President Biden took a big step to aid those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and their employer-sponsored health insurance ordering the federal marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act to reopen on Feb. 15 for a special three-month enrollment period.
I’ve written previously on Covering Health about the potential harms of reporting on surveys and polls about people’s intent to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In late September, the FDA had not yet authorized any vaccines, so any poll or survey questions were theoretical. Now that vaccines are in distribution, however, does that change things?
There is a growing amount of concern in the U.S. about SARS-CoV-2 variants and the possibility they may diminish the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
The story is evolving. On Jan. 25, the Minnesota Department of Health said a variant, first found in Brazil, was found in a patient in Minnesota. On Jan. 28, the CDC announced that a variant, first found in South Africa, was found in South Carolina. Both variants have shown a potential to reduce vaccine effectiveness. [See this piece by AHCJ’s Tara Haelle on understanding the nuances of vaccine efficacy.] Continue reading
Food insecurity — when people lack access to food or go hungry due to poverty or other challenges — remains a serious problem for many older adults. A new study finds that more than 25% of people with both Medicaid and Medicare, the dual eligibles, said they were food insecure. Among all older adults in the survey, food insecurity was most common (6.2%) in those 75 to 84; it was least common (4.8%) in adults 85 and older.
Social issues such as hunger, inadequate housing, social isolation and poverty are linked to poor health, especially as we age. Continue reading
On Jan. 21, President Biden published a 200-page national plan for combating the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for the next one.
It is a stark contrast to former President Trump, whose coronavirus task force never created a national plan for responding to the pandemic and instead left it up to states and their health departments to determine strategies for ending the pandemic, resulting in a patchwork of plans that did little to stop the pandemic.
Biden put federal heft behind his national plan, directing agencies to focus on seven goals: Continue reading
Sharon Begley, a science journalist who was as well known for her kindness and generosity as she was for her phenomenal reporting, passed away from lung cancer on Jan. 16. Though she was reporting for Stat at the time of her death, her career of 43 years also included work – and countless awards – while at Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.
Described by one previous mentee as “brilliant, kind, hilarious, wise,” Begley reported until the very end, filing her final story five days before her death, as her Stat colleague, Eric Boodman, wrote in his moving obituary of this “science writing royalty.” If there was any question how far-reaching and influential her work was, consider that among the outpouring of condolences for her passing were words from NIH Director Francis Collins, physician Atul Gawande, the research institute Fred Hutch, and the National Center for Science Education. Her words could be so enchanting one of her quotes has even been misattributed to Carl Sagan. Continue reading