Health Care — The days of free COVID tests are numbered

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In health matters, the emergency label for COVID-19 will expire on May 11, which may mean the end of free testing.

Welcome to The Hill’s Health Care roundup, where we follow the latest policy measures and news that affect your health. We are Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi.

The end of public health emergencies will end free testing

The end of the public health emergency of COVID-19 on May 11 will mark the end of an era in the American health care system as more Americans will have to start paying for care, which has been free for the past three years.

Experts say changes related to the public health emergency will not disrupt the world.

When the public health emergency ends, the biggest change facing the majority of Americans will be that the days of free, easily accessible testing for COVID-19 will likely be over.

  • Currently, everyone with private insurance can get up to eight tests per month. That will go away once the emergency is over. Private insurance may no longer cover the full cost of over-the-counter tests, and patients may need a prescription first for a PCR test.
  • Vaccines and treatment will still be free, as long as government coverage is in place.
  • “On May 12, you can still go to the pharmacy and get your bivalent vaccine. It’s free. On May 12, if you get COVID, you can still get your Paxlovid. It’s free. None of this has changed,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said on Twitter on Wednesday.

A major shock to society could occur if the supply of vaccines and treatment ends, and costs shift to the private sector.

Overall, the changes made to the American health care system due to COVID-19 may be “the closest we’ve gotten to health care in the United States,” Jen Kates, senior vice president at KFF, said earlier. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Bipartisan chiefs criticize FDA over respiratory rule

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday criticized the “repeated failure” of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate electronic cigarettes and take action against companies that illegally sell products to children.

Led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), lawmakers sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra urging him to “do everything in your power to right the ship and take meaningful action to correct the FDA’s continued leadership failures and prevent youth from becoming addicted to nicotine for life.” of everything.”

The most backward: The FDA is currently 16 months past a court-ordered deadline to finish reviewing e-cigarette applications, and lawmakers are criticizing the agency for needing another six months to complete its work on e-cigarettes with a large market share.

An estimated 1 million children may now be at risk of inhaling the vapor before the FDA completes its review, Durbin said.

  • Durbin has been the Senate’s leading advocate against youth vaping and has repeatedly called for federal regulators to do a better job of protecting kids by quickly removing e-cigarettes and vapor products from store shelves.
  • “For almost a decade, this organization has neglected its duty under the e-cigarette control law, putting the lives of millions of children at risk. Now, after another delay in the FDA’s efforts to regulate the e-cigarette market, it is now clear to us that the FDA has gone and lives are at risk,” the lawmakers wrote.

Read more here.

RESEARCH: CONFUSION THROUGH AVAILABILITY OF ABORTION DRUGS

Nearly half of all US adults aren’t sure if medical abortion is legal where they live, according to a survey released Wednesday by KFF.

At least 4 in 10 adults — including 41 percent of women that age — say they are “not sure” whether mifepristone, a prescription abortion drug, is legal where they live.

These findings reflect the continued widespread confusion about the availability of abortion pills, which are the most common way for people to end a pregnancy.

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The poll was conducted January 17-24, more than six months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade legalized abortion.

Many states with strong abortion bans also limit the availability of mifepristone — a drug that blocks hormones necessary for pregnancy — either through restrictions on who can prescribe and dispense the pill or an outright ban.

Read more here.

LIFE IS ALMOST EXPENSIVE IN OTHER RICH COUNTRIES

In 2021, the US spent 17.8 percent of GDP on health care, almost double the average of 9.6 percent in high-income countries, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund.

Per capita health care spending in the US was three or four times greater than in countries such as South Korea, New Zealand and Japan.

The researchers compared data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Health Statistics 2022 and the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey 2022.

Preventable deaths: Furthermore, the preventable death rate in the US was 336 per 100,000 deaths in 2020, while the OECD average was 225.

Their analysis suggests that overall health in the US is worse than in other high-income countries. Life expectancy at birth in the US is three years below the OECD average. The obesity rate in the US is almost double the OECD average at about 43 percent compared to the OECD average of 25 percent. The next highest countries include New Zealand (34 percent), Australia (30 percent) and the UK (28 percent).

Read more here.

GoodRx is accused of illegally sharing health data

Telemedicine company GoodRx allegedly shared sensitive personal health information with Google, Facebook and other companies to target ads to users, according to a complaint filed by federal regulators on Wednesday.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged that GoodRx, a company that allows users to compare drug prices and get coupons, shared sensitive information about users’ prescriptions and health conditions with advertising platforms that allowed them to target ads to users about certain health conditions and medications. , despite claims that the company will not do so.

  • The order, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, aims to prevent GoodRx from sharing health data with advertisers. It may also require the company to direct third parties, such as Google and Facebook, to delete data previously shared with them.
  • In addition to the proposed actions, GoodRx agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine, according to the FTC. The order is subject to federal court approval.
  • The FTC official said that if companies had ignored the rule before, they would now. The official said the order filed against GoodRx will be a signal to the industry that the organization is not taking this issue lightly.
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The first enforcement action the FTC has taken is under the Health Breach Notification Act, which requires sellers of personal health records and their related entities to notify consumers and the FTC when that data is disclosed or obtained without the consumers’ consent.

GoodRX said in a statement that it disagrees with the FTC’s allegations and admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

Read more here.

WHAT WE STUDY

  • Medicare May Test Low-Payment Policy for Faster-Approved Drugs (Stat)
  • Vaccine makers save $1.4 billion in upfront payments for canceled covid shots for world’s poor (New York Times)
  • Republicans break with another historic ally: doctors (Axios)
  • Supply of weight-loss drug Wegovy expected to improve in next few months, company says (NBC News)

NATIONAL SITUATION

  • The Mass. bill would have reduced prison time for organ donation. The lawyer calls the measure ‘wrong and corrupt.’ (Boston.com)
  • Indiana public health plan strengthens legislative panel (Washington Times-Herald)
  • Red tide also pollutes water in Lee County, health department issues advisory (News-Press)

THE OP-ED SHOT

Restoring public trust in public health

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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