Happy Friday! Headline writers the world over (learn: yours actually) breathed a sigh of aid this week when the enterprise formally generally known as “the health initiative founded by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase” lastly picked a reputation. After greater than a yr of tight-lipped secrecy, they settled on “Haven.” What do you guys suppose? I’m simply grateful it’s brief.
On to what you will have missed this week!
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb despatched shock waves by means of Washington and the trade when he introduced he’ll be retiring on the finish of the month. Gottlieb was a standout within the anti-regulatory, pro-business Trump administration as some of the activist commissioners in recent times. Over the previous two years, he has launched what may very well be termed a campaign in opposition to teen vaping — his most up-to-date motion coming simply the day earlier than the announcement, when he called out Walgreens and fuel stations for promoting tobacco merchandise to minors — and cracked down on “miracle cures” and unregulated stem cell clinics and dietary supplements, amongst different initiatives. Public well being advocates are fretting that with him gone, among the progress they’ve seen will likely be chipped away.
The departure can also be a blow to the administration in that Gottlieb is a extremely preferred well being official who labored nicely with Congress, profitable over even Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Behind the scenes, he was generally known as somebody who was “accessible,” would discipline lawmakers’ questions and was actively engaged on issues that will make Congress pleased. “I’ve never seen an administration official, Republican or Democrat, that has worked with the Hill so well on a bipartisan basis,” a senior congressional aide advised Stat.
That’s to not say he didn’t have his critics. A call on approving a strong opioid late final yr, particularly, drew hearth from many advocates.
Gottlieb mentioned his resolution to depart was primarily based on the truth that he missed spending time together with his household, and White House officers confirmed that President Donald Trump didn’t search the resignation.
Now the large query is: Who goes to interchange him?
As anticipated, authorized challenges to the administration’s modifications to the household planning guidelines got here not in a trickle however a flood. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in his 47th lawsuit in opposition to the administration, mentioned the principles proscribing abortion referrals have been like one thing out of 1920 and never 2019. Apart from California’s case, 20 states and D.C. introduced they are going to be submitting fits. Then got here the announcement that Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Medical Association may also problem the restrictions, deeming the modifications a “domestic gag rule” and an overreach from the administration.
Facing more and more intense outrage over insulin costs, Eli Lilly has determined to supply a certified generic model of its drug for half the price. Stories of individuals dying after they rationed newly expensive insulin have been circulating with ever-increasing frequency, and lawmakers have made it their precedence to particularly rout out solutions about insulin value hikes. In that context, Eli Lilly’s transfer right here appears extra harm management than charitable, but it surely additionally places them in good firm with drugmakers who’ve been hotfooting it to keep away from no matter worse would come out of Congress in the event that they don’t make some modifications.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper formally threw his hat into the narrowing 2020 discipline this week. Hickenlooper appears to gravitate extra towards the average wing of the Democratic Party, saying he helps common well being care in precept however refusing to get behind a “Medicare-for-all” plan. His evolution on gun management (as a governor who oversaw a mass capturing within the state the place Columbine occurred) can also be value trying out.
There has at all times been a niche swallowing individuals who make an excessive amount of for well being regulation subsidies or Medicaid however not sufficient to comfortably afford insurance coverage by means of the exchanges. A brand new county-by-county evaluation seems at simply how powerful it’s for the individuals who fall into the holes created by the ACA. A very hanging determine? In virtually all of Nebraska, a 60-year-old with a $50,000 earnings would pay from 30 to 50 p.c of that earnings in premiums for the least costly ACA well being plan.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is fascinated about bolstering interstate insurance coverage gross sales regardless of there being little urge for food for it up to now and consultants saying it wouldn’t decrease premiums. In reality, the apply is already allowed beneath the well being regulation, and nobody does it as a result of insurers suppose it’s simply not value it.
A teen who received vaccinated in opposition to his mom’s needs was the star witness at a listening to this week sparked partly by the measles outbreak. Ethan Lindenberger, a highschool senior, hoisted the blame for his mom’s deeply rooted beliefs squarely on Facebook’s shoulders.
The anti-vaccination motion has lengthy flourished on Facebook, partly due to the positioning’s search outcomes and “suggested groups” characteristic. On Thursday, the corporate introduced it has developed a coverage to attempt to curb that tradition of misinformation on vaccines, saying it can rank pages and teams that unfold that sort of data decrease and can hold them out of suggestions or predictions in search.
After 12 lengthy years, scientists lastly introduced that a second affected person seems to have been cured of HIV. While the information was well-welcomed world wide — “This will inspire people that cure is not a dream,” mentioned Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist — there are some sensible obstacles to contemplate. For instance, bone marrow transplants (which is how each sufferers have been cured) are extraordinarily dangerous, particularly since there are medication that exist that may management HIV pretty nicely.
In a scathing ruling that might have wide-reaching ramifications for the insurance coverage trade, a choose blasted UnitedHealth Group for insurance policies that he says have been aimed toward successfully discriminating in opposition to sufferers with psychological well being and substance abuse issues to save cash. The resolution is an element of a bigger debate over parity in relation to protection for psychological well being providers versus different sicknesses like diabetes. Insurance firms have been getting round parity necessities with inside guidelines, however advocates are viewing the choose’s ruling as a warning shot that these loopholes will not be tolerated.
The FDA this week permitted a cousin of social gathering drug “Special K” to assist folks with extreme instances of melancholy, marking a shift away from conventional antidepressant medicines. While many mentioned the information would give hope to determined sufferers, others are fearful concerning the potential for abuse.
Honorable point out for International Women’s Day: A veritable “tsunami wave of women veterans” over the previous a number of years is forcing the VA to step up by way of assembly female-specific well being care wants. Among fundamental points are seeing to it that docs are educated to take care of gynecological issues and making certain that VA amenities have baby care providers obtainable when feminine veterans are available for appointments.
In the miscellaneous file for the week:
• Nearly 600,000 youngsters have dropped off of states’ Medicaid and CHIP rolls over a one-year span. While states rush to guarantee anybody asking that it’s as a result of the financial system is enhancing, public well being consultants are alarmed on the disturbing development.
• In a “craning your neck at the car wreck” form of manner, this profile on disgraced pharma bro Martin Shkreli is a wild learn. Through the assistance of a contraband smartphone, Shkreli is, from his jail cell, nonetheless pulling the strings at his previous firm, schmoozing up his jail pals “Krispy” and “D-Block,” and planning his massive comeback.
• Last yr, docs burst onto the gun-debate scene by means of the assistance of a viral tweet that directed them to “stay in their lane.” But a brand new evaluation gives an attention-grabbing take a look at which lawmakers are getting probably the most cash from physician-related PACs. (Hint: It’s overwhelming ones who’re in opposition to tighter gun rules.)
• In barely terrifying information, analysis that was halted over considerations it might create lethal flu viruses that may very well be utilized by terrorists was simply given the inexperienced gentle once more —with none rationalization as to why. *Gulp*
• Everyone is anticipating a giant settlement within the sweeping opioid case in opposition to Purdue Pharma. But what occurs if the opioid maker declares chapter first?
• Luke Perry’s early loss of life from a stroke this week has many middle-aged Americans fearful.
• Drug firms and docs are in a grimy struggle over fetal transplants. It could seem click-baity at first, however the problem is very revealing of how the well being trade works in terms of one thing that might make folks numerous cash.
That’s it from me! Have an important weekend!
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially impartial program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.