The Rundown | Week of 4.30.2018

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The Uninsured Rate Is Rising Again

A new survey by The Commonwealth Fund showed that the uninsured rate is now 15.5 percent, down from  12.7 percent in 2016. The think tank believes the declines are most likely due to the Trump administration’s Obamacare rollbacks such as cutting ads and shortening the enrollment period. However, rates are up significantly among low-income adults. Another finding was the disparity between states that adopted Medicaid and those that didn’t; the former had uninsured rates of 11.4 percent compared to the latter’s 21.9 percent. The Commonwealth Fund survey consisted of reports from over 2,000 adults from February to March and had a 2.8 percent margin of error.
>> Read More: The Percentage of People Without Insurance Is Once Again Rising According to Survey

98 Reports of E. coli from 22 States

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the current E. coli outbreak from romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, AZ, is the worst in over a decade. The current bacteria strain tends to result in more serious illnesses. There have been 98 cases of E. coli-related food poisoning in 22 states. Forty-six have been hospitalized, 10 of whom were diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a form of kidney failure. Matthew Wise, the deputy branch chief for Outbreak Response at the CDC, said that they are expecting more reports of illness. So far, no deaths have been reported.
>> Read More: 98 Reports of E. coli From 22 States Now Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Bill Gates Wants a Universal Flu Shot and He’s Willing to Pay for It Too

Bill Gates spoke about his fear of a global pandemic in April at the New England Journal of Medicine’s Shattuck Lecture in Boston. “Given the continual emergence of new pathogens, the increasing risk of a bioterror attack, and how connected our world is through air travel,” he told audience members, “there is a significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” Gates is calling for a global effort to fight against what could be an international catastrophe. He is specifically tackling the flu by working with others to introduce a $12 million effort for scientists to create a universal flu vaccine. They have already partnered with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has a candidate for such a vaccine that is likely to be in human clinical trials next year.
>> Read More: Bill Gates Calls For, And Funds, Steps to Prevent a Global Pandemic

Chief of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Thinks Healthcare Needs to Catch Up

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recently said that when it comes to how other industries are doing what’s best for the consumer, healthcare has some room for improvement. She especially wants greater transparency initially regarding prices as well as more convenient, accessible health data. She was a keynote speaker at the World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., when she said, “We know that any other place in the economy you can know what things are going cost. Somehow in healthcare it’s a big mystery.” Over the past month, the agency has issued proposals aimed at creating more interoperability of digital healthcare records.
>> Read More: Medicare Chief Says It’s Time Healthcare Caught Up to Other Industries to Benefit Consumers

States Want Drugmakers to Pay for Opioid Addiction Rehab

Since the ‘90s, doctors have overprescribed opioids resulting in a rise in related deaths. In 2016, more than 40,000 Americans fatally overdosed across the country. Lawmakers are working to find a way to treat the opioid addiction epidemic. One method in the works is to levy taxes on drug distributors and drug manufacturers. Fifteen states have proposed bills that impose a tax on the prescription painkillers and these bills would direct millions of dollars to prevention and treatment programs. Many of the measures already have bipartisan support, but drugmakers are pushing back, claiming the tax would only increase the cost of the drug, which would be paid by taxpayers and patients. They hope to find an alternate method of paying for treatments and prevention.
>> Read more: Drugmakers Push Back Against Lawmakers’ Calls to Tax Opioid Crisis

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