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Meet the new leaders of the Senate health panel: Bernie and Cassidy


Good morning, and TGIF, everyone.

Right this moment’s version: The World Well being Group is negotiating a draft pandemic treaty, which our colleague Adam Taylor obtained. Epilepsy medication are on the rise in nursing houses. However first … 

The Senate well being committee might be getting new management: the Medicare-for-all man and a conservative wonk

The Senate’s high well being panel is getting into a brand new period of management.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Invoice Cassidy (R-La.) are prone to take the reins, with each lawmakers saying yesterday their intentions to pursue high spots on the Senate HELP Committee subsequent yr. Although not but official, it’s anticipated that each will assume the posts on the panel with jurisdiction over the nation’s public well being businesses, the Meals and Drug Administration and different facets of federal well being coverage. 

The pairing avoids the unpredictability and probably explosive clashes of a committee led by Sanders and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), which was a definite risk earlier this week. Paul, a fierce critic of the Biden administration’s pandemic response, announced yesterday that he was opting to be the highest Republican on the Senate’s chief oversight panel as a substitute.

The committee could have a extra average rating member in Cassidy, a gastroenterologist who voted to question Trump after Jan. 6 and is understood for being a well being coverage wonk. With Sanders, the committee might be led by a firebrand whose rise — notably with the 2016 presidential election — has led to the social gathering’s embrace of extra liberal well being insurance policies. 

Sanders and Cassidy don’t have a prolonged historical past of working collectively, making it tough to pinpoint the place they are going to wind up discovering frequent floor. However doing so might be crucial to getting something carried out in a break up Congress and a razor-thin Democratic majority within the Senate.

Sanders has lengthy championed a far-reaching proposal to remodel Medicare right into a single-payer system, granting the federal authorities sweeping energy to barter the price of drug costs. If he helms the well being committee, common protection and reducing the price of medicines could be high priorities for him, in line with spokesman Mike Casca.

Medicare-for-all and drug negotiation are each technically beneath the purview of the Senate Finance Committee, however main the well being committee would nonetheless give Sanders a high-profile platform to advertise each insurance policies. 

He would even have the facility to pursue laws broadly authorizing the importation of medication from different nations — a coverage he tried to push via the HELP Committee earlier this yr to no avail. Sanders is understood for his penchant for railing towards pharmaceutical corporations, whether or not throughout committee hearings or on the Senate ground. 

  • “He’ll go after [the drug companies] at each flip, and so they solely have a pair mates left within the caucus any extra so it’s going to be robust,” mentioned one Democratic pharmaceutical lobbyist, who spoke on the situation of anonymity with a purpose to be candid.

Some individuals on and off the Hill privately puzzled whether or not Sanders would have the ability to construct consensus amongst Republicans and throughout the Democratic caucus. However his defenders contend he’s a savvy politician who is aware of when to attempt to push the bounds, and when to come back to the desk, noting that he voted for Democrats’ financial bundle over the summer season though it was far smaller in scope than he needed. 

  • “I believe there’s a caricature on the market of Bernie Sanders that doesn’t be aware of the truth that the man is a politician who has been doing this for a very very long time,” mentioned Alex Lawson, the chief director of left-leaning advocacy group Social Safety Works. “He is aware of easy methods to work along with his colleagues.”

The Kaiser Household Basis’s Larry Levitt:

Cassidy as the highest Republican on the well being committee will probably be a lot totally different than Paul within the submit. One Senate GOP aide mentioned they believed the Louisiana senator — who has additionally mentioned he’ll determine this week whether he’ll run for governor — could be extra targeted on legislating moderately than probing the pandemic. 

However Cassidy would nonetheless be focused on scrutinizing facets of the Biden administration’s well being insurance policies, though his powers to take action might be restricted within the minority. 

Particularly, Cassidy instructed The Well being 202 that he desires to conduct oversight into how the federal authorities is implementing a legislation to cease shock medical payments. He was instrumental in pushing a extra doctor-friendly model of the laws and argued the administration hasn’t carried out the legislation as Congress supposed. 

In the meantime, Cassidy has been open to nontraditional methods of paying for medication. The senator was supportive of Louisiana’s efforts beneath a Democratic governor to chart a brand new means of paying for expensive hepatitis C treatments, the place the state would pay a flat charge and get limitless provide of the drug. 

However not all Cassidy’s efforts have been bipartisan. In 2017, he mounted a last-ditch marketing campaign to salvage the GOP’s failed bid to repeal and substitute Obamacare. However the laws didn’t have the votes, prompting Sanders to declare a “main victory” for the American individuals in stopping “one other disastrous Republican proposal.”

WHO members to contemplate a pandemic pact

Members of the World Well being Group will start negotiating the phrases of a pandemic treaty in Geneva subsequent month in a bid to organize international states for future well being emergencies. 

The draft treaty, shared with The Well being 202 by our colleague Adam Taylor, is being championed by WHO Director Common Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who mentioned such a deal could be a “game changer” for making certain scientific and political cooperation throughout borders each earlier than and through an outbreak. 

The positive print: The draft accord consists of measures to extend transparency round public funding for the event of vaccines and coverings, in addition to provisions to make sure that ensuing merchandise are distributed equitably. It might additionally encourage nations to develop mechanisms to switch related “expertise and know-how” to potential producers throughout the globe, with a deal with creating nations. 

If agreed to by WHO members, the treaty may have huge implications for the pharmaceutical trade. The draft proposes suggestions to make it obligatory for corporations that produce pandemic merchandise like vaccines to reveal costs and phrases of any public procurements contracts in instances of worldwide well being emergencies. 

It stays to be seen what would occur if nations that signal the treaty neglect to observe its guidelines and if corporations fail to conform. The settlement is not expected to be adopted earlier than 2024, Politico notes.

FDA approves first Sort 1 diabetes prevention drug

The Meals and Drug Administration approved the nation’s first drug that may delay the onset of Sort 1 diabetes.

Federal regulators greenlit an injection referred to as TZield for adults and in kids aged 8 years and older who at the moment have stage 2 kind 1 diabetes. In scientific trials, the remedy delayed the development of kind 1 diabetes in sufferers by a median of about two years.

JDRF, a nonprofit funder of Sort 1 diabetes analysis:

Epilepsy medication are on the rise in nursing houses

Authorities insurance policies geared toward curbing extreme use of highly effective psychiatric medication for dementia sufferers in nursing houses are in all probability having an unintended side effect: larger use of anti-seizure drugs, our colleague Christopher Rowland writes. 

A report out yesterday from the Workplace of Inspector Common for the Division of Well being and Human Companies discovered that, regardless of elevated federal oversight, the general use of psychotropic medication in nursing houses hasn’t decreased. But, physicians have shifted towards utilizing anticonvulsant drugs to sedate dementia sufferers as a substitute of antipsychotics. 

It additionally discovered that nursing houses with fewer hours labored by a registered nurse, and people with extra low-income residents, used measurably larger proportions of all classes of medication that work within the mind, together with antidepressants.

The nursing house trade, represented by the American Well being Care Affiliation/Nationwide Heart for Assisted Residing, contends that the drugs are sometimes prescribed by health-care suppliers not affiliated with the services. 

Some state abortion bans dont’ embrace exemptions for psychological well being

Psychological well being advocates are decrying abortion bans in several states that permit exemptions for life-threatening bodily circumstances however not for psychological well being crises, the Related Press studies.

The small print: Not less than eight states which have banned abortions embrace exemptions to avoid wasting the lifetime of the pregnant lady however not for psychological well being. Legal guidelines in Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia specify that medical emergencies don’t embrace suicide threats. In the meantime, Florida’s exemption consists of life-threatening sicknesses “apart from a psychological situation.” Some antiabortion advocates argue that the legal guidelines are supposed to maintain sufferers from feigning psychological sickness to finish their pregnancies. 

Postpartum despair is well-recognized, but evidence suggests despair throughout being pregnant could also be much more frequent. Psychological well being circumstances together with suicide and substance use grew to become the main underlying explanation for pregnancy-related deaths from 2017 to 2019, per the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention

The Nationwide Proper to Life Committee, an antiabortion group that has lobbied for such measures, defended the restrictions. “A mom dealing with severe psychological well being points ought to obtain counseling and psychological well being care,” mentioned spokeswoman Laura Echevarria. “Having an abortion is not going to mitigate psychological well being points.” 

In the meantime, in Oklahoma …

The Justice Division introduced yesterday that it opened a civil rights investigation into Oklahoma’s mental health system.

The probe will study whether or not the state discriminates towards individuals with psychological sickness by failing to supply community-based psychological well being companies to these in Oklahoma County, which can result in pointless admissions to psychiatric services and police contact.

  • A federal choose will decide today whether or not Elizabeth Holmes, founding father of the disgraced blood-testing start-up Theranos Inc., ought to serve jail time for duping buyers about her firm’s expertise and monetary well being, the Wall Road Journal studies.
  • The FDA sent warning letters to seven corporations for allegedly illegally promoting dietary dietary supplements that declare to treatment, deal with or forestall heart problems, the company introduced yesterday.
  • New York Metropolis, as soon as a hotspot within the nation’s document monkeypox outbreak, will finish its mobile vaccination program as new infections proceed to say no. The native authorities has additionally shuttered mass vaccination websites and quietly ended the town’s monkeypox state of emergency, New York Occasions studies.

In rural America, the crisis of disappearing reproductive care steals lives (By Akilah Johnson l The Washington Post)

Covid almost broke this hospital. It also might be what saves it. (By Joseph Goldstein | The New York Times)

How banks and private equity cash in when patients can’t pay their medical bills (By Noam N. Levey and Aneri Pattani | Kaiser Health News)

Thanks for studying! See y’all tomorrow.

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