Children under 5 are the only population ineligible for a covid-19 vaccine in the United States. But that may be about to change as a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommends clearance for this group.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, senators are scrambling to write in legislative language a tentative deal reached over the weekend on gun control and mental health, and the Supreme Court says no to some administrative cuts to hospitals under the Medicare program.
This week’s panelists are KHN’s Julie Rovner, The 19th’s Shefali Luthra, Pink Sheet’s Sarah Karlin-Smith, and CQ Roll Call’s Sandhya Raman.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
- Even though vaccines will soon be available for younger Americans, the nation is mired in confusion surrounding vaccination and infectious diseases. Some people have an easier time understanding how the science is steadily changing, while others feel they have been disappointed or even betrayed by the varying strength of vaccines and changing advice on how to avoid getting sick. . This makes messaging extremely difficult. For example, with very young people eligible for vaccines, parents should understand that, even vaccinated, their young children could still be infected with covid. Vaccination only reduces the risk that their disease will be serious or require hospitalization.
- The Supreme Court this week ruled on a complicated case involving a drug discount program known as 340B. This stems from an effort by the Trump administration to reduce some payments to hospitals under the program. The court ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services had no authority to make the cuts. But the court did not, as some had predicted, attempt to weaken “Chevron deference,” a legal doctrine that effectively allows executive branch departments to interpret how they enforce federal laws. The court did not mention Chevron directly in that decision, but it may in another case awaiting decision involving the Environmental Protection Agency.
- The situation surrounding the package of guns pending in Congress becomes more complicated the closer one looks at it. For example, it’s described as a gun bill, but it’s also a mental health bill: a major component is funding for community behavioral health clinics. But this provision makes the measure costly and requires cost compensation to be found. Negotiations are likely to quickly turn partisan, making the July 4 deadline for legislation quite difficult.
- Abortion rates are rising, according to the latest analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, which for four decades has surveyed providers offering abortion services. The reasons for the increase are unclear. However, among the possibilities are that more states allow Medicaid programs to cover abortion, and that cuts made under the Trump administration to the federal family planning program, Title X, may have resulted in more unwanted pregnancies and therefore more abortions.
- States most likely to take action to ban or restrict abortion if Roe vs. Wade is canceled are also the least likely to offer social programs to low-income parents, including tax credits, health insurance and paid parental leave.
- Legislation to renew expiring user fees that help pay for FDA reviews of drugs and devices is moving quickly through Congress, unlike nearly every other legislative priority. In the Senate, however, the bill prompts controversial additions, such as language making it easier to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other developed countries. This could slow down the progress of its reauthorization. In general, however, the bill is not the “Christmas tree” of amendments it might have been considered in the past.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should also read:
Julie Rovner: Statistics “The FTC says it’s getting tougher on consolidating hospitals. Antitrust Experts Don’t Buy It,” by Tara Bannow
Shefali Lutra: politics”Michigan Abortion Providers Brace for a Ban — or a Rise,” by Alice Miranda Ollstein
Sarah Karlin-Smith: The Washington Post”What did you accept? The Doctor Check-In software collects your health data,” by Geoffrey A. Fowler
Sandhya Raman: KHN”Race is often used as medical shorthand to describe how bodies work. Some doctors want to change that,” by Rae Ellen Bichell and Cara Anthony
Also discussed on this week’s podcast:
This article was taken 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 policy research organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.