Health Care — Landmark drug pricing legislation signed into law
This is not a repeat of the famous Michael Crichton novel, or movie that bears its name. A “de-extinction” CRISPR startup is hoping to get justice for the Tasmanian tiger by bringing it back from the dead. Life, uh, finds a way.
Today in health care, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, a measure aimed at lowering prescription drug prices, among many other sweeping provisions.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.
Biden signs expansive health, climate bill
President Biden signed into law a sweeping bill to lower health care costs and address climate change on Tuesday, sealing a legislative victory more than a year in the making.
The $740 billion bill was significantly slimmed down from the original $3.5 trillion package some envisioned last fall, but nevertheless represents an undeniable win for Biden and Democrats in Congress. It includes some of Biden’s key campaign promises and makes the largest investment in federal climate programs in history.
“With unwavering conviction, commitment, and patience, progress does come,” Biden said in the State Dining Room as he prepared to sign the legislation. “And when it does, like today, people’s lives are made better and the future becomes brighter and a nation can be transformed.”
Long-sought drug pricing victory for Democrats: The bill will allow Medicare to negotiate prices for some drugs, giving Democrats a victory over the pharmaceutical industry that has long opposed such measures.
It will put a cap on insulin prices in Medicare, and penalize drug companies that raise prices higher than the rate of inflation for Medicare drugs.
Key senator: After the ceremony, Biden gave the pen he used to sign the bill to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Officials want to offer hearing aids over the counter
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday finalized a rule allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter, a move that would help nearly 30 million people.
The Biden administration touted the announcement as helping make hearing aids more affordable.
Timeline: Hearing aids available over the counter could be available as soon as mid-October in retail and drug stores, the administration said.
“As early as mid-October, Americans will be able to purchase more affordable hearing aids over the counter at pharmacies and stores across the country,” President Biden said in a statement.
- The FDA noted that Congress passed legislation on over-the-counter hearing aids in 2017, but it was not fully implemented until now.
- The rule allows people with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase a hearing aid over the counter “without the need for a medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist,” the FDA said.
Bipartisan backing: “Five years after our bipartisan Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act became law, consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss will finally have access to affordable over-the-counter hearing aids,” Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a joint statement.
POLL: MOST SAY THEY DIDN’T TAKE PRECAUTIONS BEFORE VACATIONS
Few Americans who reported taking a vacation in the past three months took extra steps to avoid a COVID-19 infection prior to their trip, according to a new Axios-Ipsos poll.
The poll found that exactly half of the respondents reported taking a vacation or trip in the past three months.
- Of those respondents, 24 percent said they wore a mask indoors more frequently before the trip. Twenty-seven percent said they limited dining and other indoor events, while 22 percent said they limited seeing people outside of their household before their trips.
- Nearly half of respondents — 45 percent — said they washed their hands more frequently before their vacations, and roughly a quarter — 26 percent — said they took an at-home COVID-19 test. About 17 percent said they worked from home more frequently.
Most respondents said taking a vacation does not pose a major risk to their health or well-being. Just 11 percent said doing so poses a large risk, while more than half said it poses a small or no risk.
Air travel has surged in recent months to the highest level seen since the start of the pandemic. More than 2 million passengers are passing through the nation’s airports on an average day, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
Reported COVID-19 cases have declined in recent days after peaking at roughly 130,000 daily cases in mid-July, although the true count is likely larger due to at-home positive test results that aren’t reported to health authorities.
DOG TESTS POSITIVE FOR MONKEYPOX
medical journal has published evidence of the first suspected case of human-to-pet transmission of the monkeypox virus.
A dog living with two men in France who were infected with the virus began exhibiting symptoms 12 days after they did, according to The Lancet. The 4-year-old male Italian greyhound, which had no previous medical disorders, tested positive after showing symptoms such as lesions and pustules on its abdomen.
Through DNA testing, researchers determined the viruses infecting the two men and the dog were both monkeypox.
Since they became symptomatic, the two men had kept their dog away from other people and other pets but had slept with the animal in their bed.
“Our findings should prompt debate on the need to isolate pets from monkeypox virus-positive individuals,” the report reads.
What health officials have said: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned against possible human-to-pet transmission in its monkeypox guidance.
“Infected animals can spread Monkeypox virus to people, and it is possible that people who are infected can spread Monkeypox virus to animals through close contact,” the guidance reads.
First lady tests positive for COVID-19
First lady Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 while on vacation with President Biden and other family members in South Carolina, the White House announced Tuesday.
- “After testing negative for COVID-19 on Monday during her regular testing cadence, the First Lady began to develop cold-like symptoms late in the evening. She tested negative again on a rapid antigen test, but a PCR test came back positive,” Elizabeth Alexander, the first lady’s communications director, said in a statement.
Another BA.5 breakthrough: The first lady is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots. She has mild symptoms, the White House said, and will start taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug that has proven effective at preventing serious cases of COVID-19.
- “She is currently staying at a private residence in South Carolina and will return home after she receives two consecutive negative COVID tests,” Alexander said in a statement.
The president tested negative on Tuesday after taking a rapid test, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted.
“Consistent with CDC guidance because he is a close contact of the First Lady, he will mask for 10 days when indoors and in close proximity to others. We will also increase the President’s testing cadence and report those results,” Jean-Pierre tweeted.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- “A hunger games contest”: how unforced errors hobbled America’s monkeypox response (Vanity Fair)
- Monkeypox misinformation spreading faster than the virus, experts say (NBC News)
- New ‘candy’ e-cigs catch fire after U.S. regulators stamp out Juul’s flavors (Reuters)
- Pregnancy tests are routine before many surgical procedures. But Dobbs has raised the stakes of a positive result (Stat)
STATE BY STATE
- WVa governor: Voters shouldn’t decide abortion access issue (Associated Press)
- Buy a rural hospital for $100? Investors pick up struggling institutions for pennies (NPR)
- Even in ‘bull’s-eye’ New England region for Lyme, disease often flies under radar (New Hampshire Public Radio)
THE HILL OPEDS
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.