KHN’s “What’s the Health?”: The FDA Goes After Nicotine

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week launched a crackdown on smoking and vaping – ordering the Juul device off the market and announcing its intent to require makers of cigarettes and other tobacco products to reduce the amount of nicotine in it.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has not announced a ruling in a high-risk abortion case, but said private health insurers could limit the amount of dialysis care they provide, forcing some patients into Medicare.

This week’s panel members are Julie Rovner of KHN, Joan Kenin of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politics, and Rachel Kors of Stat.

Among the points learned from this week’s episode:

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered Juul to remove e-cigarettes from the U.S. market because the company’s enforcement of the agency did not provide enough information for regulators to determine whether Juul poses a risk to users. The US Food and Drug Administration said there are concerns about the risks of some harmful chemicals leaching from the pods. Juul is expected to appeal the FDA’s decision to the courts.
  • Juul helped spark an explosion in e-cigarette use when it came on the market, and officials originally thought it would help smokers seeking to kick their cigarette habit. But the industry’s use of flavored tobacco and extensive marketing helped drive up tobacco use among teens and led to a regulatory crackdown.
  • The Supreme Court ruled this week that employers may choose to make all dialysis treatments out of the network in workers’ health plans, a decision likely to prompt many patients to seek Medicare coverage for their kidney problems. The decision was a disappointment for dialysis providers, who receive less Medicare than they normally get from private insurance plans.
  • The decision leaves many details unresolved and there may be more legal battles to come. Dialysis providers may also turn to Congress to create laws that prevent employers from such moves.
  • The Senate is likely to consider a bill proposed by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jane Shaheen (DN.H.) that seeks to lower the cost of insulin. The bill is much friendlier to drugmakers than another measure passed by the House this year. The Senate bill seeks to get drug makers to offer insulin at the price they received from Medicare in 2021 by allowing them to bypass rebates and other costly subsidies paid to administrators of pharmacy benefits and insurance plans. It will also limit out-of-pocket costs for insured consumers to $35.
  • As the Senate approaches a vote on gun safety legislation, other efforts are underway to find more funding for programs to help deal with mental health issues. These efforts can aid campaigns to reduce suicides and domestic violence, which are often also associated with guns.
  • The House is making efforts to pass appropriations bills, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ initial funding measure again does not include the so-called Hyde Amendment, a longstanding policy named after the late Representative Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) that prohibits the use of federal funds for most abortions. . Previous efforts by the House of Representatives to abandon the Hyde Amendment did not justify the Senate’s opinion.
  • President Joe Biden has nominated Arati Prabhakar, the former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She will replace Eric Lander, who was forced to resign after reports of employee harassment.
  • Prabhakar appears to be a non-controversial option that comes with a great deal of management experience. Its responsibilities will likely include overseeing epidemiological planning, efforts to form a new biomedical research agency called ARPA-H, and strategies to advance cancer prevention.

Also this week, Rovner gave an interview to Noam N. KHN’s Levy on KHN-NPR’s new project on medical debt, called “Diagnosis: Debt.”

Plus, for extra credit, panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories for the week that they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: AP’sAt the Westminster Dog Show, a new focus on vet careWritten by Jennifer Peltz

Joan Kenin:’sBack to 40: How to protect farm workers from heat-related kidney diseaseWritten by Nancy Everett

Rachel Kors: tags “Facebook receives sensitive medical information from hospital websitesBy Todd Feathers, Simon Fondry-Titler, Angie Waller and Soria Matu

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