- Medical debt, one of the disgraces of the world’s most expensive health care in the planet’s wealthiest nations, has spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic. A consumer finance firm recently found that its 22 million members carry $45 billion in bills owed to providers and in collections. With the coronavirus also staggering the economy, bankrupting medical debt is only likely to skyrocket as the nation’s 30 million jobless exhaust their finances and lose health insurance from their work.
- Health insurance offers one of the few widely available means for ordinary folks to try to protect themselves and their loved ones from seeing their finances destroyed by illness or injury. But new U.S. Census data, describing a time before the pandemic, shows that “the first three years of President Trump’s tenure were a period of contracting health insurance coverage,” the Washington Post reported. “The decreases reversed gains that began near the end of the Great Recession and accelerated during early years of expanded access to health plans and Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act — the sprawling law that was a signature domestic achievement of President Barack Obama and has been derided by Republicans, including Trump, ever since.” Just under 30 million Americans were uninsured — 1 in 10 of us, with the numbers rising by several million over the last several years of the Trump term.
As the November elections draw near, let’s not lose sight of the flurry of developments in response to the politicization of the pandemic and the assaults by the Trump administration on medical science. Among them:
- Vaccine makers disclosed secret details about their plans to test the safety and effectiveness of a coronavirus inoculation on tens of thousands of Americans.
- Leading medical experts stepped to the fore again to insist that clinical trials of the prospective shot would not be meddled with by politicians, and the vaccine would be unlikely to become available to the public before Nov. 3.
The Covid-19 pandemic has complicated the already difficult efforts to combat substance abuse: New reports affirm how opioid abuse and drug overdoses are soaring, and vaping, while showing favorable declines for the first time in years, also may be creating a hard-core group of nicotine-addicted young people.
With powerful painkillers, the Wall Street Journal reported:
“Counties in states spanning the country, from Washington to Arizona and Florida, are reporting rising drug fatalities this year … This follows a likely record number of deadly overdoses in the U.S. last year, with more than 72,000 people killed, according to federal projections.”
It could be a good thing that the product’s makers — Oxford University and AstraZeneca — followed medical-scientific protocols and paused their Phase III clinical trial due to a participant’s unexplained illness.
Officially, the company offered spare information about the occurrence, especially because it affects the private medical information of a single individual.
- What would happen to a military leader who was briefed and admitted to knowing of severe threats but downplayed them, resulting over a few months to the United States seeing its Indo-Pacific and European Commands wiped out — combined losses of roughly 180,000 in U.S. forces?
- How would the governor of Maryland be treated if he was told of a public works problem but belittled it and in less than a year the cities of Columbia, Bethesda, and Annapolis and all the people in them were destroyed?
Although President Trump has made California a favored object of scorn, the Golden State has put itself on a path to help patients better rein in Big Pharma price gouging on prescription drugs in a way that Washington hasn’t. California lawmakers have given the green light for the state to leap into making generic drugs, notably affordable insulin to assist diabetics.
The state legislative season ended with a bill, advancing to Gov. Gavin Newsom for his signature by Sept. 30. The bill orders California’s top health agencies by January to partner with existing makers to develop and produce generics and biosimilars. As the Los Angeles Times reported of the California pharmaceuticals plan detailed in SB-852:
“Under the measure, state-developed generics would be ‘widely’ available to public and private purchasers within California. Taxpayers would pick up the costs — roughly $1 million to $2 million in startup funding, plus ongoing staff costs estimated in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, according to a state fiscal analysis. It’s unclear which drugs the state would make or procure, though it would target drugs that could produce the biggest cost savings for the state and consumers.
Although many fans will be sad that football won’t dominate their lives as it usually does in the months after Labor Day, the pandemic-related constriction, postponement, and cancellation of so many prep and collegiate sports may have an upside: It likely will add to declines in the need for urgent care for dangerous and damaging head injuries.
Public awareness has soared about the risks of such trauma, with preventive measures leading to a sharp dip in the emergency department visits for sports- and recreation-related injuries to children and adolescents, federal researchers have found.
Their study for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was based on data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program from 2001 to 2018. Early in that time period, young people’s ED trips peaked at “411 per 100,000 youths aged 17 years or younger in 2012 before declining by 32% to 299 per 100,000 by 2018,” journalist Bridget M. Kuehn wrote in an online article for the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Trump Administration — yet again — has sowed confusion, frustration, and anger over the federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic, creating potentially harmful credibility issues for a prospective coronavirus vaccine, the scientific concept of “herd immunity,” a possible blood-based treatment for the illness, as well as testing, contact tracing, and quarantines for the disease.
The White House follies would be considered bad farce, save for the reality that the U.S. death toll races toward 200,000 and infections have skyrocketed past 6 million. The U.S. has 22 percent of the world’s Covid death toll, but only 4 percent of the world’s population.
With schools reopening, infections, hospitalizations, and deaths among children are on the rise.
Three facilities, indeed, got expensive rebukes from state inspectors, but dozens more were hit with milder fines that also suggest widespread issues in the institutions, notably with the crucial concern of infection control.
In contrast to the Washington Post’s previous coverage of the sizable fines for Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($275,000) and Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($120,000), and Kensington Healthcare Center ($294,000), the Baltimore Sun said it, too, had obtained Maryland records indicating:
Movie fans are mourning the tragic and early death of the brilliant actor Chadwick Boseman. He was 43 and battled colon cancer with courage, including as he starred as the “trailblazing Marvel superhero ‘Black Panther,’ “as well as “real-life icons Jackie Robinson in ‘42,’ James Brown in ‘Get on Up’ and Thurgood Marshall in ‘Marshall,’” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Japanese, in the meantime, dealt with sadness and uncertainty as Shinzo Abe, their nation’s longest serving prime minister, announced he would step down from office due to a relapse of ulcerative colitis, the bowel disease that led him to resign after just a year during his first stint in office, the New York Times reported.