neglected their obligations under laws to regulate e-cigarettes, putting the health of millions of children at risk. Now, even later, it’s clear that FDA is adrift and lives are in danger,” the lawmaker wrote.

Please check this out for details.

Investigation: Widespread Confusion About Access to Abortion Drugs

Nearly half of all adults in the United States are unsure if medical abortion is legal where they live, according to a survey released Wednesday by the KFF.

More than four in 10 adults, including 41% of women of childbearing age, said they were not sure whether the abortion drug mifepristone was legal where they lived.

Findings show that confusion continues to be widespread over access to medical abortion, the most common way for people to terminate pregnancies.

The survey was conducted from January 17th to 24th. This comes more than six months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade’s constitutional right to abortion.

Many states with strict abortion bans also limit the availability of mifepristone (a drug that blocks hormones needed for pregnancy). This is either by restricting who can prescribe and dispense the pill, or by banning it entirely.

Please check this out for details.

Health care costs in the US are almost double that of other wealthy countries

According to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund, the United States will spend 17.8% of its GDP on health care in 2021, almost double the high-income average of 9.6%.

Per capita healthcare spending in the United States was three to four times higher than countries such as South Korea, New Zealand, and Japan.

Researchers compared data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics Database 2022 and the Commonwealth Fund Global Health Policy Survey 2022.

Preventable Mortality: Furthermore, the avoidable death rate in the US in 2020 was 336 per 100,000 people, compared to an 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 US is three years below the OECD average. Obesity rates in the United States are almost double the OECD average, at about 43%, compared to the OECD average of 25%. The next highest countries are New Zealand (34%), Australia (30%) and the UK (28%).

Please check this out for details.

GoodRx accused of unlawfully sharing health data

Telemedicine company GoodRx shared sensitive personal health information with Google, Facebook and other companies to serve targeted ads to users, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by federal regulators. It has been with.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allows GoodRx, a company that allows users to compare drug prices and receive coupons, to share sensitive information about their users’ prescriptions and health conditions with advertising platforms, allowing them to access certain health conditions. and pharmaceutical ads to target users. , even though the company claims it doesn’t.

  • The order, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, prohibits GoodRx from sharing health data with advertisers. Additionally, third parties such as Google and Facebook must be instructed by the company to delete previously shared data.
  • In addition to the proposed actions, GoodRx agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine, according to the FTC. This order is subject to federal court approval.
  • FTC officials say businesses, if they didn’t pay attention to the rule in the past, will now. The official said the order filed against GoodRx shows the industry that the agency is not taking the issue lightly.

This is the first enforcement action the FTC has taken under the Health Breach Notification Rule, and personal health record vendors and related entities will be prohibited from consuming consumer health records if that data is disclosed or obtained without the consumer’s permission. You must notify your employer and the FTC.

In a statement, GoodRX said it disagreed with the FTC’s allegations and did not admit wrongdoing as part of the agreement.

Please check this out for details.

what we are reading

  • Medicare may test policy to reduce payments for accelerated approval drugs (Stat)
  • Vaccine makers kept $1.4 billion up front for canceled coronavirus vaccinations for the world’s poor (New York Times)
  • Republicans part ways with another historic ally: Doctors (Axios)
  • Supply of weight-loss drug Wegovy expected to improve in coming months, company says (NBC News)

by state

  • Massachusetts bill shortens sentences for organ donation. Advocates call the measure “unethical and depraved.” (
  • Indiana Public Health Program Pushed Legislative Committee Clears (Washington Times-Herald)
  • Red tide pollutes Lee County waters again, state health department issues advisory (The News-Press)

The Hill Editorial

Restoring Public Confidence in Public Health

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. For the latest news and coverage, visit The Hill’s Health Care page. see you tomorrow.

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