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The Debt Ceiling & Impact on Healthcare

Lawmakers and White House officials spared health programs from substantial spending cuts in a last-minute agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. President Joe Biden named Mandy Cohen, a former North Carolina health director who worked in the Obama administration, to be the next director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though she lacks academic credentials in infectious diseases, Cohen enters the job with a reputation as someone who can listen and be listened to by both Democrats and Republicans.

Some Key Takeaways:

The removal of many Americans from the Medicaid program, post-public health emergency, is going as expected: With hundreds of thousands already stripped from the rolls, most have been deemed ineligible not because they don’t meet the criteria but because they failed to file the proper paperwork in time. Nearly 95 million people were on Medicaid before the unwinding began.

Eastern and now southern parts of the United States are experiencing hazardous air quality conditions as wildfire smoke drifts from Canada, raising the urgency surrounding conversations about the health effects of climate change.

The drugmaker Merck & Co. sued the federal government this week, challenging its ability to press drugmakers into negotiations over what Medicare will pay for some of the most expensive drugs. Experts predict Merck’s coercion argument could fall flat because drugmakers voluntarily choose to participate in Medicare, though it is unlikely this will be the last lawsuit over the issue.

In abortion news, some doctors are pushing back against the Indiana medical board’s decision to reprimand and fine an OB-GYN who spoke out about providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. The doctors argue the decision could set a bad precedent and suppress doctors’ efforts to communicate with the public about health issues.

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