First Edition: Oct. 20, 2022 – Kaiser Health News

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Today's early morning highlights from the major news organizations.
KHN: Blind To Problems: How VA’s Electronic Record System Shuts Out Visually Impaired Patients 
Sarah Sheffield, a nurse practitioner at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Eugene, Oregon, had a problem. Her patients — mostly in their 70s and beyond — couldn’t read computer screens. It’s not an unusual problem for older people, which is why you might think Oracle Cerner, the developers of the agency’s new digital health record system, would have anticipated it. But they didn’t. (Tahir, 10/20)
KHN: Family Caregivers Find Support On #Dementia TikTok
It all changed on a Saturday night in New York City in 2016. Jacquelyn Revere was 29 and headed out to attend a friend’s comedy show. She was on the subway when her phone rang. It was a friend of her mom’s, back in Los Angeles. That’s weird, Revere thought. She never calls. “And while I was on the subway, my mom’s friend said, ‘Something is wrong with your mom,’” Revere said. “‘We don’t know what’s going on, but your mom got lost driving home. What should have been a 15-minute drive ended up taking two hours.’” (Wells, 10/20)
KHN: 5 Things To Know About Montana’s ‘Born Alive’ Ballot Initiative
Montana voters will decide Nov. 8 whether to approve a ballot initiative declaring that an embryo or fetus is a legal person with a right to medical care if it survives an abortion or delivery. The measure would impose severe penalties on health workers who don’t provide that care. Legislative Referendum 131 was approved for next month’s election by state lawmakers in 2021, more than a year before the U.S. Supreme Court removed federal protections for abortion in June. (Volz, 10/20)
The Wall Street Journal: FDA Authorizes Novavax Covid-19 Shot As Booster For Adults
The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization to Novavax Inc.’s Covid-19 shot as a booster for adults. The shot targets the original strain of the virus, whereas the updated booster shots from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, authorized in August by the FDA, target both the original strain and newer Omicron strains. The Novavax shot also uses a protein platform, whereas the other two companies’ boosters use messenger RNA, a newer technology. (Whyte, 10/19)
AP: US Clears Novavax COVID Booster Dose 
The Food and Drug Administration said the new booster option is for people 18 and older who can’t get the updated omicron-targeting Pfizer or Moderna boosters for medical or accessibility reasons — or who otherwise would not receive a COVID-19 booster shot at all. The FDA specified the additional Novavax shot was to be used as a first booster — not for people who’ve already had one or more booster doses already — at least six months after completing their primary shots. (10/19)
Bloomberg: Low-Income Kids Should Get Free Covid Shots, CDC Panel Says
On Thursday, the panel will vote to update the 2023 childhood and the adult vaccination schedules, which are revised annually. The panel is likely to vote on whether Covid-19 vaccines should be added to the routine immunization schedules. While there is concern spreading online that adding Covid-19 vaccines to the immunization schedule would make them mandatory, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said that won’t be the case. (Rutherford, John Milton and Baumann, 10/19)
CNBC: Uninsured Kids Will Still Receive Covid Vaccines For Free After Shots Move To Commercial Market
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a major step Wednesday toward ensuring that kids who are uninsured can receive Covid-19 vaccines for free after the federal government shifts its immunization program to the commercial market. (Kimball, 10/19)
Axios: COVID Played A Role In 1 In 4 Maternal Deaths In 2020 And 2021
COVID-19 contributed to a quarter of maternal deaths in the first two years of the pandemic, with Black pregnant women experiencing a mortality rate nearly three times higher than their white peers, according to an oversight report to Congress released on Wednesday. (Moreno, 10/19)
AP: COVID-19 Linked To Increase In US Pregnancy-Related Deaths 
The percentage of preterm and low birthweight babies also went up last year, after holding steady for years. And more pregnant or postpartum women are reporting symptoms of depression. (Seitz, 10/19)
The Washington Post: White Covid Deaths Increasing In U.S., Surpassing Death Rate Of Blacks 
A Post analysis of covid death data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from April 2020 through this summer found the racial disparity vanished at the end of last year, becoming roughly equal. And at times during that same period, the overall age-adjusted death rate for White people slightly surpassed that of Black and Latino people. (Johnson and Keating, 10/19)
CBS News: NIH Probes Whether Boston University COVID Experiments Should Have Triggered Review
The National Institutes of Health is now examining whether experiments performed at Boston University should have triggered a federal review, the agency says, after scientists at the school tested strains they created of the COVID-19 virus combining the ancestral and Omicron variants. (Tin, 10/19)
NBC News: Omicron Subvariants: BA.4.6 Can Evade Immunity And May Lead To Reinfections
An omicron subvariant is once again demonstrating immune-dodging abilities, posing a threat to both vaccinated and previously infected individuals. A report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that the subvariant, called BA.4.6, could drive reinfections. (Edwards, 10/19)
CIDRAP: Study Shows Low Antibody Response To Monkeypox Vaccine 
A new study in Nature Medicine from a group of researchers at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands shows a low antibody response to the two-dose Jynneos monkeypox vaccine in non-primed people, or those who had not previously received a smallpox vaccine. (Soucheray, 10/19)
CIDRAP: Rapid Test Could Help Distinguish Bacterial From Viral Infections 
The study evaluated the FebriDx bacterial and viral test, a disposable point-of-care immunoassay designed to detect and differentiate bacterial- from viral-associated host immune response by measuring myxovirus resistance protein (MxA) and C-reactive protein (CRP) biomarkers in finger-prick blood samples. (Dall, 10/19)
The Washington Post: Expert Advisers Urge FDA To Pull Pregnancy Drug From Market 
An expert panel convened by the Food and Drug Administration voted 14-1 on Wednesday to recommend withdrawing a preterm pregnancy treatment from the market, saying it does not work. During the sometimes contentious three days of hearings, the drugmaker Covis Pharma, backed by some clinicians and patient groups, had argued there is evidence to suggest the drug, called Makena, might work in a narrower population that includes Black women at high risk of giving birth too soon. (Chat and Roubein, 10/19)
Axios: Controversy Over Preterm Birth Drug Reflects Broader Issues With FDA Approval Process
A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel's recommendation to pull an early birth drug from the market is only the latest controversy surrounding a popular program aimed at getting promising new treatments to patients faster. (Owens, 10/20)
The New York Times: Social Security Will Now Allow People To Select Their Gender In Records 
The Social Security Administration announced on Wednesday that people will now be allowed to select the sex that best aligns with their gender identity in records, a policy change intended to be more inclusive of transgender Americans. (Medina, 10/19)
Stat: Large Insurer Decides To Cover Prescription Digital Therapies 
A large commercial insurer’s decision to cover a controversial class of software-based treatments for psychiatric and other conditions could prove to be a landmark moment in the development of these so-called prescription digital therapeutics, which until now had been unable to secure coverage from insurers skeptical that the new technologies are as effective as their makers claim. (Aguilar, 10/19)
Modern Healthcare: Sutter Health Agrees To Settlement For Lab Test Billing
Sutter Health has agreed to pay more than $13 million to settle allegations of improper billing practices, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California. (Hudson, 10/19)
Modern Healthcare: National Academy Of Medicine Issues Report On Health Worker Burnout
The National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being, released Wednesday, details the need for healthcare leaders, insurers, educators and government agencies to work together to reduce administrative burdens and the strain healthcare workers face on the job. (Devereaux, 10/19)
The New York Times: These Doctors Admit They Don’t Want Patients With Disabilities 
The doctors also explained why they could be so eager to get rid of these patients, focusing on the shrinking amount of time doctors are allotted to spend with individual patients. “Seeing patients at a 15-minute clip is absolutely ridiculous,” one doctor said. “To have someone say, ‘Well we’re still going to see those patients with mild to moderate disability in those time frames’ — it’s just unreasonable and it’s unacceptable to me.” (Kolata, 10/19)
Axios: Cardiac Care Is Affected By Provider Racism, Study Finds
Black patients were less likely to be referred for and receive heart pumps and transplants than white patients, according to a new study. It's another sign of systemic bias within the health system that could limit access to lifesaving care for vulnerable populations. (Dreher, 10/19)
USA Today: CDC Study: Antihistamines May Play Deadly Role In Opioid Epidemic
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified approximately 92,000 drug overdose deaths in 43 states and Washington, D.C., between 2019 and 2020, and found at least 18% involved or tested positive for antihistamines. (Rodriguez, 10/19)
The Mercury News: Matthew Perry Given 2% Chance Of Survival After Opioid Use Led To Coma
In a new interview with People, ahead of the publication of his memoir, the 53-year-old Perry reveals that this crisis was far more grave than previously indicated. Perry explained that his colon burst due to opioid overuse. He ended up in a coma for two weeks and was given little chance of survival. (Ross, 10/19)
Axios: "Voice Biomarker" Tech Analyzes Your Voice For Signs Of Depression
Software that analyzes snippets of your speech to identify mental health problems is rapidly making its way into call centers, medical clinics and telehealth platforms. (Kingson, 10/20)
The Washington Post: Running Doesn’t Wreck Your Knees. It Strengthens Them.
Almost all runners, whether veterans or newcomers, poky or fleet, youthful or antique, share one bond. Someone soon will warn us that we are ruining our knees. “A lot of people think that running is bad” for knees and other joints, said Jean-Francois Esculier, a clinical professor of physical therapy at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, who studies running. But accumulating research, including studies from Esculier and others, generally shows the reverse. (Reynolds, 10/19)
Detroit Free Press: Study: Michigan's Manufacturing Base Increases Worker Risk For ALS
If you’re a welder, work on a production line or have job that involves exposure to metals, solvents or pesticides, you could be at higher risk for developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the deadly neurological disease also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to research from the University of Michigan. (Jordan Shamus, 10/19)
Billings Gazette: Military Members Could Lose Access To Local Pharmacies, MT Officials Call For Reversal
Active and retired Montana military members could face hours of windshield time to secure life-saving medications because of a reduction of local pharmacies covered by their health insurance, state and federal officials have warned. (Larson, 10/19)
CNN: Boy Dies From Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba That May Have Been Contracted At Lake Mead
A boy has died after being infected by a rare brain-eating amoeba, which officials believe he may have been exposed to at Lake Mead, the Southern Nevada Health District announced Wednesday. The juvenile may have encountered the organism, called Naegleria fowleri, in the park’s Kingman Wash area, located on the Arizona side of the lake near Hoover Dam, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area said in a release. (Wolfe, 10/19)
CIDRAP: Two New Multistate Salmonella Outbreaks Linked To Bearded Dragons
The CDC yesterday said it and its state health partners are investigating two multistate Salmonella outbreaks linked to pet bearded dragons. The outbreaks involve two different subtypes that have sickened 23 people in 15 states since the end of March. (10/19)
CNN: The Black Death Is Still Affecting The Human Immune System Today
Analysis of centuries-old DNA from both victims and survivors of the Black Death has identified key genetic differences that helped people survive the plague, according to a study published in the journal Nature. These genetic differences continue to shape human immune systems today, with genes that once conferred protection against the plague now linked to a greater vulnerability to autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis, the study said.(Hunt, 10/19)
Axios: WHO Switches To One-Dose Cholera Vaccine Strategy As Outbreaks Spread
The World Health Organization will temporarily switch from a two-dose cholera vaccine regimen to a one-dose approach due to an "unprecedented rise in cholera outbreaks worldwide" and a shortage in vaccine supply, the global health body said Wednesday. (Gottbrath, 10/19)
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Awaiting Voters’ Decision on Abortion, When Medicine and Politics Collide
Family Caregivers Find Support on #dementia TikTok
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