1. The Affordable Care Act lives to fight one more day
On June 17, 2021, the United States Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that made the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. The argument put forward by several Republican attorneys general was that Congress effectively reversed the individual mandate by setting the tax penalty for lack of health insurance at $ 0. As a result, they claimed, the whole law should fall. The Supreme Court voted seven to two that the states and individual plaintiffs were not empowered to bring the lawsuit, meaning they did not show that the law harmed them directly. The judges have not weighed the merits of the arguments, and the net effect is that the Court of Auditors remains intact.
This month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also announced that they would be allocating $ 80 million to navigators, individuals, and organizations trained to help consumers choose Marketplace health insurance Support enrollment in 2022 states that use the state ACA Health Insurance marketplace. This increased funding comes after the previous government cut funding for navigators nationwide to just $ 10 million.
2. Medicaid is enrolling 9 million more people during the pandemic
The economic devastation caused by Covid-19 has resulted in millions of additional Americans qualifying for Medicaid, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicaid enrollment rose nationwide from 71.3 million enrollments in February 2020 to 80.5 million in January 2021. Federal regulations that allow states to exclude Medicaid members only after the end of the national emergency also contributed to an increase in Medicaid enrollment .
3. New approaches to the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer offer new hope
New research, published by the American Society of Clinical Oncology ahead of its annual meeting and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicated that a drug originally approved for ovarian cancer was also effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence or death in patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 reduces genetic variants. The results can influence the treatment of aggressive breast cancer.
Another promising development came this month when researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute released data suggesting that an antibiotic developed in the 1950s was effective in killing tumor cells with damaged BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genetic defects are commonly found in breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. The new findings, which need to be further explored in clinical trials, point to a possible new approach to hard-to-treat cancers.
4. The gender gap stifles innovation for women’s health
A new paper published in Science this month suggests the world is likely to be missing out on a lot of innovations aimed at improving women’s health. Women are more likely to invent biomedical inventions that solve health problems for women, and men are more likely to invent solutions for men. However, since women hold only 16% of biomedical patents, the paper suggests that technological advancement for women’s health is likely to be stifled because of the gender gap in the biomedical field. If women had patented inventions with the same frequency as men between 1976 and 2010 (the period covered by the study), there would probably have been around 6,500 more inventions focused on women
5. New mothers are more likely to seek psychiatric care during a pandemic, new study shows
More than half (56%) of postpartum women in a recent study in couple and family psychology: Research and practice reported symptoms of postpartum depression during Covid-19. The study documented the effects of Covid-19 on women, suggesting that the pandemic had a negative impact on women during perinatal care. To meet the health needs, including mental health, of postpartum women, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) gave states the ability to cease Medicaid benefits from as little as 60 days to up to 12 months after delivery to expand postpartum women. Medicaid currently covers about half of all births in the United States.
Several US states are expanding postpartum Medicaid coverage under ARPA. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Illinois, Missouri, and Georgia have already expanded Medicaid coverage for women in the postpartum period, and several more states are pending federal approval. Other states are also working to improve access to postpartum care for women. Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced the Safe Birthing Act to make advanced postpartum coverage mandatory, but that bill has yet to go through the legislative process.
6. Vaccinating pregnant women against the flu did not harm babies
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that infants whose mothers received the flu vaccine while pregnant were no more likely to experience adverse health effects than babies who were not exposed to the vaccine in utero. Although there were no increased health risks to the babies, only 36% of women had received the flu vaccine during their pregnancy, suggesting that the flu vaccines are still reluctant.
7. Biosimilars can be the key to lower drug prices
A study published in Health Affairs this month looked at how quickly biosimilars – lower-cost versions of biological drugs – were catching on in the United States. Although early biosimilars gained popularity relatively slowly, newer products have grown faster, suggesting that biosimilars adoption is accelerating. This trend is good for patients and the healthcare system, as biosimilars work just as well as their reference products, but at a significantly lower cost. According to the study, these lower costs help offset the general trend towards rising prices for biologics.
8. The Biden Administration extends Title IX protection to LGBTQ students
This month the US Department of Education announced that it would enforce the application of the Title IX Prohibition Against Gender Discrimination for LGBTQ students as well. Title IX prohibits educational programs or institutions receiving federal funding from denying access to student activities or benefits based on the student’s gender. The Biden administration’s policy is based on a 2020 decision by the US Supreme Court that extended protection in the workplace from gender discrimination to LGBTQ people. The new guidelines reverse a Trump-era policy that was released late in his final term and which interpreted the Supreme Court’s decision in the opposite direction.