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The top health stories of 2022



Glad Thursday, y’all — and don’t log out for the vacations fairly but. Keep tuned for tomorrow’s version: We have now one thing enjoyable to finish the yr on. 

As we speak’s version: U.S. life expectancy continued to fall in 2021 as coronavirus and drug-related deaths surged. Lots of of hospitals throughout the nation sue sufferers or threaten their credit score. However first …

A assessment of 2022’s prime well being tales

It’s our second-to-last version of the yr. What a trip 2022 has been.

The general public discovered of the Supreme Court docket’s possible determination to overturn Roe v. Wade from a leaked draft. The pharmaceutical trade noticed a uncommon defeat. The coronavirus marched on, and the White Home confronted one other infectious-disease risk. 

Because the yr attracts to an in depth, we’ve compiled an inventory of well being tales that we’re nonetheless excited about from round The Submit and past — from memorable scoops to revealing options to accountability journalism. 

— In January, Dan Diamond dove deep into President Biden’s pandemic response a yr in, and located that Biden was struggling to ship on a few of the key guarantees of his 200-page plan to defeat the virus. 

— “This Texas teen needed an abortion. She now has twins.” Caroline Kitchener wrote about an 18-year-old who discovered she was pregnant in late August 2021, simply two days earlier than a state regulation limiting the process after fetal cardiac exercise is detected went into impact. Caroline’s story — printed lower than every week earlier than the Supreme Court docket overturned the constitutional proper to an abortion — supplied a glimpse of what a post-Roe America would seem like. 

In mid-Might, the nation had one case of monkeypox. Three months later, that quantity had grown to 13,500, although the caseload has since subsided. Regardless of efforts to study from the nation’s coronavirus failures, federal officers struggled early within the first months of the document outbreak to satisfy the rising demand for testing, vaccines and coverings, Dan Diamond, Fenit Nirappil and Lena H. Solar reported in August. In the meantime, public well being authorities had been navigating a fragile balancing act: Learn how to warn males who’ve intercourse with males concerning the virus with out fueling hate, Fenit wrote.

“What if Yale finds out?” William Wan revealed that the college had pressured suicidal college students to withdraw from faculty after which apply to get again in. Present and former college students then sued Yale.

— One sobering statistic: Firearms killed extra kids and adolescents in 2020 than automotive accidents, which had lengthy been the main explanation for demise for younger folks, based on an evaluation by Dan Keating. 

And across the D.C.-area Pressure over the function of racism in public well being strained a Virginia company underneath Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. The state’s chief public well being official, Colin Greene, rejected the state-recognized declaration that racism is a public well being disaster and downplayed the function of racism in well being disparities — and that left some fearing for his or her jobs, Jenna Portnoy reported.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward landed a large story. A majority of the Supreme Court docket was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, an preliminary draft opinion confirmed. The bombshell report rapidly upended the political panorama, catapulting the difficulty to the forefront of the upcoming midterm elections. 

One other staggering statistic: Greater than 100 million People are saddled with health-care debt, per Kaiser Well being Information’s Noam N. Levey. That’s one of many information factors from a collection exploring the size and causes of medical debt from KHN and NPR.

— Pharmaceutical Analysis and Producers of America has misplaced its edge, Stat’s Rachel Cohrs reported. The key drug foyer “couldn’t muster the cash or the clout” to cease Democrats from passing laws permitting Medicare to barter drug costs, a serious defeat for the trade. “PhRMA could have watered the main reforms down, but it surely didn’t mount a strain marketing campaign prefer it has previously,” Rachel wrote.

The hospice motion has grow to be a for-profit hustle, ProPublica’s Ava Kofman revealed in a deep dive into the trade. Half of all People die in hospice care, but a scarcity of regulation has allowed fraud and exploitation to proliferate.

— This story could really feel prefer it occurred a lifetime in the past. However in 2022, Politico’s Alex Thompson broke the information that an inside White Home investigation concluded Biden’s prime science adviser, Eric Lander, had bullied and demeaned his subordinates. Lander resigned hours after the story got here out.

The Indianapolis Star’s Shari Rudavsky and Rachel Fradette reported that a 10-year-old rape sufferer had traveled from Ohio to Indiana to acquire an abortion. Throughout the nation, conservatives had pushed for abortion restrictions with out exceptions for rape and incest, and the story of the 10-year-old put the GOP in an uncomfortable public highlight.

People enrolled in Medicaid have retained their protection all through the pandemic. However in Mississippi, the state despatched a letter to postpartum girls telling them they had been now not eligible for this system, resulting in confusion and a reluctance to hunt care, Mississippi As we speak’s Isabelle Taft wrote. 

Omni-update: Title 42 is as soon as once more holding up a crucial deal in Congress.

Senate leaders had been aiming to move the $1.7 trillion spending package deal early this morning with authorities funding set to expire on the finish of the week. However the two events at the moment are feuding over an modification from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that might hold pandemic-era guidelines permitting the U.S. to rapidly expel migrants on the borders, per The Early 202. 

The newest: Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated the 2 sides are “very shut” to an settlement on the chamber’s ground at 2 a.m. The Senate is convening at 8 a.m. 

Life expectancy drops for second consecutive yr in 2021

U.S. life expectancy continued its regular, alarming decline final yr, dropping to 76.4 years at delivery in 2021 from 77 in 2020, based on last information launched this morning by the Nationwide Middle for Well being Statistics

Which means People can anticipate to reside so long as they did in 1996 — a dismal benchmark for a dependable measure of well being that ought to rise steadily in a developed nation, our colleague Lenny Bernstein writes. 

  • In all, 3.46 million folks died in the US in 2021, 80,502 greater than the earlier yr.
  • At delivery, girls may anticipate to reside 79.3 years final yr and males may anticipate to reside to 73.5 — life spans that each declined sharply from 2020. 
  • The coronavirus killed 416,893, whereas drug overdoses had been answerable for 106,699 deaths. 

Zooming in: Drug overdoses rose by 14 % in 2021 and have quintupled in 20 years. Two-thirds of the deaths had been as a result of highly effective artificial fentanyl, though deaths from methamphetamine and cocaine additionally rose sharply final yr. 

Coronary heart illness and most cancers continued because the main causes of demise. Nonetheless, the flu and pneumonia dropped off the checklist of the highest 10 causes of mortality within the U.S. — possible as a result of elements of the inhabitants remained masked in opposition to the coronavirus — and had been changed by illnesses of the liver, which are sometimes associated to alcohol use or viruses.

Biden administration releases Tamiflu stockpile

The Division of Well being and Human Providers is releasing further doses of the prescription flu drugs Tamiflu from the nation’s reserves to satisfy surging demand for the drug as the US confronts a extreme and early flu season.

States and territories got entry to their very own Tamiflu stockpiles final week, which had been beforehand reserved for pandemic preparedness. Jurisdictions which have exhausted their provides of the antiviral remedy could now request further doses from the Strategic Nationwide Stockpile.

The massive image: The Meals and Drug Administration hasn’t listed Tamiflu as being briefly provide, however pharmacists and customers have reported issue discovering generic variations of the drug in some areas throughout the nation, CNN stories. 

CBS Information’s Margaret Brennan spoke with former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb concerning the demand on Sunday:

Lots of of U.S. hospitals sue sufferers over unpaid medical drugs

Lots of the nation’s hospitals use authorized motion or different aggressive ways to pursue sufferers for unpaid payments, regardless of rising proof of the hurt attributable to medical debt, an investigation by Kaiser Well being Information discovered.

Whereas particular person hospital techniques have come underneath scrutiny lately for his or her assortment practices, KHN’s evaluation of greater than 500 amenities exhibits that the insurance policies are widespread, suggesting many of the nation’s roughly 5,100 hospitals deploy such ways. Among the many findings: 

  • Greater than two-thirds sue sufferers or take different authorized motion in opposition to them, comparable to garnishing wages or putting liens on property. 
  • About 25 % promote sufferers’ money owed to debt collectors, who in flip can pursue sufferers for years for unpaid payments. 
  • About 1 in 5 deny non-emergency care to folks with excellent debt. 

Many hospital officers say they’re obligated to gather what sufferers owe, however stress the trade’s dedication to serving to sufferers who can’t pay their payments. Charity care is accessible at most U.S. hospitals, and nonprofit medical techniques should present monetary help as a situation for not paying taxes. 

However at many medical facilities, details about monetary help is tough to search out: About 1 in 5 hospitals researched by KHN don’t submit their help insurance policies on-line. Additionally, requirements for qualifying for help fluctuate broadly and making use of for help might be extraordinarily sophisticated, requiring sufferers to supply exhaustive info and private finance data, KHN’s Noam N. Levey writes. 

  • State well being officers are as soon as once more calling on folks to put on masks to guard in opposition to a triple risk of respiratory viruses this vacation season. However in contrast to winters of the pandemic’s previous, they’re relying on People to voluntarily adjust to their pleas, Fenit Nirappil, Henry Rodgers, Vanessa Kjeldsen and Samantha Aguilar report for The Submit. 
  • The FDA absolutely accepted monoclonal antibody Actemra to deal with covid-19 in hospitalized grownup sufferers, Genentech introduced yesterday.
  • China could also be struggling to maintain a tally of coronavirus instances and deaths, specialists on the World Well being Group warned yesterday amid considerations a couple of lack of thorough and dependable information from the nation because it battles a surge of infections, The Submit’s Adam Taylor stories. 

The Secret Abortions of Texas (Stephania Taladrid | The New Yorker )

Medicare’s dwelling hospital program could quickly get a lifeline from Congress. Can it show its price? (By Mario Aguilar | Stat)

A TikTok development offered out Ozempic, leaving folks with diabetes dizzy, scared (By Emma Court docket | Bloomberg Information)

Thanks for studying! See y’all tomorrow.


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