President Joe Biden’s declaration in a national interview that the COVID-19 pandemic is “over” has complicated his administration’s efforts to get Congress to provide more funding for treatments and vaccines, and to get the public to go get another boost.
Meanwhile, concerns about the return of medical inflation for the first time in a decade are helping to drive up premiums, and private companies are scrambling to claim their part of the healthcare spending pie.
This week’s panelists are KHN’s Julie Rovner, Bloomberg News’ Anna Edney, Joan Kenin from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politics, and KHN’s Lauren Weber.
Among the points learned from this week’s episode:
- Biden’s comment on “60 Minutes” that the pandemic is over – even though Covid remains a problem – highlights the difficulty of communicating to the public about how to move from a public health crisis to a public health problem.
- Much of the country may agree with the president, as evidenced by fewer people regularly using face masks and fewer business restrictions related to the virus. But several hundred people still die every day, and a large number of deaths are often overlooked.
- Premiums appear to be rising this fall, although medical costs have not risen as quickly as other parts of the economy in recent months. The increase may reflect insurers’ concerns that consumers will seek more medical services after emerging from the coronavirus crisis.
- One aspect of the health business that drives costs up is increased investment by private equity firms, which are expanding their reach beyond emergency room physicians and some other specialties into a broader range of medical services, including gastroenterology and ophthalmology.
- Another concern for the future of health costs is the move toward standardization in health care. Among the recent developments on this front are Amazon’s announcement that it is moving into primary care with its purchase of One Medical and CVS’s decision to buy home health care company Signify Health.
- Abortion policies continue to make news in various states. West Virginia passed a law restricting nearly all abortions; Several Republican lawmakers in Utah sent cease-and-desist letters to abortion providers in their state; Puerto Rico has a new political party campaigning on the issue of trying to curb the Commonwealth’s liberal abortion law.
- While Democrats hope that the abortion issue will cause more voters to swing their way in the midterm elections, it is not clear whether public support for abortion will be a critical issue for voters in more conservative states and will make any changes.
Plus, for extra credit, panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories for the week that they think you should read too:
Julie Rovner: Anchorage Daily News’Many Alaskan pharmacies are understaffed, leading to sporadic hours and turning away patientsWritten by Annie Berman
Joan Kenin: Capital B’sDoctors dismiss the pain of black women. The consequences are direBy Margo Snape
Anna Edney: Parents “Rage over ‘forever chemicals’ as US spreads toxic sewage sludgeWritten by Tom Perkins
Lauren Webber: KHN’sDoctors rush to turn to Supreme Court ruling to escape opioid chargesWritten by Brett Kellman
As stated in this week’s episode:
- KHN’sPrivate equity sees billions in eye care as companies target high-profit actionsWritten by Lauren Webber
- New York times’ “‘Disaster mode’: Emergency rooms closed across Canada amid crisis“by Vjosa Isai
- JAMA Open Network”Prevalence and risk factors for medical debt and subsequent changes in social determinants of health in the United StatesDavid U Himmelstein, Samuel L. Dickman, Danny McCormick, et al.
- The New England Journal of Medicine”Medical bills exposed after sexual assaultCorrespondence from Dr. Samuel L. Dickman, Dr. Gracie Himmstein, and Dr.
- The Salt Lake TribuneUtah Republican Party representatives Burkeland and Leesonby said their threat to abortion providers was only their “opinion” and not legally based.Written by Emily Anderson Stern
- New York times’ “Abortion helps realign Puerto Rican politics, giving conservatives a chance to open upBy Patricia Mazzi
This article was reprinted from khn.org Courtesy of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
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