Health Policy Happenings, 10.15.21

Popping in to say happy Friday and share a bit about what’s happening in the health policy world. Congress is still in a holding pattern when it comes to the reconciliation bill and there’s a lot of bickering about what health priorities will ultimately be included. I’m grateful to the reporters following the back and forth, there’s a few articles this week on the negotiations. Here’s what I’ve been reading this week!

COVAX is a global initiative set up to give all countries equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines – but it’s faced significant challenges, like vaccines never arriving, and big goals that have yet to be realized.

Lawrence Gostin îs a public health expert (he literally wrote one of my text books in grad school) and wrote an excellent article on the historical context of vaccine mandates and their legality.

There’s a push in Congress to expand Medicare benefits to include coverage for vision and dental services but there are many reasons why it might not happen.

The Food & Drug Administration has released long-awaited guidance on sodium reduction targets for more than 160 food products, encouraging food makers to comply with the voluntary regulation to address the high rates of hypertension and heart disease in the U.S.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid approved a plan from Colorado that will require private insurance sold in the state to cover gender-affirming care, marking the first time this type of coverage requirement has been approved by the federal government for individual and small group health plans.

In 2022, Kansans will vote on a ballot initiative that could amend their state constitution to remove abortion as a fundamental right, potentially creating an abortion desert in the midwest larger than France. Half of the abortions performed in Kansas are for patients from out of state, mostly from Missouri which has only one abortion clinic.

The most popular provision of the reconciliation package is lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals, but the argument against allowing the government to negotiate (and thus lower) drug prices is that pharmaceutical companies will not make enough money to invest in the research and development of new treatments and medications – is that actually true?

Ed Yong outlines the (many) weaknesses in the U.S. medical and public health infrastructure as we barrel towards the inevitable next pandemic and why we’re running out of time to prepare.

If feel like listening to your health policy news, check out this week’s What the Health podcast from KHN or Politico’s Pulse Check for more on vaccine mandates.

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