President Joe Biden’s announcement in a nationwide interview that the COVID-19 pandemic is “over” has complicated his own administration’s efforts to convince Congress to allocate more funds for treatments and vaccines, and to get the public another one. booster dose.
Meanwhile, fears of a resurgence of healthcare inflation for the first time in a decade are helping drive up insurance premiums, and private companies are struggling to claim their share of the healthcare spending pie.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politics, and Lauren Weber of KHN.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
- Biden’s comment on “60 Minutes” that the pandemic is over – though Covid is still a problem – highlights the difficulty of educating the public on how to move from a public health crisis to a public health issue.
- Most of the country can agree with the president, as evidenced by fewer people regularly wearing masks and fewer covid-related commercial restrictions. But a few hundred people still die every day, and the big losses are often overlooked.
- Insurance premiums appear to have risen this fall, although health care spending has not risen as fast in recent months as in other sectors of the economy. This increase may reflect insurers’ fears that consumers will seek more healthcare services in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
- One aspect of the healthcare business that is driving up costs is the increase in investment by private equity firms, which are expanding beyond emergency physicians and some other specialties to a broader range of medical services, including gastroenterology and ophthalmology.
- Another concern with future healthcare spending is the move towards consolidation in healthcare. Recent developments on that front included Amazon’s announcement of a shift to primary care with the purchase of One Medical and CVS’s decision to buy home health care company Signify Health.
- Abortion policy continues to make the news in various states. West Virginia passed a law banning nearly all abortions; several Utah Republican lawmakers sent cease and desist letters to abortion providers in their state; and Puerto Rico has a new political party campaigning on the issue of trying to rein in the Commonwealth’s liberal abortion law.
- While Democrats are hoping the abortion issue will win more voters in the midterms, it’s unclear if general support for abortion will become a deciding issue for voters in more conservative states or lead to any change.
In addition, as an added bonus, panelists recommend their favorite health policy articles of the week that they think you should also read:
Julie Rovner: Anchorage Daily NewsMany Alaskan pharmacies are understaffed, resulting in sporadic opening hours and patient dropoutsby Annie Berman
Joan Kenen: Capital B’s”Clinicians dismiss the pain of black women. Consequences are terribleMargo Snipe
Anna Edney: “Guardian”Fury at ‘Forever Chemicals’ as US states spread toxic sewage sludgeby Tom Perkins
Lauren Weber: KHN “Doctors Rush to Use Supreme Court Decision to Avoid Opioid Charges” by Brett Kelman.
Also mentioned in this week’s issue:
- KHN “Private Equity sees billions in eye care as firms target high-margin procedures,” Lauren Weber.
- New York Times’ “‘Disaster Mode’: Emergency rooms across Canada close due to crisis”, Vyosa Isai
- JAMA Network Open «Prevalence and risk factors for medical debt and subsequent changes in the social determinants of health in the United States“, the doctors. David W. Himmelstein, Samuel L. Dickman, Danny McCormick, et al.
- “New England Journal of Medicine”Uncovered Medical Bills After Sexual Assault”, Correspondence of Dr. Samuel L. Dickman, Dr. Gracie Himmelstein, Dr. David W. Himmelstein, Katherine Strandberg, Alicia McGregor, Dr. Danny McCormick, and Dr. Steffi Woolhandler.
- “Salt Lake Tribune”Utah Republican Party officials Birkeland and Lisonbee say their threats against abortion providers were only their “opinion” and not a legal documentEmily Anderson Stern
- New York Times’ “Abortion Helps Reshape Puerto Rican Politics, Giving Conservatives a Chance”, Patricia Mazzei
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