The ink is barely dry on the recent covid relief bill, but Democrats in Congress and President Joe Biden are wasting no time gearing up for their next big legislative package. Meanwhile, predictions of more states expanding Medicaid have proved premature. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Cohrs of Stat and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, Rovner interviews KHN’s Lauren Weber, who reported the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” episode.
Philanthropies are funding studies of cheap, existing medications like the antidepressant fluvoxamine as covid treatments. But early hype about hydroxychloroquine and other repurposed drugs leaves researchers leery of hasty conclusions.
After a bruising confirmation process, Xavier Becerra was sworn in as secretary of Health and Human Services this week. The Senate also confirmed the nominations of former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to return to the post he held in the Obama administration, and former Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine as assistant secretary for health. Levine is the first openly transgender person to receive Senate confirmation. Meanwhile, questions continue to swirl around the AstraZeneca covid vaccine, which some public health experts worry will create more hesitancy toward other vaccines.
Progressive and conservative Democratic lawmakers, as well as President Joe Biden, are in favor of authorizing federal officials to negotiate with drugmakers over what Medicare pays for at least some of the most expensive brand-name drugs and to base those prices on the drugs’ clinical benefits. Such a measure could put Republicans in the uncomfortable position of opposing an idea that most voters from both parties generally support.
The measures would impose taxes on increases in the price of drugs that don’t reflect improved clinical value and set the rates paid by state-run and commercial health plans to a benchmark based on prices in Canada.
Public service announcements about drug use or other public health problems often fall short, public health marketing experts say, because they incite people’s worst fears rather than giving people solutions.
President Donald Trump made substantial changes to the nation’s health care system using executive branch authority. But reversing policies that Democrats oppose would take time and personnel resources, competing with other priorities of the new administration.
Most private insurance will be required to cover drugs, like Truvada, that offer protection against HIV infection, without making plan members share the cost.
While many private insurers cap what members pay in health costs, Medicare does not. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have proposed annual limits ranging from $2,000 to $3,100. But there’s disagreement about how to pay for that cost cap.
COVID-19’s “long haulers” — patients with lingering effects of the disease — have joined the ranks of Americans with preexisting conditions. For those shopping for health coverage on the individual market, here’s help navigating an uncharted insurance landscape.