First Edition: March 1, 2023

Linda Rider

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Biden Promises To Fight GOP On ‘Gutting’ Medicaid. Budget Talks Seem Like Another Story. 

Most lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike — have declared the marquee safety-net programs of Medicare and Social Security off-limits for cuts as a divided Washington heads for a showdown over the national debt and government spending. Health programs for lower-income Americans, though, have gotten no such bipartisan assurances. More than 20 million people gained Medicaid coverage in the past three years after Congress expanded access to the entitlement program during the covid-19 pandemic, swelling Medicaid’s population by about 30{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c}. But enrollment will fall starting in April, when the pandemic-era changes end and states begin cutting coverage for Americans who are no longer eligible. (McAuliff, 3/1)

Idaho Dropped Thousands From Medicaid In The Pandemic’s First Years

During the first two years of the covid-19 pandemic, while the federal government was trying to prevent people on Medicaid from losing health coverage, Idaho dropped nearly 10,000 people from the safety-net program. Federal law generally banned states from dropping people, and federal officials said Idaho acted improperly. Idaho officials, however, said they didn’t think they did anything wrong. (Pradhan, 3/1)

Listen To The Latest ‘KHN Health Minute’

On this week’s KHN Health Minute, hear about how Twitter users are shaping insulin policy and how covid vaccines may protect your heart. (2/28)

The New York Times:
Low-Income Families Brace For End Of Extra Food Stamp Benefits

Tens of millions of low-income families are set to lose additional food stamp benefits on Wednesday after the expiration of a pandemic-era policy that had increased the amount they received, leaving food banks bracing for a surge in demand and some advocates predicting a rise in hunger nationwide. For nearly three years of the pandemic, emergency legislation enacted by Congress sought to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus, allowing all participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive the maximum monthly benefit, regardless of income. The extra cash, along with other economic assistance programs, helped keep food insecurity at bay and cut poverty rates to a record low. (Qiu, 2/28)

The Hill:
SNAP Cuts Could Lead To ‘Hunger Cliff,’ Experts Fear 

Navigating a post-COVID America on pre-COVID-level SNAP benefits might be more of a struggle for others, like the elderly and the chronically ill. Especially now that inflation has caused food prices to balloon by nearly 10 percent since last year, according to the Department of Agriculture. Anti-hunger advocates fear the newly reduced SNAP benefits will drive millions of people to a “hunger cliff” and deeper into poverty as they search for ways to pay for food. (O’Connell-Domenech, 2/28)

States Strive To Help SNAP Recipients Cope With Lower Benefits

States, community groups and food banks are scrambling to help families cope and gear up for an expected wave of food hardship. “People are scared. They’re anxious. This is a devastating change,” Karla Maraccini, director of the Food and Energy Assistance Division of the Colorado Department of Human Services, told Stateline. “We want to make sure nobody is caught off guard in March.” (Mercer, 2/28)

Biden Warns Of ‘MAGA’ Republicans’ Desire To Cut Spending 

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said GOP lawmakers could put millions of people’s health care at risk, honing his message ahead of the release of his budget plan next week as Republicans push for him to negotiate over spending levels. The Democratic president spoke at a recreation center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His remarks were part of a broader effort this week to contrast his administration’s priorities with those of Republicans who have yet to spell out their budget cuts. Using past proposals, Biden said the GOP could try to slash Medicaid and Obamacare benefits, as well as Social Security and Medicare. “What are they going to cut? That’s the big question,” Biden said Tuesday. “For millions of Americans, health care hangs in the balance.” (Long and Boak, 3/1)

The Washington Post:
FDA To Restrict Imports Of An Animal Sedative, Xylazine, Tied To Overdoses 

The drug, known as “tranq” on the street, has alarmed public health experts, law enforcement officers and lawmakers already struggling to control an opioid crisis that is killing thousands each month. In recent years, the impact of xylazine has been particularly acute in Philadelphia, where the drug has been discovered in an overwhelming number of street opioid samples and as of 2019, in 31 percent of all victims of unintentional fatal overdoses in which fentanyl or heroin were detected. (Ovalle, 2/28)

FDA Panel Narrowly Backs Pfizer RSV Vaccine For Older Adults

Federal health advisers on Tuesday narrowly backed an experimental vaccine from Pfizer that could soon become the first shot to protect older adults against the respiratory illness known as RSV. The Food and Drug Administration panel voted 7-4 on two separate questions of whether Pfizer’s data showed the vaccine was safe and effective against the respiratory virus for people 60 and older. One panelist abstained from voting. The recommendation is non-binding and the FDA will make its own decision on the vaccine in the coming months. (Perrone, 2/28)

Pfizer’s RSV Vaccine Wins US Panel’s Backing For Safety In Older People

As it did with its messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccine, Pfizer gained the coveted spot of being first to pass a key barrier to the US market for a lung illness that affects thousand of people each year. Pfizer has been vying with the UK’s GSK Plc over what is estimated to become a $10 billion RSV market. GSK will face its own advisory committee hearing on Wednesday for what infectious disease specialists call the last big respiratory virus without a vaccine. (Cattan, 2/28)

Pfizer Gets FDA Panel’s Backing In RSV Vaccine Race

GSK, which is another forerunner in a crowded race to develop the first RSV vaccine, will face scrutiny from a panel of experts to the FDA on Wednesday. Companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc and Merck are also looming on the horizon. (Mandowara and Esunny, 2/28)

Novavax Raises Doubts About Ability To Remain In Business, Shares Fall 

COVID-19 vaccine maker Novavax Inc on Tuesday raised doubts about its ability to remain in business and announced plans to slash spending as it works to prepare for a fall vaccination campaign, and its shares plunged more than 25{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c}. The company said there is significant uncertainty around its 2023 revenue, funding from the U.S. government, and pending arbitration with global vaccine alliance Gavi. But its cash flow forecast indicates it has sufficient capital to fund operations over the next year. (Erman, 2/28)

Troops Who Refused COVID Vaccine Still May Face Discipline

The military services are still reviewing possible discipline of troops who refused the order to get the COVID-19 vaccine, defense officials told Congress on Tuesday, and they provided few details on how many of those who were forced out of the military would like to return. Lawmakers expressed frustration with the news, questioning why service members should still face discipline since the vaccine requirement had been rescinded. (Baldor, 2/28)

Billings Gazette:
Bill To Prevent MRNA Vaccine Recipients From Donating Blood Is Killed

The House Human Services committee has killed a bill that would have made it illegal to donate blood or tissue if the donor had received any mRNA vaccines or treatments. The bill called for perpetrators who knowingly collect and distribute blood or tissue “containing gene-altering proteins” or other “isolates introduced by mRNA or DNA vaccines” or chemotherapies, to face a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine up to $500. (Schabacker, 2/28)

81{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} Of Toilet Samples From US-Bound Planes Had Omicron RNA 

Two new studies from Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report highlight new findings about air travel amid COVID-19, with one showing that 81{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} of wastewater samples from airplane restrooms had SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant genetic material in fall 2022, and the other suggesting that predeparture testing of international travelers was tied to a 52{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} lower positivity rate at arrival in the United States. (Van Beusekom, 2/28)

Covid Monitoring Gave Essential Workers Little Data To Protect Health

At the peak of the pandemic, essential workers faced rampant tech-based surveillance, from overhead infrared thermometers to wearables that tracked their proximity to one another. These technologies forced employees to adjust the way they worked and sometimes made their workplaces less safe. They also didn’t offer workers clear and accurate information that would help them protect their health, according to a new report by the nonprofit Data & Society. (Castillo, 3/1)

The Wall Street Journal:
FBI Director Says Covid Pandemic Likely Caused By Chinese Lab Leak 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that the Covid pandemic was probably the result of a laboratory leak in China, providing the first public confirmation of the bureau’s classified judgment of how the virus that led to the deaths of nearly seven million people worldwide first emerged. “The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” Mr. Wray told Fox News. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”  (Gordon and Strobel, 2/28)

GOP Divided On How To Respond To ‘Lab Leak’ Report 

Congressional Republicans are anxious to use new Covid-19 lab leak reports to lash out at the ruling Chinese Communist Party and paint President Joe Biden’s administration as soft on Beijing. But they have reached little consensus on how exactly to do that. (Ollstein and Bade, 2/28)

The Hill:
Birx: US Not Doing Enough To Prevent Another Pandemic Like COVID

Deborah Birx, a physician who served as former President Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, said on Tuesday that the U.S. isn’t doing enough to prevent another pandemic like COVID-19.“To me, what’s really important as we went through this after SARS, and the World Health Organization’s developed treaties, we spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars on saying we were ready and we would prevent the next pandemic and it happened,” Birx said on “CNN This Morning.” “So let’s be very clear that what we have done today has failed. And I worry that we haven’t put the new things in place that will keep us and protect us from the next pandemic,” she added. (Mueller, 2/28)

US Reports New H5N1 Avian Flu Detections In Mammals 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) added 10 more H5N1 avian flu detections in mammals to its running list, which adds reports from four states and includes five different species. Seven of the detections were in Colorado, where the virus was found in three mountain lions, a bobcat, two red fox, and a black bear. Kansas and Oregon both reported detections in striped skunks, and North Carolina reported a detection in a black bear. (Schnirring, 2/28)

Mississippi Could Renew Initiatives But Ban Them On Abortion

Mississippi residents might get back the ability to enact public policy through statewide ballot initiatives, but people would be banned from using the process to change abortion laws. Republican lawmakers advanced a proposal Tuesday that would strip voters of their ability to launch abortion measures under a revived ballot initiative process. (Goldberg, 3/1)

3 Abortion Bans In Texas Leave Doctors ‘Talking In Code’ To Pregnant Patients

The first amendment of the constitution protects free speech, explains Elizabeth Sepper, professor of law at University of Texas at Austin. “Physicians have independent speech rights, to speak to their patients openly,” she says. “Physicians should not be scared to say the ‘a-word.'” Nevertheless, that seems to be what’s happening. Many doctors in Texas who treat pregnant patients are extremely scared, especially of language in one of the state’s abortion bans that allows people to take civil action against anyone who “aids or abets” abortion. (Simmons-Duffin, 3/1)

Mississippi House Panel OKs Longer Medicaid After Births

A Mississippi House committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would provide women with a full year of Medicaid coverage after giving birth, just days after Republican Gov. Tate Reeves voiced his support for the measure. The bill passed the House Medicaid Committee on a voice vote, with some opposition. (Pettus, 2/28)

Oklahoma House Votes To Ban Insurance For Transgender Care

House Republicans approved a bill Tuesday banning insurance coverage for transgender health care, one of many proposals this year seeking to limit gender transition procedures. House Bill 2177 now moves to the state Senate after the House passed the measure with an 80-18 vote. All 18 votes against were by Democratic members. (Felder, 2/28)

North Carolina Senate Backs Legalizing Pot For Medical Use

The North Carolina Senate voted on Tuesday to legalize marijuana use for medical purposes, giving strong bipartisan support for the second year in a row to an idea that its supporters say would give relief to those with debilitating or life-ending illnesses. … The proposal is almost identical to a bill the Senate passed last June by a similar margin, which then stalled in the House. (Robertson, 2/28)

West Virginia Senate Enhances Drug Penalties To Felony 

West Virginia’s Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would make it a felony to possess fentanyl and some other illegal drugs in the opioid-ravaged state. The bill passed on a 32-1 vote and now goes before the House of Delegates. The regular session ends March 11. (Raby, 2/28)

The Washington Post:
Woman Dies After Begging Knoxville Police For Medical Help, Video Shows

Over the course of at least seven minutes, Lisa Edwards repeatedly asked the Knoxville, Tenn., police officers surrounding her for her inhaler. The 60-year-old was arrested the morning of Feb. 5 on trespassing charges after she refused to leave the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center that Sunday when she was discharged. While officers were trying to take her into custody, she told them, “I can’t breathe,” according to body-camera footage. As Edwards continued her pleas for help that morning, one officer called them “an act.” (Somasundaram, 2/28)

Bank Info Security:
Healthcare Most Hit By Ransomware Last Year, FBI Finds

Healthcare and public health bore the brunt of ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure sectors launched during the last year, says the FBI. The FBI’s Internet Complaint Center last year received 870 complaints that “indicated organizations belonging to a critical infrastructure sector were victims of a ransomware attack,” said David Scott, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, speaking at the Futurescot conference Monday in Glasgow, Scotland. Critical manufacturing and the government, including schools, followed healthcare as the most-attacked sectors, IC3 data shows. (Schwartz, 2/27)

Modern Healthcare:
Mayo Clinic’s 2022 Profits Plummet By More Than 50{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c}

Rising wage and supply costs, in addition to poor performance in the financial markets, sent Mayo Clinic’s profit plummeting by more than half in 2022. The Rochester, Minnesota-based nonprofit reported $2.2 billion in net income for 2022, a 58.4{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} drop from $5.3 billion in 2021. Operating income dropped 50.9{fe463f59fb70c5c01486843be1d66c13e664ed3ae921464fa884afebcc0ffe6c} to $595 million, the system said Monday. (Hudson, 2/28)

Modern Healthcare:
Walmart, CareSource Health Disparities Program Planned

Walmart and the health insurer CareSource have forged a partnership to conduct risk screenings and provide wellness services to customers at select retail locations in Ohio, the companies announced Tuesday. The three-year arrangement will focus on improving outcomes among CareSource’s Medicare, Medicaid and health insurance exchange policyholders who have conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. (Hartnett, 2/28)

USA Today:
Community Health Centers Can Fill America’s Primary Care Gap: Report

Nearly a third of Americans lack access to primary care, according to a new report. More than 100 million people in the United States don’t have a primary care provider, and about a quarter of those are children, according to the report, “Closing the Primary Care Gap,” released Monday by the National Association of Community Health Centers. (Hassanein, 2/28)

11 Minutes Of Aerobics Daily Lowers Disease Risk, Study Says

When you can’t fit your entire workout into a busy day, do you think there’s no point in doing anything at all? You should rethink that mindset. Just 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity per day could lower your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease or premature death, a large new study has found. Aerobic activities include walking, dancing, running, jogging, cycling and swimming. You can gauge the intensity level of an activity by your heart rate and how hard you’re breathing as you move. (Rogers, 2/28)

The Washington Post:
Even Mild Concussions Can Affect Memory And Cognition Years Later 

Experiencing three or more concussions, even mild ones, can lead to cognitive problems decades later, according to research published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. But just one moderate to severe concussion — or traumatic brain injury (TBI), in medical terms — was found to have a long-term impact on brain function, including but not limited to memory issues. (Searing, 2/28)

A Specialized Ambulance For Stroke Patients Is On The Way At UF Health

Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke in the U.S. Every three and a half minutes, someone dies from a stroke. Strokes are leading causes of long-term disability. These statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are exactly why officials at UF Health Shands Hospital are forming specialized stroke ambulances. (Barrera and Weinstein, 2/28)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

Next Post

Jennifer Aniston's sleep health tips, talks importance of fitness

There aren’t sufficient hrs in the working day for Jennifer Aniston. She is familiar with that. For the earlier 10 many years, the “Friends” actress recalls grappling with sleepless nights— and admittedly even now does to this working day. At times, it truly is work on her brain, as she prepares for the […]
Jennifer Aniston’s sleep health tips, talks importance of fitness

Subscribe US Now