Thursday, August 3, 2023


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Feb 28, 2024

Thursday, August 3, 2023

KFF Health News Original Stories Doctors Sound Alarm About Child Nicotine Poisoning as Vapes Flood the US Market Popular e-cigarettes lack packaging that stops kids from consuming the hazardous

KFF Health News Original Stories

Doctors Sound Alarm About Child Nicotine Poisoning as Vapes Flood the US Market

Popular e-cigarettes lack packaging that stops kids from consuming the hazardous nicotine inside. (Liz Szabo, 8/6 )

‘Conscience’ Bills Let Medical Providers Opt Out of Providing a Wide Range of Care

Opponents of the wave of state legislation say the measures place health providers’ preferences over patients’ rights. (Carly Graf, 8/6 )

Political Cartoon: 'A Helping Paw'

KFF Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'A Helping Paw'" by Harry Bliss.

Administration News

Infectious-Disease Expert Jeanne Marrazzo To Succeed Fauci At NIH

News outlets cover federal officials' choice of Jeanne M. Marrazzo, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as the next director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Science reports her selection is being praised by researchers and AIDS activists.

The Washington Post: NIH Taps Jeanne Marrazzo To Succeed Fauci As Infectious-Disease Chief Jeanne M. Marrazzo, a University of Alabama at Birmingham infectious-disease expert, will succeed Anthony S. Fauci this fall as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, federal officials announced Wednesday. The $6.3 billion research institute is among the largest of the 27 institutes and centers that constitute the National Institutes of Health, America’s flagship biomedical agency. NIAID is also particularly prominent given its involvement in the response to the coronavirus pandemic and other diseases; it has also received attention because of Fauci’s own high profile and Republicans’ ongoing efforts to investigate the institute’s workings. (Diamond and Roubein, 8/2)

AP: Alabama Researcher Will Succeed Fauci In Infectious Disease Post Marrazzo’s research has focused on sexually transmitted diseases and the prevention of HIV infection. At the university, she is director of the medical school’s division of infectious diseases. Her appointment was made by Lawrence Tabak, acting director for the National Institutes of Health. (8/2)

Stat: Infectious Disease Expert Jeanne Marrazzo Assumes Fauci Role The announcement comes roughly eight months after longtime institute director Anthony Fauci stepped down. ... Marrazzo is “very well-liked, very respected” and experienced, Fauci told STAT. “She’s going to be a good fit. It’s a great challenge that she’s going to be facing; it’s going to be exciting for her.” (Owermohle, 8/2)

Science: University Of Alabama HIV Researcher Will Head NIH’s Infectious Disease Institute Her selection is drawing praise from researchers and AIDS activists. The Infectious Diseases Society of America cited her “innumerable qualifications,” including her mentorship of new infectious disease specialists at UAB. Marrazzo will also be the first openly gay director of an NIH institute. “I couldn’t be happier. She’s somebody who gets the big picture,” says University of California, San Diego, epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee, who got to know Marrazzo through the international HIV Prevention Trials Network. She added that Marrazzo “is superdedicated to patients” including those from vulnerable groups, such as lesbian and bisexual women. “Given NIH’s history, we need someone who really understands diversity and inclusion,” Strathdee says. (J. Kaiser, 8/2)

Coverage And Access

For A Blip In Time, Uninsured Rate Hits All-Time Low

About 7.7% of Americans didn't have insurance as of March, a CDC survey shows. But that number has almost certainly already grown as states have kicked nearly 4 million people off Medicaid this year, including many who are eligible for it.

Stat: Uninsured Rate Hits ‘Record Low’ — Right Before Millions Start Losing Medicaid Coverage Roughly 7.7% of Americans didn’t have any health insurance as of this past March — a “record low” uninsured rate, according to the latest health insurance survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, that uninsured rate — which still translated to more than 25 million Americans with no health coverage — is almost certainly higher now. That’s because the data don’t include the millions of low-income Americans who have lost the Medicaid coverage they gained during the pandemic. (Herman, 8/3)

Axios: Uninsured Rate Hit All-Time Low In Early 2023 Experts are concerned that those falling off Medicaid rolls won't find other coverage, especially in states without staffing or systems to help people who are eligible get Affordable Care Act coverage. "Members living in states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act could end up in the Medicaid coverage gap by having incomes that are too high to qualify for their state's Medicaid program but too low to qualify for marketplace insurance subsidies," said Leah Dewey, vice president at Cotiviti, an analytics company that works with payers. (Dreher, 8/3)

NPR: Medicaid Drops Nearly 4 Million People Since Pandemic Protections Expired At least 3.7 million people have lost Medicaid, according to reports from 41 states and the District of Columbia, KFF reports. And 74% of people, on average, are losing coverage for "paperwork reasons," says Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at KFF. She described some of those reasons. "They didn't get the renewal notice in time. They didn't understand what they needed to do," says Tolbert. "Or they submitted the documents, but the state was unable to process those documents before their coverage was ended." (Simmons-Duffin, 8/3)

WLRN: Florida Nonprofit Renews Its Call For A Pause In Medicaid Unwinding The Florida Policy Institute is renewing a call for the state pause its Medicaid redetermination process and to opt into policy waivers offered by federal government to reduce numbers of procedural denials. The nonprofit's latest push comes after federal data shows Florida has removed 408,000 people from its Medicaid rolls since April, according to state and federal data. Only Texas has surpassed Florida's numbers. (Zaragovia, 8/2)

Covid-19 Crisis

Covid's Summer Spike Is Driving Up Hospitalizations

The specter of covid is casting a shadow in the summer sun: The Hill reports on certain U.S. counties where hospitalizations from the virus have tripled, and CBS reports a 28% hospitalization rise in New Jersey. Also in the news: details on the next covid boosters, and don't pick your nose! — it's linked to catching covid.

The Hill: COVID Summer Surge: These Areas Just Saw Hospitalizations Triple A summer surge in COVID-19 cases has spiked the number of people in the hospital with serious complications from the virus. Nationwide, COVID-related hospitalizations are up 12% in the last week of available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in some U.S. counties, the situation is dramatically worse. The CDC considers COVID-19 hospitalizations to be “medium” in 17 counties around the country. That means between 10 and 19.9 people are hospitalized with the virus for every 100,000 residents. In two places in Texas, Navarro and Freestone counties, hospitalizations were up 250% in a single week – meaning they more than tripled. (Martichoux, 8/2)

The New York Times: New York Covid Cases Are Rising Slightly, Officials Warn Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in New York, prompting the state health commissioner on Wednesday to urge New Yorkers to get tested if they have a runny nose, headache or other symptoms. Despite the uptick, several epidemiologists expressed doubt that there would be a major wave of cases in the coming weeks, as the mix of Omicron subvariants circulating in New York has not changed dramatically this summer. (Goldstein, 8/2)

CBS News: COVID Comeback: Hospitalizations Increase In New Jersey In New Jersey, there's been a 28% increase. While hospitalizations in Delaware are down 27%, there's been no change in Pennsylvania. (Stahl, 8/3)

The New York Times: Amid Signs Of A Covid Uptick, Researchers Brace For The ‘New Normal’ Echoing patterns in prior years, coronavirus infections are slowly ticking up in parts of the country, the harbinger of a possible fall and winter wave. But the numbers remain low for now, and are unlikely to reach the horrific highs seen in previous winters, experts said in interviews. Infections have been trending upward for about four weeks now, according to data gathered from wastewater monitoring, test positivity rates and hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Taken together, the figures offer researchers and public health officials the first glimpse of the coronavirus as a post-pandemic, seasonal threat, a permanent fixture of the infectious disease landscape. (Mandavilli, 8/2)

On the vaccine rollout —

San Francisco Chronicle: COVID Boosters Set To Arrive Later Than Expected. Should You Wait? The anticipated release of the next round of COVID-19 booster shots has been pushed back, with updated vaccines targeting the XBB.1.5 omicron variant now expected to arrive later than expected. Health officials initially had projected the doses would be delivered by September, aligning with this year’s flu shot rollout. But the new director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the timeline has shifted. (Vaziri, 8/2)

The Daily Beast: Moderna May Be The Safest MRNA COVID Vax To Take If You’re Older When the COVID-19 vaccines began rolling out, there were initially two big ones that folks in the U.S. could choose from: Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. While both are completely safe in guarding against the coronavirus, the question of which one to choose was one that many people seriously considered—sometimes leading to memeified tribalism. However, now that we’re a few years into the rollout, scientists have had time to research their effectiveness among certain segments of the population—and now we have a much clearer picture about which vaccine might be good for who. (Tran, 8/2)

Yahoo Life: Does Anyone Care About COVID Vaccine Cards Anymore? Coronavirus cases are ticking back up in the U.S., but experts say it’s unlikely we’ll return to the era when COVID vaccine cards functioned like IDs to enter restaurants, see a show or board an international flight. So can we finally clean out our wallets and say sayonara to those little white cards? Here's what experts say. (Corey, 8/2)

Also —

The Washington Post: Nose Picking Linked To Higher Risk Of Contracting Covid, Study Shows Habitual nose picking is associated with an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus, researchers in the Netherlands found. A new study, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, showed that nearly 85 percent of 219 health-care workers surveyed reported picking their noses with varying frequencies — monthly, weekly or daily. Of those, about 17 percent contracted the coronavirus, compared with about 6 percent of those who said they did not engage in the activity. The risk was relatively the same for all nose pickers, the researchers said, regardless of how often they did it. (Bever, 8/2)

CIDRAP: New Breath Test Shows Promise For Rapid COVID-19 Detection A new device created by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis can detect SARS-CoV-2 in just one or two breaths and provide results in less than 1 minute. Study results are published in ACS Sensors. The test could be more accurate than at-home tests and faster than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or swab-based tests, which can take at least 15 minutes to produce results. The device, created by 3D printers, was tested using eight participants (two negative for COVID-19, six positive as indicated by PCR testing), who breathed two, four, and eight times into a flexible tube. The breath test provided no false results, with accurate results obtained after two breaths for each participant. (Soucheray, 8/2)

The 19th: COVID-19 PPP Loans Boosted Staffing Hours In Nursing Homes, Study Shows Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic boosted staffing in the nursing homes that took them, according to a new study in the medical journal JAMA Open Access. Nursing home staffing shortages are a long-standing problem that was only worsened by COVID-19. While the study does not say if the PPP loans — the majority of which were required to go toward staff pay — solved that shortage in nursing homes that used them, it did increase staffing hours. (Luterman, 8/2)

On the RSV vaccine —

Reuters: GSK Sues Pfizer In US For Patent Infringement Over RSV Vaccine British biopharmaceutical giant GSK sued Pfizer in a U.S. court on Wednesday, alleging that Pfizer's respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine Abrysvo violates GSK's patent rights in its rival RSV shot Arexvy. In the lawsuit brought in federal court in Delaware, GSK said New York-based Pfizer's vaccine infringes four of its patents related to the antigen its shots use to fight the respiratory disease. (Brittain, 8/2)

Reproductive Health

Tydemy Birth Control Pills Recalled Over Concerns Of Lower Effectiveness

CBS News explains the recall of two lots of Lupin Pharmaceuticals' combination hormone pills: Due to issues with some ingredients, the pills' effectiveness could be lowered. No "adverse events" linked to the batches have yet been reported. Also in the news: AI ultrasound tech, and more.

CBS News: Tydemy Birth Control Pills Recalled, May Be Ineffective, FDA Warns Thousands of Tydemy brand birth control pills have been recalled, the Food and Drug Administration warned Tuesday, after testing by drugmaker Lupin Pharmaceuticals found that two lots they made of the tablets might have lower effectiveness. Recalled batches of the Tydemy pills — a combination prescription contraceptive of estrogen and progestin — are of two specific lot numbers listed on the FDA's website. (Tin, 8/2)

In other reproductive health news —

AP: Veterans Sue U.S. Defense And Veterans Affairs Departments To Get Access To Infertility Treatments The U.S. Defense Department and the Department of Veteran Affairs are making it difficult, and sometimes impossible for veterans to get infertility treatments, according to lawsuits filed Wednesday in federal courts in New York and Boston. The lawsuits seek to hold the United States accountable for creating obstacles to health care access for a population that advocates say has a higher rate of infertility than the population at large. (Neumeister, 8/2)

Fox News: New AI Ultrasound Tech Is First To Land FDA Approval To Enhance Prenatal Care: ‘Better Health Outcomes' Artificial intelligence-powered ultrasounds are now one step closer to becoming part of routine prenatal care. Sonio Detect, an AI-powered ultrasound scanning technology, has become the first product of its kind to land FDA approval. Made by Sonio, a "femtech" company based in Paris, France, the AI product functions as a high-tech helper for maternity care professionals, scanning for warning signs that could indicate fetal health issues. (Rudy, 8/3)

St. Louis Public Radio: St. Charles County WIC Clients Get Free Prenatal Vitamins Free supplies of prenatal vitamins are now available for pregnant and postpartum women in St. Charles County’s Women, Infants and Children program. The St. Charles County Department of Public Health partnered with the California-based nonprofit, Vitamin Angels, to provide 750 bottles of prenatal vitamins. Megan Hickey, a registered dietitian and the program manager for the county’s WIC program, said prenatal vitamins are key to the healthy development of a baby. (Lewis-Thompson, 8/2)

Roll Call: Ohio Abortion Issue Fuels Push To Make Amending Constitution Harder Ohio voters next week will decide whether to make it more difficult to amend the state constitution, requiring, among other things, 60 percent of voters to support a change instead of the simple majority currently required. The Aug. 8 special election comes ahead of a November vote on whether to add a constitutional right to an abortion in Ohio. The two ballot initiatives have been tied together, since approval next week of what is known as State Issue 1 would make it more difficult to pass the abortion amendment. (McIntire, 8/2)


Medicare Could Save $245B Over A Decade If It Covered Obesity Drugs

Axios reports on a startling statistic from new research, showing how much taxpayer money could be saved over 10 years if Medicare covered weight-loss meds. Meanwhile, Stat reports that the popularity of the GLP-1 drugs has "alarmed" insurers, and patients are braced for them to halt coverage.

Axios: Medicare Could Save Billions Covering Obesity Meds: Study Medicare coverage of obesity drugs could save taxpayers as much as $245 billion over a decade by reducing demand for hospital care and skilled nursing, according to new research from the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. The study attempts to put a price tag on the public health benefits from expanding coverage as a new class of obesity drugs hits the market. (Bettelheim, 8/2)

Stat: Alarmed By Ozempic And Wegovy's Popularity, Insurers Wage Battle Patients are bracing for “D-Day,” the date their insurance companies will stop covering the drugs. Doctors are getting letters from insurance investigators discouraging new prescriptions. And pharmacies are being told by insurers to check for a specific diagnosis when filling prescriptions. It’s a charge on all fronts by insurance companies to contain the spiraling costs of a new class of weight loss-inducing drugs, the GLP-1s. (Chen, 8/3)

NBC News: Makers Of Ozempic And Mounjaro Sued Over 'Stomach Paralysis' Claims The drugmakers Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly failed to adequately warn patients about the possible risk of severe stomach problems associated with their blockbuster drugs Ozempic and Mounjaro, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday. The 26-page lawsuit, filed on behalf of a Louisiana woman who says she was “severely injured” after taking the two diabetes drugs, is the first to allege that they can cause gastrointestinal injuries. (Lovelace Jr., 8/2)

Also —

Axios: Allurion, Maker Of Weight Loss Balloons, Goes Public Allurion Technologies, a Massachusetts-based maker of swallowable gastric balloons, today will go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Anti-obesity is health care's new big thing, thanks to the popularity of new drugs like Ozempic, after a long history of most prescribed treatments being behavioral. (Primack, 8/2)

Study Links Delayed Medical Device Recalls To CEOs' Share Holdings

A new study suggests the percentage of CEO stock ownership in a company correlates with the speed the company issues medical device recalls: perhaps unsurprisingly, more shares equals slower recalls. Also in the news: a shortage of Black Widow spider bite drugs, CVS is reducing expenses, and more.

The Wall Street Journal: Timing Of Medical-Device Recalls Linked To CEO’s Ownership Stake In The Company CEO stock ownership might play a role in delays of medical-device recalls. A new study suggests that there is a correlation between the percentage of shares a company’s chief executive has and the speed at which the company initiates recalls of medical devices. In essence, the more shares, the slower the recall. (Bhattacharyya, 7/30)

Axios: Public Health Crises Collide In New Chemical Regulation Medical device makers and health care providers want to move away from using a likely carcinogenic gas to sterilize devices — but they say it's not that simple. Because eliminating ethylene oxide is expected to take so long, federal regulators must weigh the risks and benefits of using the chemical, also known as EtO, at its current scale — and stakeholder groups are at odds over the right path forward. (Goldman, 8/2)

On drug shortages —

Bloomberg: Black Widow Spider Bite Treatment In Short Supply “People can’t describe it very well, but they’re writhing in agony on their bed in the emergency department,” says Richard Dart, a poison expert who runs Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Safety, part of the Denver Health system. “And I mean writhing in agony.” There’s an antivenom that can drastically relieve the pain. But the medicine — like over 300 other drugs in the US — is in short supply. The reasons for the shortage — and the potential solutions — are illustrative of how drugmakers and hospitals might alleviate supply crunches of other medicines. (Swetlitz, 8/3)

CIDRAP: Most Drugs Made At Tornado-Ravaged Pfizer Plant Available From Other Suppliers, Experts Say While Pfizer has identified 65 injectable drugs that may be in short supply following extensive tornado damage at its Rocky Mount, North Carolina, plant on July 19, experts say most are available from other suppliers. In a July 21 letter to US hospitals, Pfizer listed the 65 at-risk drugs by name and formulation. The list includes forms of epinephrine, fentanyl, heparin, lidocaine, and sodium chloride. The company said it didn't have an estimated date for resumption of drug production at the plant, but that it would "continue to fill orders of products for which we have inventory in the distribution chain at 100 percent of historical levels." (Van Beusekom, 8/2)

More pharmaceutical news —

Modern Healthcare: CVS Health To Cut Up To $800 Million In Expenses CVS Health seeks to reduce expenses by $800 million through restructuring and layoffs to compensate for rising expenses, soft retail performance and Oak Street Health expansion costs, executives told investors Wednesday. The healthcare conglomerate reported a 37% decline in net income to $1.9 billion, or $1.48 per share, on Wednesday. Revenue increased 10.3% to $88.9 billion. CVS shares opened on the New York Stock Exchange at $72.49 Wednesday, down 2% from the closing price on Tuesday. (Tepper, 8/2)

Stat: Humana, CVS Hope To Turn Members Into Patients At Clinics Both Humana and CVS Health on Wednesday touted plans to aggressively scale their primary care clinics for seniors and funnel Medicare members into those clinics. It’s a formula that’s been mastered by UnitedHealth Group, which is both the country’s largest Medicare Advantage insurer and one of the biggest physician employers. Even so, investors signaled they think Humana and CVS can catch up, sending both companies’ stock prices higher after their respective second quarter earnings calls Wednesday morning. (Bannow, 8/2)

Stat: Pharma Showers House GOP Doctor With Campaign Cash The pharmaceutical industry has been flooding the campaign coffers of Rep. Larry Bucshon, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Republican from Indiana, according to a STAT analysis of this quarter’s filings. CEOs of pharmaceutical giants, executives of the brand-drug lobby PhRMA, and companies’ political action committees all gave in higher-than-usual numbers to the rank-and-file House member last quarter. The total was nearly $56,000 between April 14 and June 30. (Cohrs, 8/3)

Science And Innovations

Parkinson's Breakthrough Could Lead To Potential Treatment

A team at UConn Health has discovered a regulator compound that may help development of therapeutic compounds for the brain disease. Other news is on cancer research and non-opioid pain therapies.

Fox News: Connecticut Researchers Uncover Regulator Compound With Potential To Treat Parkinson's Disease: Report A University of Connecticut scientist has reportedly identified a key mechanism in Parkinson’s disease research. UConn Health, a branch of the university, said Tuesday that assistant professor of neuroscience Yulan Xiong and her team had discovered a regulator compound which holds the potential to treat the brain disorder. The work, identifying a regulator of a gene called LRRK2, was published in a recent study in The EMBO Journal. The gene, a section of DNA, is considered the basic unit of inheritance. (Musto, 8/2)

Healthline: Parkinson's Disease Symptoms: 7 Early Warning Signs Early signs of Parkinson’s disease can be easy to miss. They may include tremors, small handwriting, voice changes and a rigid facial expression. (Roth, 7/30)

In cancer research —

Axios: Biden Aims To Diversify Research Ranks With Cancer Moonshot Awards The Biden administration is committing $5.4 million to support a cohort of 11 "cancer moonshot scholars" in a new early career fellowship aimed at building a more diverse cancer research workforce, officials told Axios first. The researchers come from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences research workforces. They will pursue projects to improve prevention and early detection of cancer in "underrepresented populations" and improve cancer outcomes for all populations, Biden officials said. (Reed, 8/3)

NPR: Testing Your Genes For Cancer Risk Is Way Cheaper Now — And It Could Save Your Life A simple, relatively inexpensive blood test can now check dozens of genes associated with different kinds of cancers — cancers of the breast, ovaries, colon, pancreas, stomach, prostate and more.But experts say that most people who should be offered this kind of genetic screening for inherited cancer risk never hear of it."It's an amazing scientific advance. And it's a shame that it's not being used as widely as it could be to realize its full impact," says Sapna Syngal of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (Greenfieldboyce, 8/2)

On experimental pain therapies —

Stat: Vertex Non-Opioid Therapy Reduced Pain In Mid-Stage Trials Vertex Pharmaceuticals has spent decades trying to develop molecules that reduce pain safely and potently, searching for success in a field its own executives have dubbed a graveyard for drug discovery. Detailed data published Wednesday lent support to that quest, with a pair of company-sponsored clinical trials showing an experimental non-opioid therapy reduced pain after surgery. (Wosen, 8/2)

Health Industry

Report: Telehealth Is Healthier For The Planet

The Wall Street Journal reminds us the health care industry causes about 5% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, with U.S. systems alone accounting for a quarter of that. Hence the focus on telehealth, which is said to be helping health systems lower their carbon footprint.

The Wall Street Journal: Virtual Healthcare Has Green Benefits Virtual doctor’s appointments are helping healthcare companies reduce carbon emissions, though sustainability is mostly seen as a side benefit of telehealth rather than its main driver. The use of telehealth picked up considerably during the Covid-19 pandemic, with virtual visits increasing 38 times from their prepandemic levels and then largely stabilizing, according to 2021 figures provided by McKinsey. At first the practice was seen mostly as a way to improve patient access and convenience while reducing costs, but as the trend stabilized, healthcare companies started viewing virtual consultations as an opportunity to improve their carbon footprint. (Butini, 8/2)

In other health care industry news —

Bay Area News Group: San Jose: Good Samaritan, Regional Medical Center Hospitals Part Of Cyber Attack Two major San Jose hospitals may have been impacted by a wide-ranging cyber attack that exposed patient names, ZIP codes, phone numbers and other private information from one of America’s largest healthcare providers. (Greschler, 8/2)

CBS News: Stanford Health Care Residents Demanding Better Wages Stanford Health Care residents are demanding better wages as they say many of them are struggling with debt and making ends meet. (Darrow, 8/2)

Bloomberg: Aging Population Will Exacerbate US Health-Care Worker Shortage For much of his life, Justin Cooper’s mother was his caregiver. But she was recently hospitalized, and Cooper, who is 41 and has muscular dystrophy, can’t find enough home health aides to fill the void. Unable to hire someone who can stay late on weekends to help him get into bed, he often sleeps in his wheelchair, causing his legs to swell and develop pressure sores. “It’s been a struggle finding people who can come in at specific hours to help,” says Cooper, who lives in Chicago. “It’s not a good situation.” (Smith, 8/3)

Detroit Free Press: Corewell Health To Close Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital In Lakeview Corewell Health, Michigan's largest health system, announced this week it will close Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital in Lakeview in October because the building is outdated and there has been a steady decline in patient volumes and demand. “The decision to close the hospital was difficult,” said Andrea Leslie, president of Corewell Health’s Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital, in a statement. “For more than 60 years, generations of incredible team members have served the community at Kelsey Hospital. We are so grateful for the dedication and compassion they have for our patients and one another.” (Jordan Shamus, 8/2)

WMFE: Orlando Health Strikes A Deal With UnitedHealthcare, Retaining 70,000 Patients In-Network Orlando Health was able to come to a multiyear agreement with health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare just before an early Tuesday deadline, keeping patients under in-network coverage. Orlando Health's senior vice president, Michele Napier, released a statement Tuesday morning stating the hospital was pleased to announce it had struck a deal. (Pedersen, 8/2)

Modern Healthcare: HIMSS Sells Global Conference To London-Based Informa The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society said Tuesday it sold its annual exhibition and conference event to Informa, a London-based events and digital services company. Informa first announced its intent to acquire the HIMSS conference last Thursday. (Turner, 8/2)

Lifestyle and Health

Experts Worry Sheltering From Heat Waves Could Drive Up SAD Cases

As well as obvious immediate health risks from extreme heat, now ABC News reports psychiatric experts are concerned that as more people are forced to stay indoors, it could drive a "mental health emergency" of summer seasonal affective disorder cases. The U.S. loneliness epidemic is also in the news.

ABC News: Longer, Dangerous Heat Waves Raise Concerns Over Increased Seasonal Affective Disorder As record-breaking heat has left the South and Southwest unbearable and unhealthy for any outdoor activity, millions of Americans have been forced to stay indoors and seek out air-conditioned places. Psychiatric experts warn that the limits placed on people's activities will result in a major mental health emergency: summer seasonal affective disorder or SAD, which is a type of depression related to the weather, according to the Mayo Clinic. (Pereira, 8/3)

Axios: How To Be A Better Neighbor (And Boost Your Mental Health) A Mister Rogers-like approach to being a neighbor could be good for you. The U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of loneliness, and studies suggest that cultivating better relationships with the people who live nearby is crucial for your happiness. (Mallenbaum, 8/2)

If you are in need of help —

Dial 9-8-8 for 24/7 support from the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. It's free and confidential.

More environmental health news —

PBS NewsHour: Climate Change Is Hitting Close To Home For Nearly 2 Out Of 3 Americans, Poll Finds At the end of the hottest month on record, which left millions in the United States sweltering under heat advisories, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults say that climate change is noticeably affecting their local communities, and a majority also see climate change as causing serious effects right now, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. “People see that climate change is already a threat and will continue to be a growing threat in the future, and they support changes to keep people safe and prepared, especially on the local level,” said Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist at Climate Central, an independent research and communication organization. (Isaacs-Thomas, 8/3)

Bangor Daily News: Toxic ‘Foaming’ Watermelons Are Showing Up In Maine Most of the watermelons found at Maine stores come from Florida, Arizona, California, Delaware or Texas. ... A watermelon that has started foaming or leaking liquid should never be consumed, said Kathy Savoie, professor and food safety expert at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “The foaming indicates a real food safety issue,” Savoie said. “People should not knowingly bring it into their home and certainly not eat it.” (Bayly, 8/2)

NBC News: Toxic Bacteria Detected In Several Zion National Park Waterways Three bodies of water in the park have cyanotoxins in them, according to the Park Service: the North Fork of the Virgin River, North Creek and La Verkin Creek. These toxins are produced by a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. The algae is common in ponds and lakes and not always dangerous, but it can grow into large blooms that produce cyanotoxins. In people, symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include irritation in the eyes, ears, nose, throat or skin, as well as headache, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea. In animals and pets, symptoms include drooling, low energy, lack of appetite, paralysis and vomiting. (Pandey, 8/2)

In other health and wellness news —

CNN: Black Parents And Their Children Are More Likely To Experience Unfair Treatment When Seeking Medical Care, Study Finds Black parents and their children are more likely to experience unfair treatment when seeking medical care than others, a new study from the Urban Institute found. The study, released earlier this week, is based on data from the nonprofit's Health Reform Monitoring Survey, the latest round of which was conducted in June. Researchers found that about 22% of Black parents said they were judged unfairly or mistreated because of their race or ethnicity, language, health insurance type, weight, income, disability or other characteristics. (Gamble, 8/3)

CBS News: Add Grip Strength Tests To Weight And Blood Pressure Vital Signs, Researchers Say The amount of force you can muster with your hand is a good representation of total body strength, which is a good measure of healthy aging, even in younger individuals. Grip strength in men declines rapidly in middle age. For women, it declines slowly after 50. Low grip strength has been associated with conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression. And researchers at the University of Michigan recently found that low grip strength is associated with faster aging in cells. (Marshall, 8/2)

AP: Camp For Kids With Limb Differences Also Helps Train Students In Physical And Occupational Therapy Santino Iamunno was born without most of his right hand, and the 11-year-old tends to keep that hand in his pocket when around new people, just to avoid the questions. But that’s not something he worries about at Camp No Limits, where all the young campers are dealing with limb loss or limb differences. (Eaton-Robb, 8/2)

KFF Health News: Doctors Sound Alarm About Child Nicotine Poisoning As Vapes Flood The US Market Hospital toxicologist Ryan Marino has seen up close the violent reactions of children poisoned by liquid nicotine from electronic cigarettes. One young boy who came to his emergency room experienced intense nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, and needed intravenous fluids to treat his dehydration. Kids can also become dizzy, lose consciousness, and suffer dangerous drops in blood pressure. In the most severe case he’s seen, doctors put another boy on a ventilator in the intensive care unit because he couldn’t breathe, said Marino, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. (Szabo, 8/3)

State Watch

Syphilis Spiking In Kansas City Area; Florida Doctors Quell Leprosy Worries

The Kansas City Star reports that even as syphilis is growing more prevalent, the drugs used to treat the infection are in short supply. Separately, WMFE says that doctors are trying to stem worries over a spike in leprosy cases in Central Florida because the illness is easily treated.

Kansas City Star: Kansas City Area Sees Increase In Syphilis Infections Doctors in the Kansas City area are seeing an increase in syphilis, a dangerous sexually transmitted disease that has been growing more prevalent across Kansas and Missouri in recent years. And the medicine used to treat it is now in short supply. (Phillips, 8/2)

WMFE: Orlando Physicians Who Reported Central Florida Leprosy Trend 'Want To Allay The Fears' A team of Orlando doctors has found an interesting trend: a rise in leprosy cases in Florida with most new cases concentrated in the Central Florida area. Central Florida accounted for 81 percent of leprosy cases reported in Florida and almost one-fifth of nationally reported cases in 2022. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week published the doctors' research letter detailing their data. Dr. Charles Dunn, who reported the findings with a team of doctors, says this shouldn’t cause alarm or panic. Leprosy is not highly contagious and it’s easily treated. (Prieur, 8/2)

Kansas City Star: Home Aide Firm ‘Routinely’ Removed Minority Staff, Feds Say A home care company in New York City removed minority workers from jobs at the request of patients, federal officials said. The company, Four Seasons Licensed Home Health Care Agency, “routinely” assigned its staff based on patients’ “racial preferences,” according to a July 31 news release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announcing a lawsuit. (Rascius, 8/2)

The CT Mirror: CT Opens Walk-In Clinics For Kids Experiencing Mental Health Crises Children in mental health crisis can now go to one of the state’s four urgent crisis centers to get help rather than risking an hours-long wait in the emergency room for care, officials said Wednesday. Wednesday marked the grand opening of The Village for Families and Children‘s urgent crisis center in Hartford. The centers are designed as walk-in, outpatient clinics for kids who are having behavioral health crises such as thoughts of suicide or self-harm, depression, anxiety or out-of-control behavior, among other mental health issues. (Monk, 8/2)

The Washington Post: Over $87 Million Spent On Cannabis In Maryland’s First Month Of Adult Sales Marijuana users dropped $87.43 million on cannabis in Maryland during a strong first month of recreational sales, according to state officials, spending an average of about $2.8 million on the substance each day in July. (Shepherd, 8/2)

North Carolina Health News: NC Looks To Crack Down On Delta-8 THC Cannabis Products Stoneos instead of Oreos? Doweedos instead of Doritos? State lawmakers, law enforcement officers and federal agencies are taking steps to get these familiar-looking edibles and other delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products out of the hands of middle school and high school students. With a combination of kid-friendly packaging and no age restrictions for purchasing the products, they say it’s far too easy for children to grab a package of Stoneos or Doweedos and get high off of legal cannabis that often is in wrappers similar to those used for cookies, chips and other popular after-school snacks. (Thomae, 8/3)

The Colorado Sun: Deaths Of People Who Are Homeless In Denver Surge 50% Since Last Year The number of deaths among Denver’s homeless population so far in 2023 has spiked more than 50% compared with the number recorded at this time last year. If the upward trend continues, deaths among people who are unhoused could reach an all-time high, with accidental overdoses continuing to drive the surge, according to data from Denver’s Office of the Medical Examiner. (Prentzel, 8/2)

AP: Patient Escapes Maryland Psychiatric Hospital Through Shot-Out Window A patient escaped from one of Maryland’s state-run psychiatric hospitals Tuesday evening by exiting through a shot-out window and fleeing in a waiting getaway car, according to local police. An unidentified person approached the Eastern Shore Hospital Center, fired several gunshots into a glass window and kicked in the broken window frame, Cambridge Police Chief Justin Todd said in a news release Wednesday morning. That allowed the patient to escape, and the two drove away in a black vehicle, police said. (8/2)

KFF Health News: ‘Conscience’ Bills Let Medical Providers Opt Out Of Providing A Wide Range Of Care A new Montana law will provide sweeping legal protections to health care practitioners who refuse to prescribe marijuana or participate in procedures and treatments such as abortion, medically assisted death, gender-affirming care, or others that run afoul of their ethical, moral, or religious beliefs or principles. The law, which goes into effect in October, will gut patients’ ability to take legal action if they believe they didn’t receive proper care due to a conscientious objection by a provider or an institution, such as a hospital. (Graf, 8/3)

On LGBTQ+ health —

St. Louis Public Radio: St. Louis Queer Support Helpline - SQSH - Builds Community In recent months, discourse about queer people has dominated many state legislatures and school board meetings. Since the passage of bills in Missouri limiting access to gender-affirming care, many conversations in mainstream media have been about queer people and don’t center queer people themselves. Founded in 2019, the St. Louis Queer Support Helpline serves as a resource for LGBTQIA+ people. The goal of the helpline is to facilitate healing spaces and provide holistic support for queer St. Louisans to thrive. (Norfleet, 8/2)

NBC News: Gay Louisiana Doctor Says He’s Leaving The State Over Its ‘Discriminatory’ Legislation One of Louisiana’s few doctors specializing in pediatric heart conditions is leaving the state after the Legislature passed a variety of bills aimed at restricting rights for LGBTQ people. Dr. Jake Kleinmahon works at Ochsner Hospital for Children in New Orleans as the medical director of the hospital’s pediatric heart transplant, heart failure and ventricular assist device programs. He is just one of three doctors in the state with that specialization, he told WDSU, an NBC affiliate in New Orleans. (Yurcaba, 8/3)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: The Mazzoni Center Has Named A New Top Doc To Oversee LGBTQ Health Care The Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia’s largest LGBTQ health agency, has named Stacey Trooskin its new executive medical officer. Trooskin, an infectious-disease physician, most recently was chief medical officer at Philadelphia FIGHT, a community health nonprofit that operates in the Gayborhood. She will lead Mazzoni’s medical and behavioral health programs, including distribution of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, HIV testing and case management, gender-affirming care, and primary care. (Gutman, 8/1)

Health Policy Research

Research Roundup: Candida Auris; Myopia; Covid

Each week, KFF Health News compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.

CIDRAP: Sporicidal Disinfectants Shown More Effective Against Candida Auris Testing by a team of researchers with the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center indicates that sporicidal disinfectants are more effective against the multidrug-resistant fungal pathogen Candida auris than quaternary-ammonium disinfectants, according to a study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. (Dall, 8/2)

ScienceDaily: Study To Test Eye Drops For Nearsightedness The first randomized controlled trial of its kind aimed at identifying an effective way to manage myopia was published last week. (Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 8/1)

CIDRAP: Older People At Slightly Lower Risk Of Adverse Events After Moderna Than Pfizer COVID Vaccine Today, a Brown University–led team reports in JAMA Network Open that older people are at lower risk of adverse events after receipt of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine than the Pfizer/BioNTech version but emphasizes that the overall risk is very low with both mRNA vaccines. The Moderna vaccine was also tied to a 14% lower risk of contracting COVID-19 in this age-group. (Van Beusekom, 8/2)

CIDRAP: Biomarker May Protect Against Severe COVID In People With Obesity Researchers have identified a protein biomarker that appears to protect against severe COVID-19 in people with obesity. (Van Beusekom, 7/27)

Editorials And Opinions

Viewpoints: Men Are The New Targets Of Diet Culture; How Efficient Is AI At Finding Cancer?

Editorial writers tackle diet culture, AI in cancer detection, mental health and more.

The New York Times: ‘Huberman Husbands,’ ‘Bro Diets’ And The ‘Masculine’ Branding Of Fitness Culture After seeing a TikTok from a woman who described her “Huberman husband,” it all came together for me: My husband was amassing bits of advice from Andrew Huberman, an associate professor of neurobiology at Stanford who hosts a popular health and science podcast called “Huberman Lab” and has over four million Instagram followers. (Jessica Grose, 8/2)

Bloomberg: AI Helps Doctors Find More Breast Cancers. But Will That Save Lives? A large, rigorous study in Sweden of artificial intelligence in breast cancer screenings suggests AI can help doctors detect cancers more efficiently. We need more such studies to determine when the technology has real value — and when it might have risks. (Lisa Jarvis, 8/2)

Dallas Morning News: There’s A Mental Health Disconnect Between Executives And Remote Workers The ISG survey of more than 200 global IT and enterprise executives showed that 81% of executives view mental health as a top employee concern and a key factor in their organization’s decisions around remote and flexible working. This underscores the importance leaders are placing on mental health in the hybrid work model. (Gleb Tsipursky, 8/3)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Depression Almost Killed Me. Let's Strip The Shame From Mental Illness I lived with depression. I tried every treatment I could get my hands on — more than 10 medications, constant therapy, residential treatment facilities, intensive outpatient programs, ketamine, cannabis, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and electroconvulsive (shock) therapy. I even stopped drinking alcohol. Nothing worked. (Jonathan Nelson, 8/2)

Stat: Dramatically Reducing Cancer Deaths Requires The PASTEUR Act Researchers at the National Institutes of Health recently outlined strategies to tackle President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to cut cancer deaths in half over the next 25 years. They made one glaring omission: a plan to combat drug-resistant superbugs. (Helen W. Boucher and Kevin Outterson, 8/3)

Stat: Breakthrough Alzheimer’s Drugs Are Inaccessible In Rural States New treatments are delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, giving people aging with memory decline the potential to live independently longer. But this benefit can only be fully realized if we ensure equitable access to care. Medicare’s policies are creating obstacles that make it more difficult for patients who are highly likely to benefit to obtain access to diagnosis and treatment. There is an opportunity to lead on this important issue as new tools enable us to transform aging. (Max Baucus, 8/3)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: As A Disabled Person, I Shouldn't Pay Double So My Attendant Can Help Me At Venues Coping with a physical disability is difficult enough without people creating additional obstacles. But that is exactly what many entertainment venues in Pennsylvania have been doing to me and others like me. (Michael Anderson, 8/3)

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