Thursday, September 22, 2022 – Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Health News Original Stories
Buy and Bust: After Platinum Health Took Control of Noble Sites, All Hospital Workers Were Fired
Two Missouri towns are without operating hospitals after private equity-backed Noble Health left both facilities mired in debt, lawsuits, and federal investigations. The hospitals’ new operator, Platinum Health, agreed to buy them in April for $2 and laid off the last employees in early September. (Sarah Jane Tribble, )
Death Is Anything but a Dying Business as Private Equity Cashes In
Investors are banking on increased demand in death care services as 73 million baby boomers near the end of their lives. (Markian Hawryluk, )
Opponents of California’s Abortion Rights Measure Mislead on Expense to Taxpayers
California Together, which opposes Proposition 1, warns that taxpayers will pay millions more if the abortion rights constitutional amendment passes because it would attract women from out of state. We take a closer look. (Rachel Bluth, )
Shift in Child Hospice Care Is a Lifeline for Parents Seeking a Measure of Comfort and Hope
Terminally ill children, unlike adults, can get hospice services while continuing to receive life-extending or curative care. More than a decade after the inception of the federal policy, it is widely credited with improving the quality of life for ailing children and their families, even as some parents find themselves in a painful stasis. (Bernard J. Wolfson, )
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Bivalent Boosters For Kids 5 And Up Likely Coming In October
Pfizer is developing a bivalent shot for children ages 5 to 11, and Moderna is creating one for those ages 6 to 17, Becker's Hospital Review reports. Currently, the new Pfizer booster is only for those 12 and older, and Moderna's is for 18 and up.
Becker's Hospital Review: Omicron Boosters For Kids Expected By Mid-October: CDC
Retooled COVID-19 booster shots that target omicron subvariants could be authorized and available for children to receive within a month, the CDC said in an vaccination planning guide released Sept. 20. Pfizer is developing a bivalent vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, while Moderna's would be eligible for those ages 6 to 17.  (Bean, 9/21)
ABC News: Updated Boosters For Elementary School-Aged Children 'Weeks' From Authorization: FDA Vaccine Chief
"I'm confident that we're only a matter of weeks away" from authorizing the 5-11 age range, FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said during an event with the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project. Marks said that the youngest age group, kids under 5, was still "a few months away" from authorization. (Jhaveri, Haslett and Salzman, 9/21)
More on the vaccine rollout —
Stat: Catalent Is Scolded By FDA At A Plant That Helps Make Covid-19 Vaccines
Catalent, one of the largest contract manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry, was cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a series of quality control failures at a facility in Bloomington, Ind., the same plant where the company helps produce two Covid-19 vaccines. (Silverman, 9/21)
The Boston Globe: COVID-19 Vaccination Continues To Lag For The Youngest Children In Mass.
In June, the federal government recommended COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 6 months through 4 years old, but Massachusetts parents, like their counterparts across the country, have been slow to bring their children in for the shots. Only 16 percent of children in that age group have had at least one shot, according to the state Department of Public Health. (Finucane and Dixon, 9/21)
AP: State Employees Likely To Get 1K Bonuses For COVID Booster 
Under a tentative deal Washington state employees would get $1,000 bonuses for receiving a COVID-19 booster shot. The agreement between the state and the Washington Federation of State Employees also includes 4% pay raises in 2023, 3% pay raises in 2024 and a $1,000 retention bonus, The Seattle Times reported. (9/22)
Covid-19 Crisis
Child Uninsurance Rate Dropped During Pandemic, Data Show
The decrease — from 5.7% in 2019 to 5.4% in 2021 — is being called a “small but significant decline,” equating to 200,000 more children with health insurance, Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families said.
Stateline: More Children Have Gained Health Insurance During Pandemic
The rate of children without health insurance declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, likely the result of a provision passed by Congress that barred states from dropping anyone from Medicaid during the public health emergency. According to an analysis of new U.S. Census Bureau data by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, the child uninsurance rate in 2021 was 5.4%, compared with 5.7% in 2019, the year before the pandemic took hold. (Ollove, 9/21)
In other pandemic news —
The Washington Post: Nursing Home Understaffing In Pandemic Harmed Residents, House Panel Says 
A special House panel investigating the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic said it has found anecdotal evidence of understaffing at nursing homes that led to patient neglect and harm. At a hearing Wednesday, the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis discussed some of its findings, including how large nursing home chains reacted to complaints from staff and families. (Rowland, 9/21)
Becker's Hospital Review: US Healthcare Workers More Emotionally Exhausted Amid Pandemic, Study Says
Emotional exhaustion among U.S. healthcare workers worsened over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and threatens to compromise patient care, according to a Sept. 21 analysis from JAMA Network Open. (Tucker, 9/21)
Modern Healthcare: COVID-19 Tests In 2020 Compromised Due To FDA’s Authorization Process
A report released Wednesday by the HHS Office of the Inspector General pointed to problems with test performance and said patients may have received inaccurate results. The report said the federal government needs to solicit input from a variety of stakeholders and overhaul its strategy ahead of the next pandemic. (Goldman, 9/21)
The Atlantic: Fauci Addresses ‘The Pandemic Is Over’
Several days after President Joe Biden declared that “the pandemic is over,” Anthony Fauci weighed in on the president’s controversial remarks during an interview at The Atlantic Festival, an annual live event in Washington, D.C. “He was saying we’re in a much better place with regard to the fulminant stage of the pandemic,” Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, said. “It really becomes semantics and about how you want to spin it.” (Stern, 9/21)
More on the spread of covid —
Des Moines Register: Iowa Department Of Public Health Reports State's 10,000th COVID Death
Iowa has surpassed another grim milestone. The Iowa Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported the state's 10,000th death in which COVID-19 was either the underlying cause or a contributing factor. The state's official death toll for the pandemic is now 10,051. (Webber, 9/21)
Fortune: Scientists Were Worried About A Particular Variant This Fall. They Didn't Expect Its Offspring
Omicron spawn BA.2.75, dubbed “Centaurus,” seemed like the COVID variant to watch this summer—one with the potential to wreak unprecedented havoc later in the year. … Instead, one of its children, BA.2.75.2, has outcompeted it, eliminating it as a threat—but replacing it with a more formidable one. It’s one to watch this fall, says Dr. Raj Rajnarayanan, assistant dean of research and associate professor at the New York Institute of Technology campus in Jonesboro, Ark., for more reasons than one. (Prater, 9/21)
AP: Danish Queen Tests Positive After UK Monarch's Funeral 
Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II has tested positive for the coronavirus after attending the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, the royal palace said Wednesday. In a statement, the royal household said that Margrethe, 82, who has been on the throne for 50 years, canceled her official duties after the Tuesday night test. (9/21)
On vaccine and mask mandates —
The Hill: Federal Judge Strikes Down Biden Administration’s Head Start Vaccine, Mask Mandate 
A federal judge in Louisiana on Wednesday struck down a mandate from the Biden administration that required staffers at Head Start child care facilities to be vaccinated and to wear masks. U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty issued a permanent injunction against federal agencies enforcing Head Start vaccine and masking requirements. (Choi, 9/21)
Los Angeles Times: California Easing COVID-19 Mask Recommendations
In a new sign of improving coronavirus conditions, California will ease its mask-wearing recommendations for the first time in seven months. The state is largely rescinding its broad recommendation that everyone — regardless of vaccination status — mask up when in indoor public settings and businesses. That guidance had been in place since mid-February. (Lin II and Money, 9/21)
After Roe V. Wade
Republicans Quiz Biden Judicial Nominee Over Abortion Advocacy
Julie Rikelman, the White House's nominee to serve on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, is now in the GOP crosshairs because she was legal director of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She also represented the Mississippi abortion clinic at the center of the Roe v. Wade case.
The Hill: GOP Senators Grill Biden Judicial Nominee Over Past Abortion Advocacy
Republican senators on Wednesday went after Biden judicial nominee Julie Rikelman over her past work at a leading abortion advocacy organization. Rikelman, who has been nominated to serve on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, represented the Mississippi abortion clinic at the center of this year’s Supreme Court case that resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade. (Shapero, 9/21)
Reuters: Abortion Rights Lawyer Vows As Judge To Follow U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
The lawyer who represented the Mississippi clinic at the heart of the U.S. Supreme Court case that resulted in the overturning of women's constitutional right to abortion pledged during Senate testimony on Wednesday to follow that ruling despite her past advocacy if she is confirmed to the federal judiciary. Julie Rikelman, nominated by Democratic President Joe Biden to serve on the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in her confirmation hearing in Washington that she would follow the June ruling despite having fought to preserve abortion rights. (Raymond, 9/21)
In other news from Montana, California, Mississippi, and Colorado —
Billings Gazette: Opponents Say 'Born-Alive' Referendum Will Traumatize MT Families
“LR-131 is a piece of propaganda, part of a false narrative created by those who are against individuals and families who want to make health care decisions without interference from the state,” Mitchell said at a press conference at the Capitol in Helena on Wednesday. “The outcomes (that) this initiative claims to exist simply do not happen." In an interview last week, Mitchell said the referendum, if passed, would force doctors to intervene in situations where no amount of action is going to change the outcome for the family. (Michels, 9/21)
KHN: Opponents Of California’s Abortion Rights Measure Mislead On Expense To Taxpayers 
California Together, a campaign led by religious and anti-abortion groups, is hoping to persuade voters to reject a ballot measure that would cement the right to abortion in the state’s constitution. The group is warning that taxpayers will be on the hook for an influx of abortion seekers from out of state. Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot by the Democratic-controlled legislature in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. If passed, it would protect an individual’s “fundamental right to choose to have an abortion,” along with the right to birth control. (Bluth, 9/22)
AP: Mississippi City Proposes Newborn Safe Haven Wall Box 
Long Beach has become the first Mississippi city to start approval of a “baby box,” where parents can anonymously give up infants. The baby box would be the first installed between Texas and Georgia, The Gazebo Gazette reported. (9/21)
The Colorado Sun: Young Teens In Foster Care Don’t Know About Birth Control
Teenagers in the child welfare system have sex two years younger on average than other young people and are 2.5 times more likely to get pregnant. New research from the University of Colorado points toward why: About two-thirds of eighth and ninth graders in metro Denver who have been involved with the child welfare system say they have never received information about birth control. (Brown, 9/21)
Some Medtronic Insulin Pumps Can Be Hacked, FDA Warns
An unsettling report at Reuters centers on certain types of MiniMed pump systems made by Medtronic, which the Food and Drug Administration warned on Tuesday may be vulnerable to cyberattacks, impacting insulin delivery to patients with diabetes.
Reuters: FDA Warns Of Cybersecurity Risk With Certain Medtronic Insulin Pumps 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday warned that certain types of insulin pump systems manufactured by Medtronic were vulnerable to cyberattacks and that hackers could potentially hamper insulin delivery by accessing the device. The agency issued a cybersecurity risk alert for the Medtronic MiniMed 600 Series insulin pump system, which has several components including an insulin pump and a blood glucose meter that communicate wirelessly. (9/21)
In other pharmaceutical industry news —
Houston Chronicle: TMC Plans To Build Massive Biomanufacturing, Distribution Center
The Texas Medical Center plans to build a 500-acre biomanufacturing and medical supplies distribution center in Houston, a project that represents the latest push to establish the city as a premier hub for life sciences. The new campus, called TMC BioPort, is still in the early stages of development. But once it's completed, it’s expected to double the overall size of the medical center and create 100,000 jobs for Greater Houston residents, TMC President and CEO Bill McKeon said. (MacDonald, 9/21)
USA Today: Adderall Shortage 2022: Limited Supplies Hit Two More US Drug Makers
Lannett Co. and Par Pharmaceuticals are the most recent companies experiencing with limited supplies of generic extended-release Adderall, according to the University of Utah Pharmacy Services website, which tracks drug shortages nationwide. More than six in 10 small pharmacies reported having difficulty in August obtaining the medication, a survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association found. (Neysa Alund, 9/21)
Newsweek: Antidepressants Work Better Than Sugar Pills Only 15 Percent Of The Time
Hailed as a revolution for the treatment of depression when they first came out in the 1980s, SSRIs have become a mainstay of mental health treatment. Family doctors with little psychiatric training now prescribe them for adults and children alike. In 2019, one in eight Americans—43 million in all—were taking an SSRI, and those numbers have likely risen among a public ridden with COVID-induced anxiety. During the pandemic, doctors phoned in so many new prescriptions for Zoloft, the FDA warned of a drug shortage. Evidence is mounting, however, that doctors are vastly overprescribing SSRIs. (Piore, 9/21)
NPR: Why Mosquitoes Were The Vaccinators In A New Malaria Vaccine Trial
One Seattle morning, Carolina Reid sat in a room with nine other volunteers, each waiting to take part in a clinical trial for a new, experimental malaria vaccine. Reid's turn came. She put her arm over a cardboard box filled with 200 mosquitoes and covered with a mesh that keeps them in but still lets them bite. "Literally a Chinese food takeout container" is how she remembers it. A scientist then covered her arm with a black cloth, because mosquitoes like to bite at night. Then the feeding frenzy began. (Barnhart, 9/21)
Stat: Researchers Show They Can Quickly Turn CAR-T Cells On And Off 
Researchers reported Wednesday that they could quickly and reliably turn CAR-T cells on and off in cancer patients, giving scientists an unprecedented level of control over this potent — but at times dangerous — oncology therapy. (Wosen, 9/21)
FDA Received Over 100 Reports On Side Effects From Delta-8 THC
Reports say that the variant of THC is being sold in places across the U.S. even where pot remains illegal. Concerns are growing about contaminants and worrisome side effects. Separately, marijuana lounges are approved in Las Vegas, and two Georgia companies are approved for medical marijuana.
USA Today: Delta-8 Side Effects: FDA Has Received More Than 100 Reports
Similar products that contain delta-8 THC are sold online and at bars and retailers across much of the U.S., including some places where pot remains illegal. That’s because a 2018 federal law legalized hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant. Hemp isn’t allowed to contain more than 0.3% of the psychotropic delta-9 THC found in marijuana. (Berger, 9/22)
In marijuana news —
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Marijuana Lounges Approved In Las Vegas, Unincorporated Clark County
Cannabis consumption lounges are coming to the city of Las Vegas. In a 5-1 vote, the City Council on Wednesday denied Councilwoman Victoria Seaman’s motion to opt out of allowing such businesses. (Torres-Cortez, 9/21)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Medical Marijuana Licenses Granted To 2 Georgia Companies For THC Oil
A final vote awarded Georgia medical marijuana production licenses to two companies Wednesday, a major step toward ending a seven-year delay that left registered patients with no way to legally buy the drug that they’re allowed to consume. (Niesse, 9/21)
In other news about drug use —
CBS News: Overdose Deaths Surge As Fentanyl Floods Colorado
The leading cause of overdoses is fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that's 50 times more powerful than heroin. Overdose deaths topped 100,000 for the first time ever in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with nearly 70% of them involving fentanyl. Colorado saw an almost 70% increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses from 2020 to 2021, with more than 900 deaths total last year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (Pegues, 9/21)
Roll Call: With Overdoses Rising, A Push For Syringe Service Programs
Experts say the spike in overdoses and diseases related to sharing needles means it’s time to revoke a longtime ban restricting federal funds for syringe exchanges. (Raman, 9/21)
Health Industry
Investing In Mental Health Saves Lives, Brings Financial Benefits: Lawmakers
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Democrat, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican, spoke at a "Cost of Mental Health Inequities” event, held by media outlet The Hill. Other industry news is from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Oregon, Texas, and elsewhere.
The Hill: Lawmakers Point To Financial Returns Of Mental Health Care Investment
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) expressed support on Wednesday for more mental health care investments, pointing to the tens of thousands of lives potentially saved and the billions of dollars invested in a more comprehensive federal program that would benefit the U.S. Both lawmakers spoke at the “Cost of Mental Health Inequities” event moderated by The Hill contributing editor Steve Scully. (9/21)
In other health care industry news —
The Boston Globe: Even After Receiving Millions From The State, Hospitals In R.I. Are Still Bleeding Money
Since coming out of retirement to be the interim CEO and president of Lifespan Corp., Arthur Sampson has been dreading what he says is inevitably coming down the pike: the backlog of sick patients who did not have their tests and screenings done during the pandemic. (Gagosz, 9/21)
The CT Mirror: CT's Hospital Systems Are Buying Private Practices, Small Hospitals
Connecticut’s health care industry is becoming increasingly concentrated. In return, some small private practices in the state are finding it difficult to compete with big health care systems. (Golvala, Phillips and Altimari, 9/21)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Siteman Cancer Center Joins Forces With The University Of Missouri
Cancer researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are joining forces to hasten scientific breakthroughs and improve access to cancer treatments across the state, the two universities announced this week. (Munz, 9/21)
AP: Oregon State Hospital Issued $54K Workplace Safety Fine
The Oregon State Hospital is facing a $54,000 fine for failing to investigate workplace injuries. The citation, brought by the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, alleges that from January 2021 to June 2022 the hospital didn’t investigate every time workers suffered an injury or illness that caused them to miss work, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. The hospital didn’t look at ways to prevent future injuries and illness from occurring, according to the citation. (9/22)
San Francisco Chronicle: Court Reinstates Malpractice Suit Against UCSF By Woman Whose Child Was Stillborn
A state appeals court says a woman who had a stillborn child in 2016, three days after undergoing pregnancy-related treatment at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, can sue the hospital for alleged medical malpractice, overruling a judge’s decision that she had waited too long to sue. (Egelko, 9/21)
Stat: Blockchain In Financial Services Offers A Case Study For Health Care Adoption
Not long ago, blockchain technology captured the imagination — and the wallets — of financial services firms that sought a “first-mover” advantage by integrating it into their outdated management systems. Now it’s the health care sector’s turn. (Weems, 9/22)
Houston Chronicle: Texas Pays Attendants For Disabled People Just $8.11 Per Hour
Nancy Crowther worries every time her personal care attendant leaves the house. She worries that her attendant will see the Dairy Queen banner boasting $16 an hour flapping in the wind on her drive to the grocery store and be tempted to apply. Worries that the taco place down the street promising $17 an hour will catch her eye. (Stuckey, 9/21)
KHN: Shift In Child Hospice Care Is A Lifeline For Parents Seeking A Measure Of Comfort And Hope 
When you first meet 17-month-old Aaron Martinez, it’s not obvious that something is catastrophically wrong. What you see is a beautiful little boy with smooth, lustrous skin, an abundance of glossy brown hair, and a disarming smile. What you hear are coos and cries that don’t immediately signal anything is horribly awry. But his parents, Adriana Pinedo and Hector Martinez, know the truth painfully well. (Wolfson, 9/22)
More on the debate over private equity —
KHN: Buy And Bust: After Platinum Health Took Control Of Noble Sites, All Hospital Workers Were Fired 
The news, under Noble Health letterhead, arrived at 5:05 p.m. on a Friday, with the subject line: “Urgent Notice.” Audrain Community Hospital, Paul Huemann’s workplace of 32 years, was letting workers go. Word travels fast in a small town. Huemann’s wife, Kym, first heard the bad news in the car when a friend who’d gotten the letter, too, texted. (Tribble, 9/22)
KHN: Death Is Anything But A Dying Business As Private Equity Cashes In
Private equity firms are investing in health care from cradle to grave, and in that latter category quite literally. A small but growing percentage of the funeral home industry — and the broader death care market — is being gobbled up by private equity-backed firms attracted by high profit margins, predictable income, and the eventual deaths of tens of millions of baby boomers. The funeral home industry is in many ways a prime target for private equity, which looks for markets that are highly fragmented and could benefit from consolidation. By cobbling together chains of funeral homes, these firms can leverage economies of scale in purchasing, improve marketing strategies, and share administrative functions. (Hawryluk, 9/22)
Environmental Health
US Ratifies Treaty To Phase Down Polluting HFC Gas Used In Inhalers
The decision to phase down use of hydrofluorocarbons, found in pharmaceutical inhalers, air conditioners and fridges, came nearly six years after the global climate treaty effort began. Meanwhile the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covers lead water pipe removal efforts, which may take decades.
NPR: U.S. Will Phase Down HFCs, Polluting Compound Found In ACs And Refrigerators
Nearly six years after the United States helped negotiate it, the Senate has ratified a global climate treaty that would formally phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, industrial chemicals commonly found in air conditioners and refrigerators, insulating foams and pharmaceutical inhalers. (Benshoff, 9/21)
In other environmental health news —
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Mayor Johnson Calls 70-Year Timeline For Replacing Lead Pipes 'Unacceptable' At Mayor Council On Water Equity
Johnson, who was recently named a co-chair of the Mayors Commission On Water Equity along with Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, made his comments Thursday at the One Water Summit, where mayors from two dozen cities reaffirmed commitments to address water safety, from reducing lead contaminated water to addressing aging water infrastructure in their cities. (Shelbourne, 9/21)
AP: 98% Of Schools And Child Centers Finish Mandated Lead Fixes 
Mandatory testing for lead in drinking water — and repairs to keep that water safe — has been completed at 98% of the Vermont’s schools and child care centers, the state Health Department said Wednesday. Vermont passed a law in 2019 requiring schools and child care facilities to test their drinking and cooking water for lead, a highly toxic metal. (9/21)
Bangor Daily News: Union Public Drinking Water System Takes Well Offline After Testing High For PFAS
A well serving Union residents connected to the public drinking water system has been taken offline after tests showed high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, often called forever chemicals. The well operated for a total of 19 days in 2022, and was not used in 2021 or 2020, according to Maine Water Co., which provides water to towns across Maine, including the 100 connections in Union. The well served residents prior to 2020. (Rhoda, 9/21)
AP: Wildfire Smoke Reaches Unhealthy Levels In Seattle 
Wildfire smoke made the air quality unhealthy for everyone in downtown and North Seattle, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said Wednesday morning. The agency said a plume of smoke from the Bolt Creek fire near Skykomish was being blown west to Everett, then south into parts of Seattle, The Seattle Times reported. (9/22)
Also —
Modern Healthcare: Puerto Rico’s Healthcare Supply Chain Reacts To Hurricane Fiona
Hurricane Maria hit medical device company Baxter International especially hard. Its Puerto Rican facilities were largely responsible for making small-volume IV bags, while large-volume bags were manufactured on the mainland. Hospitals resorted to using the larger bags to deliver medications to patients, increasing demand for that product. Baxter's fourth-quarter revenues were down $70 million due to manufacturing disruptions following the 2017 storm. (Berryman and Hartnett, 9/21)
State Watch
California's Office To Fight Gun Violence Will Be First In US
Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the state’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention on Wednesday. In other news from the states, New Mexico expects a Medicaid exodus, Rhode Island approves a health insurance rate increase, and more.
San Francisco Chronicle: California To Create Nation’s First Office To Combat Gun Violence
California will soon be the only state in the nation to have a governmental office committed to preventing gun violence, state officials said Wednesday. Standing outside the violence prevention organization, United Playaz on Howard Street in San Francisco, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the state’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention, a first-of-its-kind unit that will work with multiple agencies to deal with the mounting issue of gun violence across the state. (Vainshtein, 9/21)
In other health news from across the U.S. —
AP: New Mexico Braces For Exodus From Medicaid Insurance
New Mexico is bracing for a rapid exodus of up to 100,000 people from subsidized Medicaid health care next year as the federal government phases out special pandemic-era spending and eligibility for the program, the state’s top health official told lawmakers Wednesday. (Lee, 9/21)
The Boston Globe: R.I. Approves Health Insurance Rate Increases
Three months after health insurance companies requested the state approve steep rate increases, Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner announced he has approved rate increases for the largest companies, with slight modifications. The Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner on Wednesday released the individual, small, and large group market premium rates, which will go into effect next year. (Gagosz, 9/21)
New Hampshire Bulletin: N.H. Hospital Beds Are Full, But Not With COVID-19 Patients
When COVID-19 hospitalizations hit 433 in January, hospitals were so desperate for space they treated some patients in hallways and sent others to neighboring states. But even as the number of COVID-19 patients has plummeted, hospital beds remain in high demand. (Timmins, 9/21)
Wyoming Public Radio: The Veterans Administration And The State Of Wyoming Launch A Campaign To Raise Awareness About Veteran Health Care Options
The Veterans Administration and the State of Wyoming have launched a new campaign that connects veterans that are traveling with telehealth and mental health resources. The collaborative effort also aims to raise awareness of these resources for veterans who live in rural areas by posting flyers in public areas such as rest areas throughout the state with information about them, including the nearest VA location, the veteran’s crisis line, and telehealth options. (Cook, 9/21)
In monkeypox updates from Missouri and California —
St. Louis Public Radio: Form Could Keep LGBT Missourians From Monkeypox Vaccine
Some LGBTQ advocates worry Missouri health officials could discourage people from getting vaccinated by asking them about their sexual behavior and identity. (Fentem, 9/21)
The 19th: LGBTQ+ Advocates Push For Better Monkeypox Outreach At Colleges
When monkeypox cases began to rise over the summer, scientists at the University of California, San Diego, experimented with a way to reduce community spread — surveilling wastewater for the virus just as they have for COVID-19. (Nittle, 9/21)
Lifestyle and Health
Eating Kale Makes Babies Scowl In Utero, Study Finds
A surprising study reported at NBC News shows how food eaten during pregnancy makes fetuses respond to flavors: carrots lead to smiles, but kale doesn't. A separate report at USA Today covers a study suggesting that snacking on apples is better for mental health than potato chips.
NBC News: Babies Smile Over Carrots And Scowl Over Kale Inside The Womb
Fetuses in the womb scowled after their mothers ate kale but smiled after they ate carrots, according to a new study of around 100 pregnant women and their fetuses in England. The study offers a rare look at how fetuses respond to flavors in real time. (Bendix, 9/22)
USA Today: Apples Surpass Potato Chips As Better Snacks For Mental Health: Study
Frequently snacking on fruits can make you feel better, while tasty but less healthy snacks such as potato chips may lead to psychological harm and memory problems, new research suggests. Researchers from Aston University in Birmingham, England, published the findings in the British Journal of Nutrition this past spring. (Martin, 9/21)
NBC News: What Happens When You Don't Get Enough Sleep? Blood Samples Show Heart Risks
An analysis of blood samples from 14 healthy volunteers who agreed to have their sleep shortened by 1½ hours each night for six weeks revealed long-term changes in the way these stem cells behaved, leading to a proliferation of the white blood cells that can spark inflammation, according to the report published Wednesday in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. (Carroll, 9/21)
The Washington Post: How To Take A Pill: Our Posture Affects How We Digest Pills, Study Says 
The next time you take a pain reliever for that headache, you may want to consider your posture. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found whether you’re standing upright or leaning, as well as which side you’re leaning to, could affect how fast the contents of a pill are absorbed into your body. The bottom line: leaning to your right side after swallowing a pill could speed absorption by about 13 minutes, compared to staying upright. Leaning to the left would be a mistake — it could slow absorption by more than an hour. (Amenabar and Steckelberg, 9/21)
The Washington Post: What Is The Best Time Of Day To Exercise? Your Gender May Be A Factor
There is no wrong time to exercise, but there may be some times that are more right than others. The best time of day to exercise can depend on your gender and even whether you want to burn fat or get stronger, according to a helpful new study of men, women and exercise timing. It found that, for women, morning workouts zapped abdominal fat and improved blood pressure better than late-day training. For men, evening exercise led to greater fat burning and better blood pressure control. Evening exercise also amplified the benefits of strength training, but more so for women. (Reynolds, 9/21)
Also —
Bloomberg: Kids Born After A Natural Disaster More Likely To Have Anxiety, Depression, Study Shows
The stress of a natural disaster during pregnancy may substantially increase the risk of childhood anxiety, depression or other behavior disorders, according to a new study published Wednesday in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. (Taylor, 9/21)
Axios: WHO: World "Off Track" In Goal To Reduce Deaths From Chronic Diseases
The World Health Organization warned in a report Wednesday that most countries are "far off track" in their efforts to reduce premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. (Chen, 9/21)
Health Policy Research
Research Roundup: Covid; Long Covid; Monkeypox; Antibiotics
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.
CIDRAP: No Antibodies In 1 In 3 Unvaccinated COVID-19 Survivors In Spain At 1 Year
One in three unvaccinated COVID-19 survivors in a Spanish cohort had no detectable SARS-CoV-2 antibodies nearly 1 year after infection, according to a prospective study published today in BMC Medicine. (9/16)
CIDRAP: Efficacy Of Monovalent COVID-19 Booster Began Waning By 3 Or 4 Months
South African researchers report waning monovalent (single-strain) COVID-19 vaccine booster effectiveness against the Omicron subvariants, with estimated efficacy falling to 50% against the BA.1/BA.2 and 47% against BA.4/BA.5 as early as 3 or 4 months after vaccination. (9/15)
CIDRAP: Study: 20% Of COVID-19 Survivors Report Symptoms 2 Years Later 
Two years after hospital release, nearly 20% of COVID-19 survivors in Wuhan, China, reported persistent, new-onset, or worsening symptoms, finds a study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open. (Van Beusekom, 9/16)
CIDRAP: Helmet-Style Oxygenation Didn't Lower Death Rate In Severe COVID-19
Noninvasive ventilation delivered through an oxygen helmet didn't significantly lower 28-day death rates among adult COVID-19 pneumonia patients with respiratory failure beyond that of masks, high-flow nasal cannulas, or other standard methods, but interpretation of the results was limited by an imprecise effect estimate, finds a randomized, controlled trial in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. (9/20)
CIDRAP: High Rates Of Fatigue, Brain Fog 9 Months After Nonsevere COVID-19
About 9 months after COVID-19 infection, 19% of nonhospitalized adult patients in a German cohort had fatigue, 26% had mild cognitive impairment ("brain fog"), and 1% had moderate cognitive dysfunction, according to a multicenter study. The study, published late last week in EClinicalMedicine, also showed that the incidence and risk factors for fatigue and cognitive impairment differed by age-group. (9/19)
CIDRAP: Diabetics' Excess Weight, Not Blood Sugar, Tied To COVID-19, Long COVID
Adults with diabetes and a high body mass index (BMI), not high blood sugar levels, are at greater risks of COVID-19 infection and long COVID, according to a meta-analysis involving more than 30,000 UK adults from nine cohort studies presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting taking place this week in Stockholm, Sweden. "Our early findings support the idea that obesity-related mechanisms may be responsible for the excess risks of COVID-19 associated with diabetes, rather than high blood sugar per se," said Anika Knuppel, PhD, a lead researcher on the study from the University College London, in an EASD news release. (9/19)
Also —
Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal: Monkeypox In Patient Immunized With ACAM2000 Smallpox Vaccine During 2022 Outbreak 
We report a patient in Washington, USA, who contracted monkeypox despite being successfully immunized against smallpox with the ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine 8 years earlier. We pose major questions regarding the efficacy of ACAM2000 vaccine amidst ongoing shortages of the JYNNEOS 2-dose monkeypox vaccine. (Turner et al, November issue)
CIDRAP: Unneeded Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics May Harm Pneumonia Patients
An analysis of data on patients hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) found that extended-spectrum antibiotic therapy was associated with increased mortality compared with standard antibiotic therapy, Japanese researchers reported yesterday in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases. (9/16)
CIDRAP: Trial: Multi-Dose Antibiotic Preventive Not Needed For Breast Reconstruction
A randomized clinical trial conducted in Sweden found that multiple-dose intravenous antibiotic prophylaxis is not superior to a single-dose regimen for preventing postoperative infection following implant-based breast reconstruction and comes with a higher risk of adverse events, researchers reported today in JAMA Network Open. (9/16)
Editorials And Opinions
Viewpoints: The Formula Shortage Isn't Over; Male Lawmakers Aren't Doing Their Jobs As Fathers
Editorial writers discuss the baby formula shortage, abortion, and more.
The Washington Post: The Ongoing Baby Formula Shortage Is A Reminder Of A Disturbing Truth In America
Remember the baby formula crisis? Public attention has largely moved on, but the U.S. supply shortage isn’t over — and the scarcity continues to distress parents and doctors struggling to feed vulnerable infants. (Alyssa Rosenberg, 9/21)
Los Angeles Times: Fathers Writing Abortion Laws Are Showing No Mercy For Daughters 
This week CNN confirmed what the optics have long suggested: Male lawmakers, many of them fathers, are most eager to punish women for having an abortion.One state representative in Texas, Bryan Slaton, introduced a bill in 2021 that would have made getting an abortion punishable by death, saying in part that “it is time for Texas to protect the natural right to life.” (LZ Granderson, 9/22)
The Star Tribune: Biden's COVID Insincerity
President Joe Biden finally dared to say it on Sunday, declaring in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" that the "pandemic is over." Various public-health eminences are saying he's wrong, but his comments recognize the reality of the disease at this stage and the public mood. The trouble is that his administration still hasn't lifted its official finding of a COVID public-health emergency. (9/21)
The CT Mirror: Monkeypox Stigma Hurts Us All
Monkeypox has been in the news a lot, and it’s being reported on as a “gay disease.” Calling it this is not only inaccurate, but dangerous to folks both in and outside of the gay community. (Kimberly Adamski, 9/22)
Chicago Tribune: Investing In Black-Led Community Groups Critical To Fighting HIV
In the face of innovations and advancements to better test, treat and prevent HIV, systemic racism continues to prevent Black-led community-based organizations, or CBOs, from accessing the funding and tools required to reach undersupported communities in areas of highest need. (Sista Yaa Simpson, 9/21)
Stat: What NASA Can Teach Public Health About Regaining Public Trust
The amazing images of the Cartwheel Galaxy captured by the James Webb Space Telescope this summer, and before them the spectacular images from the Hubble telescope, have amazed and inspired many people worldwide, who now look to NASA as a trusted federal agency. It hasn’t always enjoyed such strong support. (Judy Monroe, 9/22)
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