This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a crackdown on smoking and vaping by ordering the removal of the Juul vaping device from the market and announcing its intention to require manufacturers of cigarettes and other tobacco products to reduce their nicotine content.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court did not release a decision in the high-rate abortion case, but said private health insurance companies could limit the amount of kidney dialysis care they provide, thereby forcing some patients to use Medicare.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politics, and Rachel Kors of Stat.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
- The FDA ordered Juul to remove its e-cigarettes from the US market because the company’s statement to the agency did not provide enough information to regulators to determine whether Juul poses a risk to users. The FDA has stated that there are concerns about the risk of some harmful chemicals being released from Juul capsules. Juul is expected to appeal the FDA decision in court.
- Juul helped spark an explosion in e-cigarette use when it hit the market, and officials initially thought it would help smokers looking to kick their habit. But the industry’s use of flavored tobacco and aggressive marketing have fueled a spike in teen tobacco use and led to regulatory crackdowns.
- The Supreme Court ruled this week that employers can make all out-of-network dialysis treatment in their employees’ health insurance plans, a decision that will likely force many patients to seek Medicare coverage to treat their kidney problems. The decision has disappointed dialysis providers, who receive less reimbursement from Medicare than they typically receive from private insurance plans.
- The decision leaves many details unresolved and further legal battles may arise. Dialysis providers may also ask Congress to enact laws to prevent employers from taking such steps.
- The Senate is likely to consider a bill proposed by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (R-NY) to lower the cost of insulin. The bill is seen as more favorable to drug makers than another measure passed by the House of Representatives this year. The Senate bill seeks to force drug makers to offer insulin at the price they received from Medicare in 2021, allowing them to bypass rebates and other costly subsidies paid to pharmacy managers and insurance plans. It will also limit out-of-pocket spending for insured consumers to $35.
- As the Senate moves closer to a vote on gun safety legislation, other efforts are underway to seek more funding for programs that help address mental health issues. These efforts can help campaigns to reduce suicide and domestic violence, which are also often associated with guns.
- The House of Representatives begins an effort to pass appropriation bills, and the original funding measure for the Department of Health and Human Services again does not include the so-called Hyde Amendment, a long-standing policy named after the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Illustr.), which prohibits the use of federal funds for most abortions. Previous attempts by the House of Representatives to strike down the Hyde Amendment failed to satisfy the Senate.
- President Joe Biden nominated Arati Prabhakar, former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to head the White House Science and Technology Policy Office. She will replace Eric Lander, who was forced to step down after reports of staff harassment.
- Prabhakar seems like an undeniable choice and has a lot of management experience. Her responsibilities will likely include overseeing pandemic planning, efforts to create a new biomedical research agency called ARPA-H, and strategies to strengthen cancer prevention.
Also this week, Rovner is interviewing KHN’s Noam N. Levy about a new KHN-NPR project on medical debt called Diagnosis: Debt.
In addition, as an added bonus, panelists recommend their favorite health policy articles of the week that they think you should also read:
Julia Rovner: “AP”New focus on veterinarian welfare at Westminster Dog Showby Jennifer Peltz
Joan Kenen: Fern.org websiteBack Forty: How to protect farm workers from heat-related kidney diseaseby Nancy Averett
Rachel Kors: Markup “Facebook receives sensitive medical information from hospital websites”, Todd Feathers, Simon Fondry-Teitler, Angie Waller and Surya Mattu
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