From The New York Times

How Ballot Initiatives Changed the Game on Medicaid Expansion

August 4, 2020

It was the middle of 2016, and Obamacare supporters were stuck.

Nineteen states were refusing to participate in the health law’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to low-income Americans. States run by Democrats eagerly signed up for the program, lured in part by generous federal funding.

It was the middle of 2016, and Obamacare supporters were stuck.

Nineteen states were refusing to participate in the health law’s Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage to low-income Americans. States run by Democrats eagerly signed up for the program, lured in part by generous federal funding.

Most Republican governors and legislatures had little interest in expanding the reach of the Affordable Care Act, and declined the money.

“People were frustrated,” said Chris Jennings, a longtime health care strategist who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations. “We were left with either doing nothing or finding a new solution. And then these guys came up with this referendum strategy….”

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‘Amazing, Isn’t It?’ Long-Sought Blood Test for Alzheimer’s in Reach

July 28, 2020

A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists reported on Tuesday, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable and widely available.

The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s instead of another condition. And it identified signs of the degenerative, deadly disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s, according to research published in JAMA and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference….

A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists reported on Tuesday, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable and widely available.

The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer’s instead of another condition. And it identified signs of the degenerative, deadly disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer’s, according to research published in JAMA and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference….

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The U.S. Commits to Buying Millions of Vaccine Doses. Why That’s Unusual.

July 22, 2020

The Trump administration’s commitment on Wednesday to purchase 100 million doses of a not-yet-finished vaccine is unusual in two ways. The private sector buys most vaccines in the United States, not the government.

The drug industry has lobbied to keep things that way; private payers usually pay more for vaccines than the government does.

The Trump administration’s commitment on Wednesday to purchase 100 million doses of a not-yet-finished vaccine is unusual in two ways. The private sector buys most vaccines in the United States, not the government.

The drug industry has lobbied to keep things that way; private payers usually pay more for vaccines than the government does.

And when the government does buy vaccines — typically on behalf of low-income children — it is almost always vaccines that have already received safety and efficacy approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

“This is not at all typical, but I think it’s a great thing,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “We’re in a public health crisis, and it’s great the government is going to be providing a vaccine for Americans….”

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First Coronavirus Vaccine Tested in Humans Shows Early Promise

July 14, 2020

An experimental coronavirus vaccine made by the biotech company Moderna provoked a promising immune response against the virus and appeared safe in the first 45 people who received it, researchers reported on Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Moderna’s vaccine, developed with researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans, and the company announced on Tuesday that large Phase 3 tests of it would begin on July 27, involving 30,000 people. Half of the participants will be a control group who will receive placebos.

An experimental coronavirus vaccine made by the biotech company Moderna provoked a promising immune response against the virus and appeared safe in the first 45 people who received it, researchers reported on Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Moderna’s vaccine, developed with researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans, and the company announced on Tuesday that large Phase 3 tests of it would begin on July 27, involving 30,000 people. Half of the participants will be a control group who will receive placebos.

The trial will need to show that those who were vaccinated were significantly less likely to contract the virus than those who got a placebo. The fastest way to get results is to test the vaccine in a “hot spot” with many cases, and the study is looking for people at high risk because of their locations or circumstances….

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Breakthrough Drug for Covid-19 May Be Risky for Mild Cases

June 24, 2020

Scientists in Britain announced a major breakthrough in the battle against the coronavirus last week, reporting they had found the first drug to reduce deaths among critically ill Covid-19 patients.

The results were first made public in a sparsely detailed news release. Now the full study, neither peer reviewed nor published yet, has been posted online, and it holds a surprise.

The drug — a cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone — does seem to help patients in dire straits, the data suggest. But it also may be risky for patients with milder illness, and the timing of the treatment is critical.

Scientists in Britain announced a major breakthrough in the battle against the coronavirus last week, reporting they had found the first drug to reduce deaths among critically ill Covid-19 patients.

The results were first made public in a sparsely detailed news release. Now the full study, neither peer reviewed nor published yet, has been posted online, and it holds a surprise.

The drug — a cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone — does seem to help patients in dire straits, the data suggest. But it also may be risky for patients with milder illness, and the timing of the treatment is critical.

The drug “may harm some patients, and we’re not entirely sure which patients those are,” said Dr. Samuel Brown, an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, who was not involved in the research….

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