Policy Updates 10/7/2022

  1. COVID

Los Angeles Daily News: With Winter Ahead, LA County Public Health — And Sen. Alex Padilla — Urge Boosters As COVID-19 Variants Loom
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla on Thursday, Oct. 10, got his COVID-19 booster shot and flu shots, urging scores of residents in the region and state to do the same ahead of a winter season that officials say could see the reemergence of COVID-19 subvariants. (10/6)

Los Angeles Times: Doctors Uneasy About California Law Aimed At COVID Misinformation
California doctors will soon be subject to disciplinary action if they give their patients information about COVID-19 that they know to be false or misleading. On its face, the new state law sounds like a clear blow to the forces that have fueled skepticism about life-saving vaccines, encouraged anxious people to trust discredited and dangerous drugs like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, and reduced face masks to symbols of political partisanship. The measure was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week and goes into effect on Jan. 1. (Purtill, 10/6)

Reuters: COVID Rebound After Pfizer Treatment Likely Due To Robust Immune Response, Study Finds
A rebound of COVID-19 symptoms in some patients after taking Pfizer's antiviral Paxlovid may be related to a robust immune response rather than a weak one, U.S. government researchers reported on Thursday. They concluded that taking a longer course of the drug - beyond the recommended five days - was not required to reduce the risk of a recurrence of symptoms as some have suggested, based on an intensive investigation of rebound in eight patients at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center. (Leo and Steenhuysen, 10/7)

Axios: Long COVID Is Still Disabling Millions Of Americans, CDC Reports
Of the nearly 24 million adults in the U.S. who currently have long COVID, more than 80% are having some trouble carrying out daily activities, according to CDC data released Wednesday. (Moreno, 10/6)

Axios: COVID Boosters Could Save 90,000 Lives, $56.5 Billion
About 90,000 lives would be saved and more than 936,000 hospitalizations could be prevented if 80% of Americans eligible for the latest COVID-19 boosters get vaccinated by year's end, according to a new paper from The Commonwealth Fund and Yale School of Public Health. (Reed, 10/5)

  1. Monkeypox

CIDRAP: Report: Monkeypox Case Rates 5 Times Higher In Black Americans
A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data reveals that monkeypox case rates in the US disproportionately affect Black and Latino Americans, with Black Americans having case rates 5 times of those found among White peers (14.4 cases vs. 2.6 per 100,000). (Soucheray, 10/6)

ABC News: Monkeypox Has Disproportionately Impacted Hispanic And Latino Men In US
Since the early days of the monkeypox outbreak in the United States, Hispanic and Latino men may have been disproportionately affected. While data from the CDC is limited and fewer than 50% of cases include information about race/ethnicity, it indicates that there may be disparities for Hispanic and Latino Americans affected by monkeypox. (Kekatos, 10/7

  1. Spina Bifida Breakthrough

Sacramento Bee: UC Davis Stem Cell Trial Leads To Spina Bifida Breakthrough
Diagnosed before birth with a spinal defect, three babies have kicked their legs, wiggled their toes and blown away their parents and a team of researchers at UC Davis Health who developed a novel approach to treat them. While still in the womb, each child was diagnosed with spina bifida, a condition that often leaves a section of a newborn’s spinal cord exposed and unprotected by the backbone. Babies born with the defect can have intellectual and physical disabilities that range from mild to severe, depending on how big of a hole they have in their spines, where it is and the impact on the spinal cord or nerves. (Anderson, 10/7)

  1. Gun Violence

The New York Times: Gun-Related Suicides And Killings Continued To Rise In 2021, C.D.C. Reports
Homicides and suicides involving guns, which soared in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, continued rising in 2021, reaching the highest rates in three decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday. Firearms caused 47,286 homicide and suicide deaths in 2021, up from 43,675 in 2020, according to the agency’s research, which is based on provisional data. Rates of gun-related homicide and suicide each rose by 8.3 percent last year. (Rabin, 10/6)

  1. Mental Health

Scientific American: Do You 'Matter' To Others? The Answer Could Predict Your Mental Health
In South Carolina a grieving mother whose son died by suicide hands out stickers to young people. The sticker bears the words “Jackson Matters and So Do You.” To be important to others—to matter—has become more than just a truism. “You Matter” is the tagline of the National Suicide Prevention hotline. And the phrase “Black Lives Matter” calls attention to the exclusionary racism to which more than one in eight Americans is exposed. Over the past 30 years, but never more so than now, psychologists have formalized “mattering” into a psychological construct that uniquely predicts depression, suicidal thoughts or other mental ills. It also foretells physical resilience among the elderly. (Russo, 10/6)

Bloomberg: Adderall Shortage Worsens As Novartis Reports New Supply Issue
Novartis’s Sandoz unit, previously reported as having supply issues with only the extended-release medication, is now also having challenges with the immediate-release version, according to the University of Utah’s drug information service, which tracks drug shortages. The company has shortages of two dosages of generic immediate-release Adderall, according to an update from the university. (Swetlitz, 10/6)

The Washington Post: More States Are Allowing Children To Take Mental Health Days
With child mental health problems on the rise in the past few years, a growing number of states have adopted laws that let students take an excused absence if they feel anxious, depressed or need a day to “recharge.” A dozen states already have measures in place that allow kids to take off for mental health and not just physical health reasons. A handful of others are considering making similar changes to school absentee rules. (Atkins, 10/2)

ABC News: Biden Admin Announces More Than $300M In Mental Health Funding In Part From Bipartisan Gun Bill
The Biden administration on Monday announced more than $300 million in new mental health funding, via awards and grants, with much of the money coming from the bipartisan anti-gun violence law passed this summer by Congress. (Jones II, 10/3)

  1. Vaping

The New York Times: Teenagers Keep Vaping Despite Crackdowns On E-Cigarettes
High school students resumed taking the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey in school this year and 14 percent of them reported using e-cigarettes, underscoring how an upstart industry is dodging regulators’ efforts to spare a generation from nicotine addiction. The number shows a slight change from 11 percent last year, but researchers cautioned against drawing comparisons to 2021’s survey, which was conducted differently because it took place when many schools were closed during the pandemic. The latest results were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday. (Jewett, 10/6)

  1. Reproductive Health

KHN: Abortion Bans Skirt A Medical Reality: For Many Teens, Childbirth Is A Dangerous Undertaking
Maryanna’s eyes widened as the waitress delivered dessert, a plate-sized chocolate chip cookie topped with hot fudge and ice cream. Sitting in a booth at a Cheddar’s in Little Rock, Maryanna, 16, wasn’t sure of the last time she’d been to a sit-down restaurant. With two children — a daughter she birthed at 14 and a 4-month-old son — and sharing rent with her mother and sister for a cramped apartment with a dwindling number of working lights, Maryanna rarely got out, let alone to devour a Cheddar’s Legendary Monster Cookie. (Varney, 10/7)

The 19th: Petition To FDA Asks For Mifepristone Label To Include Miscarriage Management
Over 40 medical and advocacy groups submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking for miscarriage management to be added as a use case for mifepristone, a drug commonly used in medical abortions, and ease the restrictions around who can prescribe it. (Gerson, 10/4)

  1. Health Care Industry

KHN: Hurricane Ian Shows That Coastal Hospitals Aren’t Ready For Climate Change
As rapidly intensifying storms and rising sea levels threaten coastal cities from Texas to the tip of Maine, Hurricane Ian has just demonstrated what researchers have warned: Hundreds of hospitals in the U.S. are not ready for climate change. Hurricane Ian forced at least 16 hospitals from central to southwestern Florida to evacuate patients after it made landfall near the city of Fort Myers on Sept. 28 as a deadly Category 4 storm. (Chang and Sausser, 10/7)

Stat: The Government Wants To Make A Single National Directory Of Doctors
The federal government wants to create a national directory that houses accurate, up-to-date information for all doctors and providers across the country — an ambitious attempt to rectify the plethora of error-riddled directories that are maintained by health insurance companies. (Herman, 10/5)

CalMatters: Health Care Workers Wages: Voters To Decide Increases
California’s largest health care workers union is no stranger to taking its fights to the ballot — both statewide and locally. In the past five years, it has pitched to voters initiatives on issues ranging from staffing at dialysis clinics to price caps for specific health care providers. This election season, Service Employees International Union-United Health Workers West is targeting the cities of Duarte and Inglewood, where on Nov. 8 voters will decide whether to set a minimum wage requirement of $25 per hour for some of the lowest paid workers at private hospitals, integrated health systems and dialysis clinics. These workers include patient care technicians, janitorial staff, food service workers and aides, among others. (Ibarra, 10/5)

Stat: Under New Rules, Patients Can Now Access All Their Health Records Digitally
The American Revolution had July 4. The allies had D-Day. And now U.S. patients, held down for decades by information hoarders, can rally around a new turning point, October 6, 2022 — the day they got their health data back. (Ross, 10/6)

  1. Legislation

KHN: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Looking Ahead To The Lame-Duck Session
When the lame-duck Congress returns to Washington after Election Day, it will face a long list of health items needing attention before the end of the year, including setting overall spending for health programs and averting a series of Medicare payment cuts to health care providers. Meanwhile, in California, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a first-in-the-nation bill aimed at curbing covid-19 misinformation and disinformation by doctors. (10/6)

  1. Children’s Health

USA Today: Flu, COVID, RSV: Children Are Getting Sick With Winter Viruses
“We are continuing to see a very high number of sick children with various respiratory problems,” said Dr. Stan Spinner, vice president and chief medical officer of Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care in Houston. “It was already pretty high before school started, but it has clearly gotten worse and faster than it typically takes.” (Rodriguez, 10/6)

AP: US Outlines Plan For Long-Term Baby Formula Imports
U.S. regulators on Friday unveiled their plan to allow foreign baby formula manufacturers to stay on the market long term, an effort to diversify the nation’s tightly concentrated industry and prevent future shortages. The Food and Drug Administration said recent entrants to the U.S. market will have until October 2025 to make sure their formulas comply with federal standards for nutrition, labeling and manufacturing. The agency noted that some companies should be able to meet those requirements sooner. (Perrone, 9/30)

CNN: Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Doesn't Harm Child Development, Study Says
Antidepressant use during pregnancy was not associated with autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral disorders, developmental speech, language, learning and coordination disorders or intellectual disabilities, according to a study of over 145,000 women and their children across the United States followed for up to 14 years. (LaMotte, 10/4)

San Francisco Chronicle: More Than 86% Of U.S. Children Infected To Date, CDC Reports
Approximately 86.3% of children in the U.S. have antibodies from surviving a prior COVID-19 infection as of Aug. 20, according to updated seroprevalence estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Vaziri, 10/5)

Richard Hughes IV et al

Newborn Screening Blood Spot Retention And Reuse: A Clash Of Public Health And Privacy Interests

  1. Persons with Disabilities

The Boston Globe: Some Doctors Are Reluctant To Care For Patients With Disabilities, Study Finds
“[Physicians] don’t necessarily know about making accommodations,” said Iezzoni, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a longtime disability researcher, who has multiple sclerosis. “For almost 25 years now people have been asking me, ‘Why is health care so far behind every other industry?’ You go to see a Celtics game or Fenway and they have great disability access. But health care facilities, not so much.” (Bartlett, 10/6)

Southern California News Group: After #FreeBritney, Landmark Bill To Reform State Conservatorship System Signed Into Law By Gov. Newsom
Under AB 1663, passed unanimously by both houses of the state Legislature, conservatorships would be a last resort for disabled and elderly people, taking a back seat to “supported decision-making,” that is, helping them to make their own choices. The law becomes effective Jan. 1. (Saavedra, 10/4)

Advancing Health Equity And Reducing Health Disparities For People With Disabilities In The United States

Monika Mitra et al.

  1. Research Abuse

AP: Philadelphia Apologizes For Experiments On Black Inmates
The city of Philadelphia issued an apology Thursday for the unethical medical experiments performed on mostly Black inmates at its Holmesburg Prison from the 1950s through the 1970s. The move comes after community activists and families of some of those inmates raised the need for a formal apology. It also follows a string of apologies from various U.S. cities over historically racist policies or wrongdoing in the wake of the nationwide racial reckoning after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. (10/7)

  1. Racism

Axios: How Racism Affects Health Care For Black Patients In California
Nearly a third of Black Californians reported being treated unfairly in the health care system because of their race, according to a report from the California Health Care Foundation. (Moreno, 10/5)

  1. Flu Season

Los Angeles Times: Flu Could Be Far Worse This Season. Here's Why
More than 2½ years into the battle against COVID-19, officials are warning that this fall and winter could see the rebound of a more traditional foe: the flu. Influenza has been largely dormant the last two seasons, a development some attribute to the infection-prevention protocols put in place to ward off the coronavirus. (Lin II and Money, 10/5)