What Happened, What You Missed: October 10-14


Administration Finalizes Rule to Fix “Family Glitch” 

On Tuesday, the Biden administration issued a final rule to close the “family glitch,” a loophole that blocked family members from receiving Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax credits if a member of their household had access to another source of minimum essential coverage, including employer-sponsored plans. According to the White House, 1 million Americans will gain coverage or see their insurance become more affordable as the result of the rule.  While stakeholders have been largely supportive over the rule, some questioned whether the administration had the authority to make the changes.  The final rule goes into effect in November.

Walmart Steps into Health Care Research

Retail giant Walmart launched the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute (WHRI) on Tuesday to add more medical services to its stores and address health disparities.  The new institute will be developing new interventions and medications that can impact underrepresented communities like seniors, rural residents, women, and minority populations.  To enhance clinical trial diversity, the WHRI will initially focus on including members of underserved communities in its studies on treatments for chronic conditions.  According to Walmart, about 4,000 of its stores are located in underserved communities.  The announcement comes amid a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) effort to increase racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials.

FDA, CDC Approve Bivalent Booster for Kids 5-11

Both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed off on the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster doses from Pfizer and Moderna for children ages five to 11 earlier this week.  The bivalent boosters, which target both the original iteration of COVID-19 and the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants, were made available to all US adults last month.  Only 40% of US children ages five to 11, who have already gotten their two primary doses, are eligible for the booster.  While children are far less likely than adults to face severe consequences from COVID-19, hospitalization rates in children have increased during previous surges, and federal health officials are urging patents to get their kids vaccinated or boosted ahead of a potential new COVID-19 surge in the late fall or winter.

March of Dimes: Maternity Care “Deserts” Are Increasing

The March of Dimes painted a sobering picture of the state of maternal health care in the US in a new report that found nearly seven million women of childbearing age and half-a-million babies live in maternity care “deserts,” meaning they lack obstetric hospitals or birth centers.  More so, the report found the number of maternity care deserts has grown 2% since the release of the last report in 2020.  The report also found that racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in maternity care deserts.  For example, about a quarter of Native American babies and 17% of Black babes are born in areas with limited or no maternity care services.  As policy solutions, the March of Dimes recommends that Congress passes legislation that will extend Medicaid postpartum coverage from 60 days to a year and expand telehealth services to bridge gaps in health care.

ICYMI: Library of Congress Kicks Off Fall Concert Series

If you’re in DC and you’re bummed about missing Jazz in the Garden this summer, don’t worry there are still plenty of opportunities to catch free live music at the Library of Congress Fall Concert Series, which officially starts tonight at the Thomas Jefferson Building.  The inaugural concert will feature Greek, English, Italian, Portuguese, French, and Japanese folk songs.  Piano and opera performances will also be on deck throughout the fall.

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