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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The ACA Lives

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

For the third time in nine years, the Affordable Care Act has survived a constitutional challenge at the Supreme Court. In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that the states and individuals who filed the latest challenge lacked standing to sue.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are looking for ways to expand health benefits as they pull together spending plans on Capitol Hill. And criticism is growing of the Food and Drug Administration, which approved a controversial drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease over the recommendation of its own expert outside advisers.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Rachel Cohrs of Stat.

Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • The ACA
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Corte Suprema se niega a revocar ACA, por tercera vez

La Corte Suprema se negó por tercera vez a revocar la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio (ACA) el jueves 17 de junio, desestimando una demanda presentada por un grupo de fiscales generales estatales republicanos que alegaban que un cambio realizado por el Congreso en 2017 había vuelto inconstitucional a toda la ley.

Por 7 a 2 votos, los jueces ni siquiera llegaron a los méritos del caso, resolviendo que los estados e individuos demandantes, dos personas de Texas cuentapropistas, carecían de “argumentos” para llevar el caso a los tribunales.

“No procederemos más allá”, escribió el juez Stephen Breyer. “Ni los individuos ni los demandantes estatales han demostrado que el daño que sufrirán o hayan sufrido sea ‘razonablemente atribuible’ a la ‘conducta supuestamente ilegal’ de la que se quejan”.

Los dos jueces disidentes, Samuel Alito y Neil Gorsuch, no estuvieron de acuerdo. “Los estados han demostrado claramente que … Read the rest

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Unvaccinated, Homebound and Now Hospitalized With Covid in New York City

Dr. Leora Horwitz treats fewer and fewer covid patients at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Still, she thinks there are too many.

And they almost all have something in common.

“I’ve only had one patient who was vaccinated, and he was being treated for cancer with chemotherapy,” she said, reflecting recent research on the vaccines’ limited effectiveness for cancer patients. “Everyone else hasn’t been vaccinated.”

While taking care of those seriously ill with covid, she asks patients, with sympathy and respect: Why not get vaccinated? A few of them told the internist and hospital researcher that they’re concerned about vaccine safety. But mainly, she said, the responses break down into two groups: One comprises people who have been planning to get vaccinated but didn’t get around to it yet. The second highlights a disturbing deficiency in the pandemic response: those eager to get vaccinated but unable to … Read the rest

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Being Vaccinated Doesn’t Mean You Must Go Maskless. Here’s Why.

For more than a year, public health officials have repeatedly told us that masks save lives. They’ve warned us to keep our distance from our neighbors, who’ve morphed into disease vectors before our eyes.

Now they are telling us that if we’re vaccinated, we no longer need to wear masks or physically distance ourselves in most cases — even indoors. To many people, myself included, this seems hard to reconcile with so many long months of masking and physical distancing and sacrificing our social lives for fear of covid-19.

What is an anxious, pandemic-weary (and wary) soul to do?

First, it’s important to stress that the dramatic rollback of mask-wearing and physical distancing recommended last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a policy California has adopted starting Tuesday as part of a broader reopening — applies only to people who have been fully vaccinated.

Even if … Read the rest

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En crisis de salud mental, el 911 ahora no siempre responde con policías

Cuando Kiki Radermacher, terapeuta de salud mental, llegó a una casa de Missoula, Montana, por una llamada de emergencia al 911 a fines de mayo, el hombre que había pedido ayuda estaba atrincheado en una esquina, gritándole a los policías.

 La casa que estaba alquilando iba a venderse. Había llamado al 911 cuando el miedo de quedarse sin hogar lo hizo tener pensamientos suicidas.

“Le pregunté: ‘¿Quieres sentarte conmigo?’”, recordó Radermacher, miembro del equipo móvil de respuesta a crisis de la ciudad. Luego ayudó al hombre a encontrar un servicio de apoyo. “Realmente queremos empoderar a las personas para encontrar soluciones”.

Missoula comenzó a enviar a este equipo especial en llamadas de emergencia de salud mental en noviembre como un proyecto piloto, y el próximo mes el programa se volverá permanente.

Es una de las seis iniciativas de respuesta móviles a crisis en Montana, que comenzó como una prueba en … Read the rest

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Colors Of The World: Legacy Community Health Southwest Clinic

The southwest side of Houston is home to two adjoining and struggling neighborhoods: Gulfton and Sharpstown, where more than 30 percent of residents live below the poverty line and high rates of chronic disease persist. Legacy Community Health, a full-service Federally Qualified Health Center that operates 40 clinics in southeast Texas, sought to address those challenges. “We began seven years ago by purchasing a building with an existing practice to serve those neighborhoods,” says Joel Kalmin, director of facilities planning at Legacy Community Health. “Over time, we put that building through three extensive renovations to accommodate our growth there and provide expanded services.”

When a plot of vacant land adjacent to the clinic became available, Legacy saw its chance to expand in a major way and continue to meet growing demand for health services in the area. To accomplish that while keeping the existing 14,000-square-foot building open during construction, the … Read the rest

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Doctor on Call? Lawmakers Debate How Much to Pay for Phone Appointments

It took covid-19 to give millions of Americans the option of telling their doctor about their aches and pains by phone.

But now that more doctors and patients are returning to in-person appointments, policymakers across the country are divided over how much taxpayer money to keep spending on phone appointments. Although they were a lifeline for Medicaid and Medicare patients who don’t have the technology for video visits, critics say they don’t provide the same level of patient care and aren’t worth the same price.

In California, the Democratic-controlled legislature wants the state’s Medicaid program for low-income people — called Medi-Cal — to keep paying for phone calls at the same rate as for video and in-person visits, a policy that began during the pandemic. But Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget plan directs Medi-Cal to reduce the rate.

Medi-Cal paid for a whopping 2.4 million phone appointments from March 1, … Read the rest

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Journalists Discuss New Alzheimer’s Drug, Women’s Alcohol Use, the Hip-Hop and Opioids Link

KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner discussed the FDA’s approval of a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease on WAMU’s “1A” on Wednesday.

  • Click here to hear Rovner on WAMU

KHN correspondent Aneri Pattani discussed the increase in alcohol use and misuse by young women on NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Wednesday.

  • Click here to hear Pattani on NPR
  • Read Pattani’s “Women Now Drink as Much as Men — And Are Prone to Sickness Sooner“

KHN freelancer Harris Meyer discussed the FDA’s approval of a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease on Newsy on Tuesday and WCPN’s “The Sound of Ideas” on Wednesday.

  • Click here to watch Meyer on Newsy
  • Click here to hear Meyer on WCPN
  • Read Meyer’s “FDA Weighs Approval of a Lucrative Alzheimer’s Drug, but Benefits Are Iffy“

KHN social media manager Chaseedaw Giles discussed opioid use and hip-hop music on NBC Lx’s “First Look” on Tuesday.

  • Click here
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Biden Kept His Promise to Increase Covid-Testing Capacity, Even as Demand for Testing Drops

Promise: “Double the number of drive-through testing sites, invest in next-generation testing, including at home tests and instant tests, so we can scale up our testing capacity by orders of magnitude.”

Before vaccinations were widely available, covid-19 tests were considered one of the few tools to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

That’s why then-candidate Joe Biden promised during the 2020 presidential campaign to boost the United States’ testing capacity as one way he would “beat covid-19.”

Specifically, Biden’s campaign website promised that, if elected, he would “double the number of drive-through testing sites” and “invest in next-generation testing, including at-home tests and instant tests, so we can scale up our testing capacity by orders of magnitude.”

KHN has teamed up with our partners at PolitiFact to analyze Biden’s promises during the 2020 presidential campaign. Now that Biden has been president almost five months, we checked how he has … Read the rest

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Our 200th Episode!

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The Food and Drug Administration found itself in the hot seat this week when it approved a controversial new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease with scant evidence of its effectiveness.

Meanwhile, as health policy watchers wait for the Supreme Court to rule in a case threatening the Affordable Care Act, the Biden administration is reporting that a record 31 million Americans have health insurance as a direct result of the health law. And President Joe Biden seeks to gain goodwill overseas as he announces the U.S. will provide 500 million doses of covid vaccine to aid international health efforts.

This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of Politico and Sarah Karlin-Smith of … Read the rest

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