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CMSlogo1-300x156Tens of millions of seniors, hit by one of the largest increases in recent memory of their monthly Medicare charges due to a prescription drug regulatory debacle, will not see a penny refunded this year on what amounts to a federal overcharge.

This will occur, even though it was floated as a possibility and the cause of their health care coverage increase didn’t materialize.

The 2021 embarrassment for federal officials, instead, may turn into inflation anticipation, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has said.

deppheardnbc-300x173When two wealthy celebrities engage in no-holds barred combat in a courtroom over the most personal aspects of their private lives together, the results can be disconcerting — but also riveting — for regular folks watching the legal wrangling.

The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation case, with its mixed verdict from jurors, not only became an obsession for many pop culture fans, it also has prompted a torrent of commentary about its First Amendment implications, jurisprudence in Britain vs. America, as well as what the brutal dispute may mean for men and women litigants.

The case also should force a serious reconsideration of the tough issue of intimate partner violence and the expertise that medical and mental health specialists can bring to bear to help outsiders understand this largely hidden problem, two forensic psychiatrists, Renée Sorrentino and Susan Hatters Friedman, argue.

Abbottlogo-300x77The giant drug maker Abbott and the federal Food and Drug Administration both should hang their heads in shame as more information becomes public as to how they left millions of vulnerable infants hungry and put kids’ health at risk by wrongs involving the manufacture and distribution of a vital foodstuff — baby formula.

Millions of parents have gone into meltdown because of a nationwide shortage of the needed nutrient. It was sparked by the shutdown of Abbott’s formula-producing plant in Michigan, as well as the company’s product recall after babies got sick and died from  infections involving Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.

While Abbott has emphasized that experts have not conclusively linked the bacteria to its formula and the firm has played up its cooperation in a product recall, Robert Califf, the FDA’s chief and a doctor, ripped the company. He told a U.S. House subcommittee that agency inspectors found “egregiously unsanitary” conditions at the drug maker’s plant, the New York Times reported, quoting him, thusly:

carskidsign-300x276Even with budget-busting gas prices, Americans are driving with abandon, especially as the nation heads into the summer vacation season. But what will get motorists to slow down, buckle up, and heed vital road safety steps — especially as the latest new numbers underscore the lethal toll if they don’t?

Traffic fatalities climbed by 10% last year versus the year before, busting the percentage increase record in such deaths since federal officials started keeping their tallies in 1975, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found. The Washington Post reported that the 42,915 fatalities in 2021 were a the highest such number nationwide since 2005.

The spiking road toll also carried this grim outcome for pedestrians, a leading road safety group reported:

socialmedia1-150x150The social media sites that young folks so adore also have turned into virtual illicit drug bazaars, helping to explain the exploding problems with the powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl and why opioids and overdoses of them have become a leading killer of Americans ages 18 to 45.

During the coronavirus pandemic, especially, and continuing onward, Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media apps, including those that allow users to swap encrypted or disappearing messages, have helped to fuel a burgeoning market in Percocet, Xanax, and other prescription pills, the New York Times has reported. Authorities have warned that those drugs by themselves would be hugely problematic but criminal dealers also have taken to tainting their wares with fentanyl — an easily manufactured opioid that requires only minute doses to provide a big kick, fast addiction, and too easy death. As the newspaper reported:

“Overdoses are now the leading cause of preventable death among people ages 18 to 45, ahead of suicide, traffic accidents, and gun violence, according to federal data. Although experimental drug use by teenagers in the United States has been dropping since 2010, their deaths from fentanyl have skyrocketed, to 884 in 2021, from 253 in 2019, according to a recent study in the journal JAMA. Rates of illicit prescription pill use are now highest among people ages 18 to 25, according to federal data.

axiosmay22covidpoll-300x187The coronavirus pandemic is surging anew, with federal health officials warning that just under half of Americans live in parts of the country where transmission rates have increased sharply enough that they should return to wearing face masks in public, indoor settings.

Older Americans, officials say, should get a second booster shot if more than four months have passed since their first booster. This is an upgraded recommendation from before, when officials  described the additional shot as an option for those 50 and only encouraged it for those 65 and older.

As for those ages 5 to 11, federal regulators are recommending boosters for this group of kids if at least five months have passed since their last shot. Officials in January had recommended boosters for those ages 12 and older.

howardhospitallogoHospitals have raised major alarms with insurers, businesses, and patients by asserting that spiking costs for medical staff, especially nurses, will lead them to increase their prices in the days ahead by as much as 15%.

This would be a budget-busting move, breaking contracts the caregiving institutions have struck with employers and insurers, leading not only to potential premium shocks but sharply higher charges for patients, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper noted that the soaring hospital price plans are coming up in negotiations now among chains like HCA Healthcare and Universal Health Services, companies, and insurers, differing markedly from typical discussions on this always tough issue:

Mallinckrodtlogo-300x137Even as the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis worsens and breaks annual records for its resulting death toll, the reckoning for parties blamed for fostering the national nightmare is grinding forward.

A federal judge in Cleveland has begun hearing arguments whether three giant pharmacy chains should be fined billions of dollars after a jury in November found them culpable for damages they caused in two Ohio counties in the opioid mess.

And new disclosures are emerging regarding bankrupt drug maker Mallinckrodt, which federal officials have described as the “the kingpin within the drug cartel” of legitimate companies driving the opioid epidemic.

coronapreventablenpr-300x226President Biden has ordered flags in public buildings across the country to be flown at half staff as the nation officially mourns 1 million American deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic. As he noted in a statement:

“One million empty chairs around the dinner table. Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaving behind a family, a community, and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic. Jill and I pray for each of them. To those who are grieving and asking yourself how will you go on without him or what will you do without her, I understand. I know the pain of that black hole in your heart. It is unrelenting. But I also know the ones you love are never truly gone. They will always be with you. As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before …”

The milestone that the country likely hit a while ago, a toll that many experts hoped would never be reached has proved hard to grasp for too many people in this country. The coronavirus deaths are the equivalent or exceed the populations of cities like San Jose, Calif., Austin, Tex., or Jacksonville, Fla. The comparisons are inexact and not easy, but with Memorial Day approaching, is it appropriate to note that the U.S. pandemic deaths now roughly equal the nation’s fatalities in the Civil War, World War I and World War II combined?

aspirinme-225x300Aspirin has gotten its crown knocked askew as a cheap, effective low-dose heart problem preventer for older Americans.

That’s because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has weighed the evidence, heard the comments, and recommended against patients 60 and older taking the common drug to avert cardiovascular diseases. The experts gave this purportedly protective step a “D” grade.

The USPSTF is an elite, independent, and influential group of experts who advise the federal government, insurers, and clinicians about the safety and effectiveness of medical tests and procedures based on rigorous consideration of their merits.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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