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Medicaid on the chopping block in House GOP bill
Plus: A sneak peek at next week's inspiring podcast
Happy Friday and welcome to the Friday Pulse Check. We have several interesting headlines to bring you and read down to the bottom for a sneak peek of next week’s special episode of the FLATLINING Podcast.
In the news:
CDC relaxing hospital COVID-19 reporting requirements
The change comes as the pandemic wanes in the United States. Hospitals will now report infection rates weekly rather than daily. Some metrics are also no longer required to be reported, including pediatric hospitalizations for confirmed and suspected COVID-19 infection. The CDC is hosting two webinars to help answer questions on the new requirements. Read more from the AHA.
The high price of obesity drugs
Ron and I talked in length about Wegovy, the higher dose version of Ozempic, in a podcast several weeks ago, but I bring it up again because Eli Lilly’s (LLY 0.00%↑) own version could be approved by the FDA later this year. The drug is called Mounjaro and, like Ozempic, is designed for type 2 diabetes but clinical trials have shown that it is also effective for weight loss. This all comes as there is increased reporting about these drugs’ price tags. They are all quite expensive; one headline cheekily called them “fat prices.” But as Ron and I discussed several weeks ago, insurance carriers aren’t going to touch these anytime soon because none of them want to be the only payor to cover the weight loss drugs. It would create too much cost and risk. Read more in Bloomberg.
What’s in the House GOP’s debt ceiling proposal?
House Republicans passed their proposal that would raise the federal government’s debt ceiling this week. In their bill, they want to attach work requirements to Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (thus negating Medicaid expansion). They also have several major cuts to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health. The Democratically controlled Senate says it is dead on arrival. KFF Health News (the new name for Kaiser Health News) discussed that on their podcast this week. Read more from KFF Health News.
Other articles of interest:
The FDA: Too many tests or not enough?
On the podcast this week, Ron and I discussed another case of someone thinking the FDA does too many tests on the drugs they approve (or in some cases don’t approve). The catch is that this time it is coming from a conservative who thinks there are too many restrictions when looking at new cancer drugs.
Now, the author of the commentary that we were discussing has not said anything on the mifepristone debate that I could find. But, his opinion on cancer drugs fits very well into this legal debate about who can tell the FDA what to do.
Also on the podcast this week, we talked a little bit more about long COVID-19 and how much money the federal government has spent covering it. Plus, we discussed studies on whether or not the COVID-19 vaccines (or any vaccines) can cause tinnitus.
Next week on the FLATLINING Podcast
Next week we have a special episode of the FLATLINING Podcast. Dr. Dan Hurley is an ENT physician in Arizona who has been diagnosed with a fatal form of cancer. During his treatment, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona denied a medically necessary scan. He shares his story, how he managed to get BCBS to reverse the decision, and whether or not it was too late.
The US is setting up nuclear sensors in Ukraine that are able to detect bursts of radiation and point the finger at who did it. One of Russia’s tactics is to set off bombs and then blame them on their rival. These sensors, using high-tech analysis, can determine where the bomb was developed and who set it off. It goes without saying that nuclear warfare would have a devastating impact on not just the public health of Ukraine and Russia but the entirety of Europe. Read more in the New York Times. 🔒
I really hope you do check out our podcast next week. Dr. Hurley’s story is powerful and deserves to be heard far and wide. I want to be clear too, just like when Ron was interviewed for the ProPublica story, we’re not picking on one insurance carrier or another; after all, we have to work with them every day for our jobs at Fulcrum Strategies. But as provider advocates - and by extension patient advocates - we believe it is important to talk about flaws in the system especially when those flaws interrupt physicians’ abilities to practice medicine. Denying medically necessary care does that.
This episode will be out next week and you can check out this sneak peek below:
Have a good weekend,