Happy Friday! This week introduced us one of the perfect click-bait stories in recent memory — every a part of it including to the what on earth? feeling you get studying it. Click right here for what it was. (Just kidding!) Apparently, New York’s Medicaid program has paid practically $60,000 for erectile dysfunction medication for … anticipate it … intercourse offenders. (The much less click-bait-y half: State officers say these medication can deal with a broad vary of issues, and dismissed a lot of the criticism.)
Now on to what else you might have missed.
2020 hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden set off a political firestorm early within the week when his marketing campaign clarified that he helps the Hyde Amendment, a provision that states that Medicaid can’t pay for an abortion except the girl’s life is in peril or the being pregnant resulted from rape or incest. (Feeling hazy on the small print of the modification? The New York Times has you covered.)
Biden’s rivals have been fast to sentence the feedback and have been joined by abortion rights teams in stating that it’s the most susceptible ladies who’re affected by the modification. Biden reversed course, citing present threats to Roe v. Wade and saying “times have changed.” But with abortion at middle stage within the nationwide dialog, his opponents are unlikely to let voters overlook Biden’s unique stance (which, he says, he makes no apologies for).
The Trump administration took steps this week to limit fetal tissue funding and analysis in one other win for the president’s anti-abortion supporters. HHS has discontinued all inside analysis that includes fetal tissue. Outside initiatives that obtain authorities funding will proceed however require approval from an ethics board in the event that they’re up for renewal. The behind-the-scenes decision-making was apparently considerably heated, in keeping with Politico’s reporting. White House officers wished an outright ban, whereas HHS Secretary Alex Azar sought to permit present analysis to go ahead.
Scientists have been dismayed by the choice, saying that fetal tissue analysis is on the root of medical breakthroughs throughout a spectrum of illnesses.
Residents in a small Colorado city who have been sick of enjoying David to the Goliath of well being care prices banded collectively to turn into their very own model of an enormous — or no less than a barely larger David. The residents shaped what may very well be a first-of-its-kind alliance that brings companies and people collectively to collectively negotiate costs from hospitals and physician teams earlier than getting any insurance coverage firm concerned. The alliance went to completely different methods and requested, “What kind of deal will you give us?” That appeared to work. According to the group, taking part members may see premium costs 20% decrease. In a world the place the affected person usually is left with nearly zero leverage, this mannequin would possibly flip that on its head.
As this and numerous different tales about our unsustainable system present, well being care will probably be a potent matter within the 2020 elections with the potential to woo single-issue voters. Have any of the candidates struck on a profitable formulation to take action?
“No one’s found the magic fairy dust yet,” mentioned Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), which appears to sum up the present state of affairs pretty properly. Health care is sophisticated, in spite of everything.
Meanwhile, the primary proposed charge hikes for well being regulation plans rolled on this week and they’re … not horrible. Not the world’s most ringing endorsement, however specialists took coronary heart that it’s only one extra signal the marketplace is stabilizing. To be honest, these will increase are seemingly reasonable due to how a lot insurers overcompensated in years previous. But they do supply hope that final yr’s numbers weren’t a fluke and the period of eye-popping hikes is historical past.
And a fast observe: KHN launched its new partnership with the podcast “An Arm and a Leg,” which, as you possibly can in all probability work out from the title, explores painful excessive well being care prices.
A brand new report launched by Pennsylvania’s senators reveals that the federal authorities has been conserving a hidden listing of the names of lots of of nursing houses across the nation discovered by inspectors to have severe ongoing well being, security or sanitary issues. CMS does disclose a smaller listing of about 80 nursing houses which can be getting particular scrutiny, however they appear indistinguishable from those on the lengthy roster. In response to the criticism, CMS introduced it can begin posting the prolonged model publicly.
Skeptical lawmakers and veterans’ advocates appeared on because the VA carried out its expanded privatized care program Thursday. Although veterans have been warned there may very well be “a few hiccups,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie mentioned he was assured in his crew to deal with the rollout.
In 2015, Pfizer realized that its rheumatoid arthritis drug appeared to chop the danger of Alzheimer’s in those that took it by 64% — an astounding and startling discovery in a subject riddled with heartbreaking disappointments. But the world was by no means informed about it as a result of the corporate opted out of working a scientific trial, calling it a useless finish. Critics say the choice had extra to do with the actual fact the drug’s patent is expiring and Pfizer desires to place its market muscle behind a brand new drug reasonably than an previous one. Wagering cash on a scientific trial that the corporate’s leaders had doubts about anyway didn’t present good enterprise sense.
And learn the story of the person behind a kind of legions of disappointments in Alzheimer’s analysis, together with an engrossing tick-tock of the day he was informed concerning the outcomes of his promising examine.
The opioid disaster has created a “Generation O” — children who take into account it regular to be coping with their mother and father’ debilitating habit as that’s all they’ve recognized. They’re trapped in a lifetime of begging mother and father to not use medication, discovering them handed out or worse, coping with days-long disappearances, all on the mercy of the monetary insecurity that comes with opioid abuse. The psychological ramifications for these children rising up within the coronary heart of an epidemic are prone to be wide-reaching.
In the miscellaneous file this week:
• In a test on human hubris, a examine finds that folks with the genetic mutation to guard in opposition to HIV — which the Chinese scientist who edited embryos was making an attempt to imitate — really results in a shorter life span general. (It’s nearly as if there are greatest practices on ethics in place to guard in opposition to that.)
• At its worst, the booming stem cell business generally is a Wild, Wild West of unscrupulous snake oil salesmen luring sufferers into making an attempt untested therapies. But the lawless panorama may need some sheriffs to cope with quickly. A federal choose simply granted FDA authority to control one of many extra harmful of the favored procedures carried out by the clinics.
• A examine finds that states that expanded Medicaid below the well being regulation have been capable of chip away at a number of the racial disparities surrounding most cancers care.
• As genetic testing turns into extra widespread, mother and father are studying that the sperm donor they spent a very long time deliberating over just isn’t essentially the one they bought. The anecdotes piling up elevate questions on whether or not the sperm financial institution business must be tighter regulated.
• Do political threats quantity to something or are all of them bluster? A take a look at how the Republicans who voted to broaden Medicaid inform a narrative of the latter.
Have an important weekend!
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially unbiased program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.