Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility First Edition: April 30, 2021 | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors – Active Lifestyle Media

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Senior Living CommunitiesFirst Edition: April 30, 2021 | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors

First Edition: April 30, 2021 | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors


Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.

Addiction Treatment Providers In Pa. Face Little State Scrutiny Despite Harm To Clients 

When Ian Kalinowski was at work, his mom usually texted him. So when he saw her number show up as an incoming call around lunchtime one Tuesday, he figured it had to be important. Now, more than seven years later, he remembers her screams, the shock and the questions she asked over and over again. “Why are they saying this to me? Why are they lying to me?” Ian recalled his mom asking. “They’re telling me Adam’s dead. Why would they do this to me?” (Pattani and Mahon, 4/30)

Two Unmatched-Doctor Advocacy Groups Are Tied To Anti-Immigrant Organizations 

In their last year of medical school, fourth-year students get matched to a hospital where they will serve their residency. The annual rite of passage is called the National Resident Matching Program. To the students, it’s simply the Match. Except not every medical student is successful. While tens of thousands do land a residency slot every year, thousands others don’t. Those “unmatched” students are usually left scrambling to figure out their next steps, since newly graduated doctors who don’t complete a residency program cannot receive their license to practice medicine. (Knight, 4/30)

The Vulnerable Homebound Are Left Behind On Vaccination

It was April, more than three months into the vaccination campaign against covid-19, and Jim Freeman, 83, still had not gotten his first dose. Freeman had been eligible for months as part of the 75-and-older target group deemed most vulnerable to death and serious illness in the pandemic. But he could not leave his home to make the journey to one of the mass-vaccination sites in San Mateo County. Freeman, who has Parkinson’s disease, has extremely limited mobility and no longer can walk. (Gold, 4/30)

Despite All The Talk, Covid Vaccination Does Not Infect People With Shingles 

Posts are showing up all over social media tying covid-19 vaccinations to shingles and other painful skin disorders. The source of one such post was Alex Berenson, an author and vaccine critic whose posts are sometimes cited for misinformation. Berenson posted — first on Twitter, which then found its way to Facebook — a photo of a man covered in a severe rash. The man, according to the post, blamed the skin outbreak on a covid vaccination he had weeks earlier. The post also included unsubstantiated information purported to be from the man’s doctors, indicating a likely diagnosis of a type of rash usually triggered by medications or infections, such as herpes simplex. It led Berenson to draw the conclusion that “for #Covid vaccines, shingles and even more dangerous and painful skin conditions may be the new thrombocytopenia.” That is a reference to a low blood platelet condition reported among some people who experienced blood clots after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. (Appleby, 4/30)

KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: 100 Days Of Health Policy

It’s been a busy 100 days for the Biden administration on health policy. The promise Joe Biden made as president-elect to get 100 million covid vaccinations in arms was doubled, reopened to those without insurance, and steps were taken to undo a raft of health policies implemented by President Donald Trump. The covid relief bill passed by Congress in March also boosted subsidies for those who buy their own coverage and provided incentives for the 12 states that have yet to expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA. (4/29)

The Washington Post:
At The 100-Day Mark, Has Biden Kept His Campaign Promises? 

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden’s advisers often tracked the promises made in his speeches as a way to formulate their early agenda. As he entered office, they viewed the coronavirus as the issue on which his presidency would be most judged, which has guided many of their early decisions and promises — around vaccinations, school reopenings and mask mandates. But President Biden also has a long list of other promises, including climate change, gun control, tax policy and ending foreign wars. Critics say that some of his early estimates appear to have been set low, so he can over-deliver on key issues early in his presidency. Here’s a look at which promises Biden has met, which he has started to address and which he has altered or abandoned. (Santamarina, Viser and Still, 4/27)

The Washington Post:
Biden Has Delivered Vaccines. Now Comes The Hard Part. 

President Biden offered voters a singular promise when he campaigned for the White House: He would do a better job on the coronavirus pandemic than Donald Trump. Accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in August, he pledged that “the first step I will take will be to get control of the virus that’s ruined so many lives.” Declaring victory three months later, he said, “I will spare no effort — or commitment — to turn this pandemic around.” Now, 100 days into his presidency, Biden can point to a host of figures showing that he has kept his promise, from plunging death rates to soaring vaccination numbers. (Linskey, 4/27)

Why Biden’s Next 100 Days Are Pivotal For The Covid Fight 

President Joe Biden’s first 100 days saw real gains against the pandemic, but the next 100 days — and the 100 days after that — will determine how well Covid-19 is contained. And containment, not eradication, is the most realistic goal: Public health experts say the coronavirus is here for the long haul. Now, the challenge for Biden, his response team and state health officials will be managing the rolling series of outbreaks possibly driven by more dangerous virus variants, while avoiding the wishful thinking of the Trump administration, which downplayed the disease’s lethality. (Kenen and Goldberg, 4/30)

The Washington Post:
How Have Biden’s Policies Helped American Women? 

On Wednesday night, for the first time ever, two women sat behind the president of the United States as he addressed Congress. President Biden was joined by Vice President Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. To many, the image was symbolic of vision the president outlined in his “agenda for women,” in which he pledged to bring American women closer to equality. At the outset of Biden’s term, The Lily asked leading advocates and experts on child care, equal pay, health equity, LGBTQ rights and gender violence to weigh in on what we could expect from the Biden administration. (Branigin, 4/29)

The Washington Post:
Paid Leave Is Central To Biden’s American Families Plan 

Every two years, like clockwork, federal lawmakers have tried to pass legislation mandating paid family leave. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced their family leave bill in 2013 — and again in 2015, 2017 and 2019.In 2021, the United States remains the only industrialized country in the world where parents are not guaranteed paid leave. (Kitchener, 4/28)

Biden’s Agenda: What Can Pass And What Faces Steep Odds

President Joe Biden laid out a long list of policy priorities in his speech to Congress — and some are more politically plausible than others. The two parties are working together in some areas, including on changes to policing and confronting the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans. But Republicans are likely to block other Democratic initiatives on immigration and voting rights. On some of Biden’s top priorities, Democrats may choose to find ways to cut out Republicans entirely. The president told lawmakers that “doing nothing is not an option” when it comes to his two massive infrastructure proposals, which would cost $4.1 trillion. (Jalonick, 4/30)

Roll Call:
Top 3 Health Care Takeaways From Biden’s Address 

President Joe Biden delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. With a sparse, distanced audience in the House chamber, the COVID-19 pandemic was evident to anyone watching. While Biden pitched his proposed economic and families package to lawmakers and the public, he also made a few health care pushes during his address. (McKinless and McIntire, 4/29)

The Washington Post:
Biden’s Stance On Abortion Rights Triggers U.S. Catholic Bishops Spring Debate On Communion Rights

Having a U.S. president who attends Mass week after week and talks about his faith is powerful to millions of American Catholics. But to millions of others, a Catholic U.S. president enacting one policy after another in favor of abortion access is a source of shame. This conflict is now headed directly at the U.S. church’s leadership group, which plans a vote about it at its spring conference. Catholic leaders, like their massive flock, are deeply divided about Biden, only the second U.S. president to come from the country’s largest faith group. Since his election, the increasingly loud right wing of the church has made clear that Biden cannot continue to expand abortion rights and call himself Catholic and go unchallenged. (Boorstein, 4/29)

FDA Says It Will Ban All Menthol Cigarettes And Flavored Cigars 

The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will ban all menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The agency has maintained for nearly a decade that menthol cigarettes, which produce a milder smoke than traditional cigarettes, have played an outsized role in hooking young people on smoking. The FDA first explicitly promised a menthol ban in 2018, but backed off amid intense pushback from the tobacco industry and its allies. (Florko, 4/29)

The New York Times:
FDA Announces Plan To Ban Menthol Cigarettes And Flavored Cigars

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday announced its long-awaited plan to ban the last flavor still allowed in cigarettes — menthol — and also said it would ban all flavors of mass-produced cigars, which are popular among youths. The ban would apply only to sales, manufacturing and imports — not personal possession. “Together, these actions represent powerful, science-based approaches that will have an extraordinary public health impact,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, the F.D.A.’s acting commissioner, said in a statement on the agency’s website. “We believe these actions will launch us on a trajectory toward ending tobacco-related disease and death in the U.S.” (Kaplan, 4/29)

Biden Science Pick Lander Fends Off Controversy At Confirmation Hearing

Eric Lander, President Biden’s nominee to lead the White House’s science policy office, easily weathered a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday that started with an examination of his past controversies but ended in a more philosophical discussion of the future of American research. The renowned genetics researcher pledged that if confirmed, he would leverage U.S. science to drive a new wave of disease cures. The Biden administration, he said, would also work to address climate change, increase access to STEM careers for women and people of color, and address an array of other issues ranging from cybersecurity to broadband access. (Facher, 4/29)

AbbVie CEO To Testify Before Congress About Drug Pricing Tactics

As part of its probe into pharmaceutical industry pricing tactics, a Congressional committee next month plans to hold a hearing and grill AbbVie (ABBV) chief executive officer Richard Gonzalez, whose company at one point faced a subpoena for refusing to cooperate with the investigation. The move comes after the House Committee on Oversight and Reform last fall released a series of reports detailing how different drug makers engaged in “anticompetitive conduct” to maintain high prices and market share for expensive medicines. The effort reflects concern over rising prescription drug prices and Congressional interest in any illegal strategies companies use to thwart competition. (Silverman, 4/29)

The Washington Post:
Congressional Democrats Push Medicare Expansion, Defying White House 

Congressional Democrats are planning to pursue a massive expansion of Medicare as part of President Biden’s new $1.8 trillion economic relief package, defying the White House after it opted against including a major health overhaul as part of its plan. The early pledges from some party lawmakers, led by prominent members of its liberal wing, threaten to create even more political tension around a package that is already facing no shortage of it. The expansion push comes as Biden on Wednesday stressed in his first address to Congress that he is still committed to making health care more affordable. (Romm and Min Kim, 4/29)

Top Senate Democrat Heads Back To Drawing Board On Drug Pricing

A powerful Democratic committee chair is starting to work on a new drug pricing package, rather than advancing an existing bill — an onerous effort, but one that may be Democrats’ best hope for substantive action this Congress. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a longtime advocate of drug pricing reform, said he will take on the unenviable task of working to build a drug pricing package that can get unanimous support among his Democratic colleagues, rather than pushing ahead with a more aggressive House proposal or a more modest, bipartisan package he painstakingly crafted over years. (Cohrs, 4/30)

Congress: Stop Dialysis Providers From Gaming Reimbursement 

The Covid-19 relief bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in March temporarily expanded the subsidies available to people who buy their health insurance through marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act, and the administration has proposed to make those subsidies permanent as part of the American Families Plan. To help pay for that effort, Congress should end a game that big dialysis companies play with insurance to pad their profits at federal expense. (Erin E. Trish, Eugene Lin and Matthew Fiedler, 4/29)

US Investigating Possible Mysterious Directed Energy Attack Near White House 

Federal agencies are investigating at least two possible incidents on US soil, including one near the White House in November of last year, that appear similar to mysterious, invisible attacks that have led to debilitating symptoms for dozens of US personnel abroad. Multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN that while the Pentagon and other agencies probing the matter have reached no clear conclusions on what happened, the fact that such an attack might have taken place so close to the White House is particularly alarming. (Williams and Herb, 4/29)

The Wall Street Journal:
AstraZeneca Struggles With Data Needed For Covid-19 Vaccine’s Approval 

AstraZeneca executives have struggled to pull together the full data necessary to apply for U.S. approval of its Covid-19 shot, according to people familiar with the matter, further delaying its efforts to secure the Food and Drug Administration’s go-ahead. The company said last month that it would apply for what is known as emergency use authorization for its vaccine by mid-April. It has recently told U.S. officials it might need until mid-May to finish its application for an FDA review, according to one of these people. (Strasburg and Burton, 4/29)

The New York Times:
AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 Vaccine Has Generated $275 Million In Sales So Far This Year. 

The Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford brought in $275 million in sales from about 68 million doses delivered in the first three months of this year, AstraZeneca reported on Friday. AstraZeneca disclosed the figure, most of which came from sales in Europe, as it reported its first-quarter financial results. It offers the clearest view to date of how much money is being brought in by one of the leading Covid vaccines. (Robbins, 4/30)

The Wall Street Journal:
AstraZeneca Lost Money On Its Covid-19 Vaccine 

AstraZeneca said sales of its Covid-19 vaccine—which it has promised to sell initially without profit—haven’t kept up with its costs, resulting in a hit to earnings and a warning the vaccine effort could continue to affect margins. The drug giant’s booked $275 million in revenue in the first three months of the year from sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford. The company delivered 68 million doses globally during the first quarter, far short of targets. (Strasburg and Butini, 4/30)

The New York Times:
Shake-Up At Covid Vaccine Manufacturer That Tossed Millions Of Doses 

Executives of Emergent BioSolutions, the Covid-19 vaccine manufacturer that was forced to discard up to 15 million doses because of possible contamination, reported a shake-up in leadership on Thursday and offered the most fulsome defense yet of the company’s performance. While announcing the high-level personnel changes and taking responsibility for the ruined doses, executives nonetheless forecast record revenues this year of nearly $2 billion. (Stolberg and Hamby, 4/29)

The Wall Street Journal:
30% Of Americans Fully Vaccinated 

Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose slightly, while vaccination efforts made further gains, with 30% of the country’s population now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.The U.S. reported more than 57,000 new cases for Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published early Friday. The data may update later. Thursday’s figure was up from Wednesday’s total of 55,125, but marked the sixth consecutive day of new cases below the 60,000 mark. Not all states report data on new cases daily. (Hall, 4/30)

The Washington Post:
People Seeking Coronavirus Vaccine Appear Eager To Receive Johnson & Johnson 

A blue card sat on the windshield of Josh Woolvin’s black Hyundai Tucson on Tuesday, a spot of color in the sunshine at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It signaled to nurses at this drive-by immunization clinic that Woolvin and his mother, Debbie Shipp, wanted Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine, not their other choice, Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-shot regimen. Both selected Johnson & Johnson for its one-and-done convenience, a preference that outweighed their concerns about the extremely rare blood clots that prompted a 10-day pause in use of the vaccine.“I’d rather deal with the side effects than die” of covid-19, Woolvin said. (Molloy, Bernstein, Sellers and Anderson, 4/29)

100 US Colleges And Universities Are Now Requiring Students To Get Covid-19 Vaccinations 

College students hesitant to receive a Covid-19 vaccination may need to rethink their decision. As most colleges in the US inch toward the end of the spring semester, a new procedure is taking shape for their return. More than 100 US colleges and universities have said they will require all their students to get vaccinated against Covid-19 before they return to campus for the fall semester, according to a CNN tally. (Elamroussi, 4/29)

Great Falls Tribune:
‘Anti-Vaxx’ Bill Would Mean No Visitors, All Masks To Healthcare Facilities In Montana

The Montana medical community has some sobering messages for residents of the Treasure State: If you thought mask mandates were hard, wait until House Bill 702 becomes law. Expecting fathers: Don’t expect to be there at the birth of your child. For those wanting to see a close family member injured in a car accident: Better wait outside. If you want to see grandpa or grandma in an assisted living facility: Try again in a couple years. (Ehrlick, 4/27)

Houston Chronicle:
Half Of Texas Adults Have Now Had At Least One Shot Of The COVID Vaccine

Half of Texans 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, inching the state closer to herd immunity against the coronavirus. A Houston Chronicle analysis of federal data shows 10.9 million people in Texas who are 18 and older have been injected with at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The 50 percent milestone comes four months after the Texas Department of State Health Services opened vaccine eligibility to the phase 1B group, or those 65 and older or with chronic health conditions. (Wu and Rubio, 4/29)

The New York Times:
With New C.D.C Mask Rules, Uncertainty On How To Proceed 

After the trauma of the last year, the quarantined are emerging into sunlight, and beginning to navigate travel, classrooms and restaurants. And they are discovering that when it comes to returning to the old ways, many feel out of sorts. Do they shake hands? Hug? With or without a mask? (Richtel, 4/29)

The Washington Post:
Maryland Masking Mandate: Counties Focus On New Rules 

A day after Gov. Larry Hogan (R) repealed Maryland’s universal outdoor masking order, some of the state’s biggest jurisdictions were grappling Thursday with what to do. The repeal means many large gatherings may happen without face coverings: outdoor weddings, big neighborhood cookouts, festivals and parades — events at which federal health officials suggest everyone should still be masked. (Cox and Tan, 4/29)

USA Today:
COVID: Mayor Bill De Blasio Says New York City Reopens July 1

New York City, its bars, restaurants and tourist sites will have a “full reopening” on July 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “We are ready to bring New York City back fully on July 1st, all systems go, because you’ve earned it,” de Blasio said. He said that Broadway shows might take more time because they had been aiming for a September return, but that “some of the smaller, more intimate shows, we might be looking more like July, August, and we’ll move heaven and earth to help them get that done.” (Bacon, Ortiz and Aspegren, 4/29)

Disneyland Opening Highlights California’s COVID Turnaround

Four months ago, America’s most populous state was struggling to combat a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations that packed patients into outdoor tents and killed hundreds of people each day. On Friday, Disneyland, California’s world-famous theme park, will reopen to visitors after an unprecedented 13-month closure in what tourism officials hope is a sign of the state’s rebound from the pandemic. For now, the park is allowing only in-state visitors and operating at limited capacity. (Taxin, 4/30)

Covid Surge In Oregon Shows U.S. Fight Against Pandemic Not Over

A Covid-19 surge in Oregon is sweeping through a partially vaccinated population, with steep rises in case rates among the young — an indication that the U.S. may struggle with distinct outbreaks for months to come. The state reported 888 confirmed and presumed cases on Tuesday and a 6.5% test positivity rate, bringing the seven-day average to 832, according to the Oregon Health Authority. (Querolo and Kharif, 4/29)

Michigan Governor Ties Eased Restrictions To Vaccine Rate

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday announced a plan to tie the lifting of coronavirus restrictions to Michigan’s vaccination rate, setting specific benchmarks that must be reached to return to normal. As more people get shots, she said, the state will allow office work, relax and ultimately end indoor capacity limits, and lift a health order designed to curb COVID-19. About half of residents ages 16 and older have received at least one dose. (Eggert, 4/30)

CDC: 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a COVID-19 super-spreader event

The August 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota spread COVID-19 across the country, resulting in at least 649 infections—including transmission to household and workplace contacts—over the next 6 weeks, according to a study today in Clinical Infectious Diseases. In the study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed data and phone interview results from 39 state, county, and city health departments involving COVID-19 patients who had either traveled to Meade County in August 2020 or attended the rally from Aug 7 to 16. (4/29)

Severe Diabetes Linked To Worse COVID-19 Outcomes

A study that included 17,687 people with diabetes and confirmed COVID-19 identified key diabetic risk factors that are linked to severe COVID-19 outcomes, including high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels and treatment with insulin. The study was published yesterday in Diabetologia. The meta-analysis is based on 22 studies and was conducted by researchers at the German Diabetes Center (Deutsches Diabetes-Zentrum, or DDZ). As in the general population, increasing age and being male was associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes: Men with diabetes were 28% more likely to die from COVID-19 than diabetic women were, and people with diabetes aged over 65 with diabetes were more than three times more likely to die than younger patients were. (4/29)

Obesity Studies Highlight Severe COVID Outcomes, Even In Young Adults

Two new, large studies from England and Mexico provide new details on obesity as a risk factor for poor COVID-19–related outcomes, including death, with the UK study noting the highest hospitalization rate in young adults. … It is the largest study to date assessing body weight and COVID outcomes. (Van Beusekom, 4/29)

WHO Should Look Beyond Animals On Covid Origin, Scientists Say

The World Health Organization should convene another investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that looks beyond animal sources, a group of scientists said in an open letter. The signatories proposed specific steps on what any new probe should take into account. Suggestions include ensuring that a team can undertake studies without the “unnecessary presence” of government officials of the host country, removing any veto powers in the member-selection process and a mandate for broad access to data, records and samples. (Gretler, 4/30)

Global Drug Spending Could Hit $1.6 Trillion By 2025 

Global spending on medicines is forecast to grow between 3% and 6% annually and reach roughly $1.6 trillion in sales by 2025 — and this does not include another $157 billion that is expected to be spent on Covid-19 vaccines largely over the next couple of years, according to a new report. Almost all countries are expected to see a slowdown in their rate of annual spending through 2025 compared with the previous five-year period. Spending by upper-middle or high-income countries is expected to rise 2% to 5% through 2025, which is similar to what was seen over the past five years. Spending by China, however, is forecast to increase by 6.2%. (Silverman, 4/29)

GoodRx Helps People Afford Drugs. But Is It Improving Health Care Or Profiting Off A Broken System? 

Brad White has taken esomeprazole, the generic version of Nexium, to treat his acid reflux, for years. A retired school administrator living in Southlake, Texas, White has insurance, and so when he drove through his local CVS to pick up the prescription earlier this year, he was shocked when the clerk told him he owed $490 for a three-month supply. He wasn’t quite sure what he had paid before—he’d been receiving the prescription by mail and had set up automated payments—and he knew the pills would cost him more until he met his $3,000 deductible. But paying nearly $500 for a few months of a generic drug just struck him as outrageous. He drove off without his prescription, to “regroup.” (Fry, 4/29)

Encouraging Results For Alzheimer’s Drug Repurposed For Fragile X Syndrome

An experimental drug intended for Alzheimer’s patients seems to improve both language and learning in adults with Fragile X syndrome. The drug, called BPN14770, increased cognitive scores by about 10% in 30 adult males after 12 weeks, a team reports in the journal Nature Medicine. That is enough to change the lives of many people with Fragile X, says Mark Gurney, CEO of Tetra Therapeutics, developer of the medicine.” People with Fragile X with an IQ of 40 are typically living with their parents or in an institutional setting,” Gurney says. “With an IQ of 50, in some cases they’re able to ride the bus, they’re able to hold a job with some assistance and they’re able to function better in their community.” (Hamilton, 4/30)

Fox News:
Dental Opioid Prescriptions Ups Overdose Risk For Patients, Families: Study

A large-scale study analyzing national claims data linked dental opioid prescriptions with an increased risk for an overdose among patients and their family members. Researchers affiliated with the University of Michigan published findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Thursday, drawing from data on over 8.5 million dental procedures from 2011-2018 among privately and publicly insured patients aged 13 to 64. The most common procedures addressed acute dental pain, tooth extraction and root canals. (Rivas, 4/29)

CVS Offers Mental Health Counseling In Stores

So far, CVS’ pilot program, which launched in January, operates in a dozen stores in Houston, Philadelphia and Tampa, Fla., with plans to expand to 34 this year. It’s targeting diverse communities where mental health care isn’t readily available, such as Jenkintown, Pa., just north of Philadelphia where Miller’s barber shop is located. The program is an extension of CVS’ HealthHUBs, which exist in 650 of its nearly 10,000 stores, offering urgent care and wellness products, such as sleep apnea machines. The idea is to create a place where consumers can get eye exams, diabetes screenings and vaccinations as well as mental health treatment, where they already buy their prescriptions. (Noguchi, 4/29)

5 Startups Racing To Shake Up The Electronic Health Record Industry

The road to shake up the health record industry is littered with failures. But a new group of startups are giving it another go — and there are reasons to believe companies may find success where others fell short. Chief among them is the recent introduction of a federal rule that bars data blocking and, for the first time, lets patients access their health information using apps. (Brodwin, 4/29)

Modern Healthcare:
Aetna Ducks California Doctor Group’s Unfair Competition Suit

Aetna’s threatening to fire doctors who referred patients to out-of-network facilities does not violate California’s unfair competition law, as the industry group advocating on its physicians’ behalf was not directly harmed by the insurer’s policy, an appellate court ruled on Wednesday. The 2nd Appellate District’s ruling comes after a nine-year court battle between state physicians and the Hartford, Conn.-based insurer. (Tepper, 4/29)

Modern Healthcare:
One-Third Of Participating Hospitals Score An ‘A’ In Leapfrog’s New Hospital Safety Scores

St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho, hasn’t always had the best Leapfrog Group safety grades. The 213-bed acute care hospital up until 2016 pulled in B’s, and in one particularly bad year, D’s. Hospital leadership took a hard look at each measure, and they went to work. Five years in a row, they’ve received an “A.” “You get ranked by Leapfrog, Healthgrades, IBM Watson, CMS, all these external organizations, and you need to understand why you score the way you do,” said Dr. Bart Hill, vice president and chief quality officer of St. Luke’s Health System. (Gillespie, 4/29)

Modern Healthcare:
CMS Extends Joint Replacement Model For Three Years

CMS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation on Thursday signed off on a three-year extension of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model. It will now last through the end of 2024. The final rule changes the definition of an episode to include outpatient hip and knee replacements, modifies how the agency calculates target prices and reduces the number of reconciliation periods from two to one. It also makes changes to beneficiary notice requirements, gainsharing caps and the appeals process. Regulators expect the extension to save the Medicare program about $217 million over three years. (Brady, 4/29)

The New York Times:
Diet And Exercise During Pregnancy Impacts Child’s Health, Study Says

The lifestyles of soon-to-be mothers and fathers could shape the health of their unborn offspring in lasting ways, according to a surprising new animal study of exercise, diet, genetics and parenthood. The study found that rodent parents-to-be that fatten on a greasy diet before mating produce offspring with sky-high later risks for metabolic problems. But if the mothers stay active during their pregnancies, those risks disappear. (Reynolds, 4/28)

USA Today:
Night Modes For Smartphones Don’t Help You Sleep Better, Says Study

Nighttime modes added to smartphones that use warmer colors to make displays easier to view don’t appear to help us fall asleep faster, new research suggests. According to a study from Brigham Young University published in the journal Sleep Health, researchers found no difference between users with nighttime features turned on and those who didn’t use it at all. The study is focused on the iOS feature Night Shift, introduced to iPhones in 2016. When turned on, it replaces bluer lights from your smartphone display with warmer colors at night, and then returns to normal during the day. The goal is to make the display easier on your eyes and decrease the use of blue light, which experts say can impact sleep. (Molina, 4/29)

Modern Healthcare:
CEO Stress Can Reduce Lifespan, Increase Aging, Study Shows

CEOs experiencing high stress from work and industry challenges may live 1.5 years less than their peers, according to a study. Beyond the lifespan effects, the National Bureau of Economic Research Database found that CEOs who likely bore the brunt of stress from the Great Recession added an estimated year to their apparent age. The study used experimental machine-learning to analyze more than 3,000 photos of CEOs at different points in their tenure. (Gellman, 4/29)

Modern Healthcare:
Survey: Businesses Want Government To Lower Healthcare Costs

More than four in five top executives at large employers said the government must take a greater role in providing health insurance and controlling costs during the next decade, according to a survey on Thursday from the Purchaser Business Group on Health and the Kaiser Family Foundation with support from the West Health Institute. A similar number said it would be better for their business and employees. It’s the latest sign that employers are growing increasingly desperate to rein in rising healthcare costs and spending. According to PBGH, annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance increased 55% from 2010 to 2020, reaching $21,342 in 2020. The average single employee deductible increased from $917 to $1,644 among workers with a deductible that period. (Brady, 4/29)

An HIV Crisis Raises The Question: Should Health Officials Be Activists?

Most local health officials don’t accept their jobs expecting to be roped into political activism. Amid Covid-19, though, politics became a central element of health experts’ job descriptions. In Washington, government researcher Anthony Fauci publicly feuded with former President Trump. In many cities and states, local health departments were forced to square off against governors who resisted coronavirus mitigation strategies like business closures or mask mandates. (Facher, 4/30)

The Boston Globe:
Thousands Of Homes In Massachusetts Still Have Lead Water Pipes, And Many Residents Don’t Know

For much of the past three years, they lived in fear of their water. After buying a home in Chelsea, Nathan Seavey and his wife learned their water pipes were lined with lead, and replacing them would cost thousands of dollars. Even though they had a newborn, they resigned themselves to live with it, filtering whatever they drank and relying on the city’s assurances that their water was safe. “My wife was terrified, and there were a lot of tears,” said Seavey, 39, whose wife recently gave birth to another son. “We had no idea when we bought, and it was really disappointing and frustrating to learn that there are still so many lead pipes.” (Abel, 4/29)

India Cases Up As Scientists Appeal To Modi To Release Data

Indian scientists appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to publicly release virus data that would allow them to save lives as coronavirus cases climbed again Friday, prompting the army to open its hospitals in a desperate bid to control a massive humanitarian crisis. With 386,452 new cases, India now has reported more than 18.7 million since the pandemic began, second only to the United States. The Health Ministry on Friday also reported 3,498 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 208,330. Experts believe both figures are an undercount, but it’s unclear by how much. (Sharma, 4/30)

Indian States Run Out Of COVID-19 Vaccines, Nationwide Inoculation Delayed 

Several Indian states have run out of COVID-19 vaccines a day before a planned widening of a nationwide inoculation drive, authorities said on Friday, as new infections in the crisis-hit country surged to another daily record. India reported 386,452 news cases in the past 24 hours, while deaths from COVID-19 jumped by 3,498 over the last 24 hours, according to health ministry data. However, medical experts believe actual COVID-19 numbers may be five to 10 times greater than the official tally. (Mehta and Monnappa, 4/30)

Explainer: What We Know About The Indian Variant As Coronavirus Sweeps South Asia 

The B.1.617 variant contains two key mutations to the outer “spike” portion of the virus that attaches to human cells, said senior Indian virologist Shahid Jameel. The World Health Organization (WHO) said the predominant lineage of B.1.617 was first identified in India last December, although an earlier version was spotted in October 2020. (4/29)

The New York Times:
After A Year Of Loss, South America Suffers Worst Covid-19 Death Tolls Yet 

In the capital of Colombia, Bogotá, the mayor is warning residents to brace for “the worst two weeks of our lives.” Uruguay, once lauded as a model for keeping the coronavirus under control, now has one of the highest death rates in the world, while the grim daily tallies of the dead have hit records in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Peru in recent days. (Turkewitz and Tag, 4/29)

Brazil COVID-19 Deaths Top 400,000 Amid Fears Of Worsening Crisis

Brazil surpassed 400,000 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, at the tail-end of the country’s deadliest month of the pandemic. At last count, 401,186 people had died in Brazil, based on data tracked by Johns Hopkins University, a toll only the U.S. has topped. More Brazilians have died from the virus in the first four months of this year than in all of 2020, with the death toll having jumped from 300,000 to 400,000 in the past five weeks alone. The daily average of deaths has dipped recently, from over 3,000 two weeks ago to an average of less than 2,400 deaths, according to Brazil’s health ministry. (Bowman and Reeves, 4/29)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.


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