Health Care

Week ahead: Health officials race to contain Ebola

World leaders are pledging billions of dollars in the fight against Ebola, but there are no signs the disease is slowing in the hardest-hit areas.

The World Health Organization released a frightening update on Friday, calling Ebola “the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.”

{mosads}A total of 6,242 people have been infected and 2,909 people have died, according to the organization, which also warned that the figures “vastly underestimate the true scale of the epidemic.”

“The number of cases continues to grow exponentially. The number of treatment beds is grossly and visibly inadequate. Good supportive clinical care is becoming increasingly difficult to implement,” according to the WHO.

President Obama is pressuring health and security officials across the globe to join the effort, urging them to dedicate any resource they can, from basic supplies to advanced medical technologies.

Obama is also challenging countries to use the momentum surrounding Ebola to prevent future outbreaks. Addressing a group of international leaders on Friday, Obama said every nation should have the capacity to fight infectious disease outbreaks like Ebola, or all countries will be at risk.

“In a world as interconnected as ours, outbreaks anywhere — even in the most remote villages in the most remote corners of the world — have the potential to impact everybody in every nation,” he told the global health security summit on Friday.

There has been some positive news. A second American doctor was declared virus-free this week after he received blood transfusions from another survivor and was injected with the experimental drug, TKM-Ebola.

Two West African countries — Senegal and Nigeria — have successfully fended off an outbreak, reporting no new cases in the last several weeks. 

As the demand for experimental drugs continues to grow, some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies are rising to the challenge. Next week, global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline will begin trials in Mali. It has already tested its drug in the U.S. and Germany.

Congress is also monitoring the situation. Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee have been briefed regularly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the Ebola outbreak during the recess period.

Lawmakers had sent a letter to the HHS requesting details on the government’s response to Ebola — with a Friday deadline. They also announced plans to hold a hearing with high-level officials when they return in November.

At home, 115,000 people could lose their healthcare coverage because the government can’t confirm that they legally live in the U.S.

Initially, 1 million people were in danger of losing their coverage. But after calls, emails and letters from the HHS, most people provided the additional information and are on track to keep their healthcare.

Two weeks ago, HHS officials announced 115,000 people still hadn’t answered the government’s call and would lose their coverage on Sept. 30. A spokesman for the departent said he was unable to provide an updated set of numbers on Friday.

There’s another looming ObamaCare deadline. After Oct. 1, insurers can no longer renew plans that don’t meet certain standards under the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has sought to challenge this law with his “keep your plan” bill, which passed the House last week but stands no chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Philadelphia-area veterans will get the chance to sound off about their medical care at a hearing on Oct. 3. The meeting on the Department of Veterans Affairs’s regional office will take place in New Jersey, hosted by the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

The VA has been back in the news as House Republicans allege that the HHS interfered with an independent auditor’s report. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald requesting a new audit that the Health Department doesn’t get to read in advance.

Which government workers are using their credit cards to pay for gym memberships? The House Oversight’s Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing Oct. 2 on the matter.

PETA will begin running ads around D.C. on Monday urging the National Institutes of Health to end psychological experiments on baby monkeys. Get a sneak preview of the ads here.


Recent stories

First lady to children: ‘Don’t be mad’ over healthier school lunches

US urges global effort to prevent future outbreaks

WebMD received $14M to promote ObamaCare

Study: ObamaCare cut Hispanic uninsured rate

House GOP leaders rebuffed calls for anti-ObamaCare vote from right

Lena Dunham: GOP Senate could affect your sex life

Tags Boehner CDC Ebola John Boehner Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act United States Department of Health and Human Services WHO

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video