Health Care Coverage

KFF Health News: Debt Deal Leaves Health Programs (Mostly) Intact
The bipartisan deal to extend the U.S. government’s borrowing authority includes future cuts to federal health agencies, but they are smaller than many expected and do not touch Medicare and Medicaid. Meanwhile, Merck & Co. becomes the first drugmaker to sue Medicare officials over the federal health insurance program’s new authority to negotiate drug prices. Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico, Lauren Weber of The Washington Post, and Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call join KFF Health News’ chief Washington correspondent, Julie Rovner, to discuss these issues and more. Also, this week, Rovner interviews KFF Health News senior correspondent Sarah Jane Tribble, who reported the latest KFF Health News-NPR “Bill of the Month” feature, about the perils of visiting the U.S. with European health insurance. (6/7)

Axios: CMS Announces New Decade-Long Primary Care Payment Experiment
The Biden administration on Thursday announced a 10-year experiment aimed at improving the way Medicare and Medicaid pay for primary care. The effort, dubbed the Making Care Primary Model, will ease safety-net and independent primary care providers — including federally qualified health centers — into getting paid for the value of services they provide, rather than the volume. (Goldman, 6/9)

AP: Court Seeks Compromise That Might Preserve Preventive Health Insurance Mandates As Appeals Play Out
Federal appeals court judges are seeking compromise on whether government requirements that health insurance include coverage for HIV prevention, cancer screenings and some other types of preventive care can be maintained while a legal battle over the mandates plays out. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Wednesday told attorneys on both sides of the issue to report by Friday on the possibility of a temporary compromise in the case. (McGill, 6/7)

Politico: Appeals Court Weighs Nationwide Freeze Of Obamacare’s Coverage Mandate
A federal appeals court panel appeared skeptical on Tuesday of calls to impose a nationwide freeze on Obamacare’s rules for no-cost coverage of preventive care while litigation continues — a move the Biden administration warned would threaten access to a range of services for millions of people on employer-sponsored insurance and Obamacare’s individual market. Both sides in the case agreed that the individual Texas businesses that sued over the mandate should be shielded from it while the case makes its way through the courts. But they split on whether more harm would be caused by keeping the current coverage rules intact for everyone else in the country or by suspending them nationwide. (Ollstein, 6/6)

Children’s Health Care

The New York Times: FDA Panel Recommends RSV Shot To Protect Infants
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of a monoclonal antibody shot aimed at preventing a potentially lethal pathogen, respiratory syncytial virus, or R.S.V., in infants and vulnerable toddlers. The treatment, called Beyfortus by its developers Sanofi and AstraZeneca, would be the second such therapy that the F.D.A. has allowed to be given to very young children to prevent R.S.V., which is a leading killer of infants and toddlers globally. A similar treatment approved more than 20 years ago is given in multiple doses and is only approved for high-risk infants. (Jewett, 6/8)

The Washington Post: For Premature Babies, Kangaroo Care Significantly Reduces Death Rates
Early implementation of a type of skin-to-skin contact called kangaroo mother care appears to significantly improve the odds of survival for premature or low-birth-weight babies, according to a sweeping scientific analysis published Monday. Researchers analyzed data from multiple studies that collectively included more than 15,000 infants worldwide. They found that, compared to conventional care, kangaroo mother care seemed to reduce mortality by 32 percent within the first 28 days of life. The study also suggests that the benefits of kangaroo mother care are higher when it’s implemented within 24 hours of birth. (Malhi, 6/7)

San Francisco Chronicle: Study Finds No Side Effects From COVID Vaccines For Young Children
A first-of-its-kind study found no serious side effects from COVID vaccines in young children, according to research from Kaiser Permanente released Tuesday. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, reviewed records of more than 245,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines given mostly to children age 4 or younger between June 2022 and March 2023. (Castro-Root, 6/6)

CIDRAP: More Than 70% Of US Household COVID Spread Started With A Child, Study Suggests
A study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open suggests that 70.4% of nearly 850,000 US household COVID-19 transmissions originated with a child. ... The authors concluded that children had an important role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and that in-person school also resulted in substantial spread. (Van Beusekom, 6/2)

LGBTQ+ Health

Los Angeles Times: L.A. School Officials Recommit To LGBTQ+ Support
The unanimous approval of a symbolic resolution sends a message that L.A. Unified will not back down from LGBTQ+ curriculum. (Blume, 6/8)

LA County Will Expand Gender-Affirming Health Care: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to expand health care services for transgender people and to establish for the first time an LGBTQ+ Commission. Read more from the LA Daily News and Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Times: LGBTQ+ Rights Organization Declares 'State Of Emergency' In The U.S.
The volume of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation “is record-shattering,” said Cathryn Oakley, the HRC’s state legislative director and senior counsel. “It is a really scary time for LGBTQ people, and I am not certain everyone understands quite how scary it really is,” Oakley said. Republican-controlled state governments including those in Texas, Florida and Tennessee are at the forefront of the movement against LGBTQ+ rights, the HRC said, calling out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in particular for “criss-crossing the country to attack our community.” (Petri, 6/6)

Medical Debt

Personal Medical Debt in Los Angeles County Tops $2.6 Billion, Report Finds

Medical debt is a leading public health problem, researchers say. Despite the county’s ongoing expansion of health coverage, the prevalence of medical debt remained unchanged from 2017 to 2021. (Molly Castle Work, 6/8)

KFF Health News: Personal Medical Debt In Los Angeles County Tops $2.6 Billion, Report Finds
About 810,000, or 1 in 10, Los Angeles County adults together owe more than $2.6 billion in medical debt as of 2021, a new analysis has found — a staggering sum that suggests extending health coverage to more people doesn’t necessarily protect them from burdensome debt. The report from the county Department of Public Health, entitled “Medical Debt in LA County: Baseline Report and Action Plan,” said medical debt disproportionately affects the uninsured and underinsured, low-income residents, and Black and Latino populations. It said the consequences are alarming, noting that debt negatively impacts factors that determine future health outcomes, such as housing, employment, food security, and access to prescriptions and health care. (Castle Work, 6/7)

Drug Shortage

AP: Cancer Centers Say US Chemotherapy Shortage Is Leading To Treatment Complications
A growing shortage of common cancer treatments is forcing doctors to switch medications and delaying some care, prominent U.S. cancer centers say. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network said Wednesday that nearly all the centers it surveyed late last month were dealing with shortages of carboplatin and cisplatin, a pair of drugs used to treat a range of cancers. Some are no longer able to treat patients receiving carboplatin at the intended dose or schedule. (Murphy, 6/7)

Mental Health

The Hill: Teens Are Spending Less Time Than Ever With Friends
America’s teenagers are seeing a lot less of one another. The share of high school seniors who gathered with friends in person “almost every day” dropped from 44 percent in 2010 to 32 percent in 2022, according to Monitoring the Future, a national survey of adolescents. Social outings for the typical eighth grader dwindled from about 2 1/2 a week in 2000 to 1 1/2 in 2021. (De Vise, 6/7)

Bloomberg: Cities Cite Mental Health, Loneliness And Depression As Top Policy Concerns
An “unprecedented” mental health crisis is overwhelming US cities, which lack adequate resources to address growing challenges, according to a new report released today by the US Conference of Mayors. In recent years, the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health issues, particularly involving substance abuse, said a survey of mayors of 117 cities in 39 states. (Yee, 6/3)

NBC News: More Kids Getting Anxiety Medication Without Therapy: Research
If children and teenagers receive any help for an anxiety disorder, it's usually medication — not counseling — according to a study published Wednesday in Pediatrics. In fact, there was an inverse relationship between the need for therapy and what has been given over more than a decade. As the number of youth with anxiety disorders has risen continually since 2006, the number of children receiving psychotherapy has decreased. (Edwards, 6/7)

Gun Violence

The Hill: One Person Died From Gun Violence Every 11 Minutes In 2021, Setting New Record: Study
Gun deaths in the U.S. reached a record-high in 2021, with an average of one person dying every 11 minutes each day — a total of nearly 49,000 deaths from gun violence throughout the year, according to a new study. A new Johns Hopkins study, using the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, found gun deaths reached the highest number ever recorded for the second straight year in a row. (Fortinsky, 6/6)

The Guardian: Can Medicaid Help Those Affected By Gun Violence? In California, A New System Could Help People Rebuild Their Lives
Hospital-based violence intervention programs could soon see funds provided by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. (Singh, 6/7)

Health Care Workers

KFF Health News: Burnout Threatens Primary Care Workforce And Doctors’ Mental Health
Melanie Gray Miller, a 30-year-old physician, wiped away tears as she described the isolation she felt after losing a beloved patient. “It was at the end of a night shift, when it seems like bad things always happen,” said Miller, who is training to become a pediatrician. (Sausser, 6/7)


Modern Healthcare: Leapfrog Group: Health Disparities Persist In Highly Rated Hospitals
Hospitals that receive high safety grades and score well on external safety measures do not provide better care to patients of color than lower-rated facilities, according to a study of more than 10 million patient records. The research from Leapfrog Group and Urban Institute, which used 2019 discharge data from across 15 states, found that Black and Latino patients are more at risk of experiencing adverse safety events than white patients, regardless of a hospital’s Leapfrog Group ranking. (Devereaux, 6/7)