Healthcare – US monkeypox cases double in a week

Apparently we should all live in Peoria, Illinois, at least according to this TikTok influencer profiled by BuzzFeed.

The number of probable cases of monkeypox in the US has doubled over the past week, despite expectations of a rise in cases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying there are “more than enough vaccines” to end the current outbreak deal with.

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CDC: 20 cases of monkeypox detected in 11 states

The number of monkeypox cases identified in the US has doubled to 20 in the past week, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the risk to the public remains low and the burden these causes cause as less version of the disease is considered serious.

During a Thursday news conference, CDC and White House officials confirmed that 20 cases had been identified in 11 states.

“The strain of monkeypox virus that is affecting patients in this outbreak is the West African strain and it is less severe than other known strains [such as] the Congo Basin group, meaning it has resulted in fewer deaths in historical outbreaks in Africa,” he said Jennifer McQuistonAssociate Director of the CDC Division of Pathogens and Pathology.

Although the strain is believed to be less severe, McQuiston stressed that it should not be minimized because the virus can still cause pain once the lesions have healed due to its characteristic rash as well as severe scarring.

Most cases of monkeypox in the US have been found in men who have sex with men, but the CDC confirmed that one case was found in a woman who had traveled to West Africa and reported having a heterosexual sex life.

The US is currently implementing a containment strategy to limit the spread of monkeypox by isolating cases, identifying people who may have been exposed and ensuring they are offered vaccines. No monkeypox-related deaths have yet been reported.

Read more here.

Progressives criticize the decision not to cut the premium in 2022

Progressives are criticizing the Biden administration’s recent announcement that Medicare premiums will not be cut for 2022 despite lower-than-expected costs for a new Alzheimer’s drug.

The cost of a reward increased by $21.60 to a minimum of $170.10 and a maximum of $578.30 in 2022, the largest increase in the program’s history.

The jump was attributed in part to a need to increase funding if Medicare covered Aduhelm, the first Alzheimer’s drug to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in nearly 20 years.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said last week that Medicare premiums will decrease in 2023 but will keep the $21.60 increase for the coming year.

Critics have branded the decision as an undue financial burden for many people living on a steady income.

Faiz Shakir, an adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), urged the Biden administration to send rebate checks to Medicare beneficiaries this year, while Warren Gunnels, a Sanders staffer, tweeted, “Imagine They could put more money in the pockets of seniors who are struggling right now to put food on the table and do nothing instead. That’s how you blow a slam dunk.”

Alex Lawson, executive director of progressive group Social Security Works, criticized the administration’s decision to wait until next year to cut premiums, calling it “wrong”.

Read more here.

CALIFORNIA COUNTY RE-INTRODUCES MASK MANDATE

A California Bay Area county is renewing its mask mandate for most indoor public spaces to limit the impact of a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Beginning Friday, Alameda County residents will be required to dress up in public places like grocery stores, restaurants and gyms for the first time since the winter’s Omicron wave. County officials cited rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, which have more than doubled in the last month.

The order does not apply to K-12 schools until the end of the 2021-22 school year, but county health officials strongly recommend mask wearing. However, masks are required in other facilities such as childcare, summer school and youth programs. The city of Berkeley is exempt from the order because it has its own health department.

Daily reported coronavirus cases in Alameda County, the San Francisco Bay Area’s second-most populous, have passed the peak of last year’s delta wave and are now approaching levels seen during the 2020-21 winter wave, health officials said.

Mask requirements are now the exception: As cases mount, Americans seem to be shaking off the risk of the virus. An Axios Ipsos poll last month found just 36 percent of Americans said there was a significant risk of returning to their “normal, pre-coronavirus life.”

Read more here.

DESANTIS TRIES TO BLOCK TRANSITIONAL THERAPY

The office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this week encouraged the state medical board to follow the DeSantis government’s guidance on transitional therapies for transgender minors, which would limit or eliminate various hormonal, surgical and other procedures.

State surgeon General Joseph Ladapo told the Florida Board of Medicine in a letter obtained by NBC News that his office found the science supporting these therapies “extraordinarily weak.”

“The available medical literature does not provide sufficient evidence that surgical sex reassignment surgery is a safe and effective treatment for gender dysphoria,” wrote the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

Ladapo urged the board to review the agency’s findings to inform them of a standard of care for transgender minors, stressing that surgical and hormonal therapies are “complex and irreversible.”

On the same day, the Agency for Health Care Administration released a report in which Medicaid denied coverage for puberty blockers, hormone therapies, or transgender-related surgeries.

The agency described these procedures as “experimental and experimental with the potential for long-term adverse effects.”

Read more here.`

Health insurers will pay $1 billion in rebates this year: analysis

According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurers will offer rebates worth $1 billion to consumers this year.

The rebates stem from an Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that health insurers spend at least 80 percent of their revenue on medical care, as opposed to profits or administrative costs. If an insurer does not meet this threshold, it must pay consumers money back in the form of rebates.

The analysis estimates that 8.2 million people will receive rebates, with an average amount of $128 per person.

Most rebates are paid to people who buy health insurance themselves, including through the ACA marketplaces, as opposed to insurance through an employer.

“$1 billion: That’s enough to buy a baseball team, a superyacht or a private island,” tweeted Cynthia Cox, one of the authors of the analysis at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “It’s also how much health insurers are going to give out as rebates to individuals and businesses because of the Affordable Care Act.”

The size of the rebates is larger than in some previous years, although it has decreased from the record amounts in 2020 and 2021.

Read more here.

WHAT WE READ

  • For many low-income families, sourcing infant formula has always been a burden (Kaiser Health News)
  • Genetic data point to at least two separate monkeypox outbreaks, suggesting wider distribution (Statistics)
  • If you’re still waiting for herd immunity for COVID-19, it’s time to move on: experts (ABC News)

STATE BY STATE

  • In Florida, there’s a growing gap between what people say about abortion and what they do (Politico)
  • ‘It Certainly Wasn’t Clear’: Licensed Psychologist Confused by DOJ Inquiry into How Louisville Treats the Mentally Ill (WHAS11)
  • Will the NC Medicaid expansion ride tailwinds or lean into new headwinds? (North Carolina Health News)

OP EDS IN THE HILL

Congress should protect patients from misleading policies that increase their drug costs

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and reports. Until next week.

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