Health News Roundup

U.S. plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency, and more in this week’s roundup

To get these headlines delivered to your inbox every week, sign up for our weekly health news roundup.

U.S. plans to end public health emergency for COVID in May
Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland, The New York Times, Jan. 30
The Biden administration plans to let the COVID-19 public health emergency expire in May, a sign that federal officials believe the pandemic has moved into a new, less dire phase. Ending the emergency will prompt complex changes in the cost of COVID tests and treatments that have been free for the last three years. Charges that people will face will vary depending on what state they live in and whether they have private insurance, Medicare coverage, Medicaid coverage, or no health insurance.

It’s ‘telehealth vs. no care’: Doctors say Congress risks leaving patients vulnerable
Sarah Jane Tribble, Kaiser Health News, Jan. 31
The $1.7 trillion spending package Congress passed in December included a two-year extension of key telehealth provisions. But it also signaled political reluctance to make the payment changes permanent. At issue are questions about the value and cost of telehealth, who will benefit from its use, and whether audio and video appointments should continue to be reimbursed at the same rate as face-to-face care.

MRI scans reveal disparate impact of poverty and other ‘toxic stress’ on brains of Black children
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, Feb. 1
Stressful experiences during early childhood – particularly economic strife – appear to act as a toxic stressor that can alter regions of the brain tied to the processing of stress and trauma. A new study finds that Black children were more impacted than white children, largely because of the higher amounts of poverty and structural inequities their families face.

CT’s largest prison facility was quietly locked down amid COVID spike: ‘It takes a toll’
Alex Putterman, CT Insider, Jan. 29
COVID-19 cases in CT prisons have spiked this winter, resulting in a multi-week lockdown at the state’s largest facility. As has been the case at other phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, activists say prisons’ tight quarters make for an unsafe environment, while correctional officers say the virus has contributed to unsustainable staffing levels and difficult working conditions.

Health care spending in the U.S. is nearly double that of other wealthy nations, report says
Chia-Yi Hou, The Hill, Jan. 31
new report from The Commonwealth Fund finds that while health care spending in the U.S. was far greater than other wealthy countries, overall health is worse. Using data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the researchers found that outcomes for life expectancy at birth, obesity, and rate of avoidable deaths in the U.S. were all poorer when compared to other countries.