What Happened, What You Missed: April 24-28, 2023


KFF: Up to 24 Million Could Lose Medicaid Coverage

Between 8 and 24 million Americans could be disenrolled from Medicaid following the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), according to a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The PHE suspended the Medicaid redetermination process, which states use to determine eligibility for Medicaid coverage. KFF’s analysis drew on estimates from a recent survey of state Medicaid officials conducted with Georgetown University. The redetermination process, which started April 1, will vary across the states due to different policy choices state officials have made as well as a variation in state administrative structures. It remains unknown how many people who lose Medicaid coverage will transition to other health coverage or become uninsured.

FDA Approves New ALS Treatment

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved via the accelerated approval pathway a new drug called Qalsody for a rare form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Developed by Biogen, Inc., the drug works to reduce levels of a blood protein associated with brain injury. Due to its accelerated approval status, Qalsody must undergo more research on its effectiveness in order to remain on the market. The FDA estimated there are fewer than 500 patients in the US with the form of ALS that the Biogen drug treats. According to Biogen, the drug could be available to ALS patients as soon as next week.

Kaiser Permanente to Acquire Geisinger to form New Nonprofit

Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday plans to acquire Pennsylvania nonprofit hospital system Geisinger Health to form a new nonprofit value-based health care organization. Known as Risant Health, the new entity will operate independently from Kaiser Permanente’s care and coverage model. The acquisition of Geisinger’s is part of an overarching strategy at Kaiser Permanente to obtain similar nonprofit, value-oriented community-based health systems in the coming years. In a recent interview, the company said it plans to invest $5 billion into Risant over the next five years and expects to add half a dozen additional systems to the new organization. The acquisition follows a growing trend of hospital and provider consolidation as hospitals continue to face financial strain related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CDC: Smoking Down while E-Cigarette Use Continues to Rise

A recent survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paints a mixed picture on the state of tobacco use in the nation. Between 2020 and 2022, the percentage of Americans who reported they are smokers dropped from 12.5% to 11%. However, the e-cigarette use rose from 4.5% to 6% over the same period. While use of combustible tobacco such as cigarettes has declined in recent decades, e-cigarette use has steadily grown in recent years, particularly among teens and adolescents. According to the CDC, smoking is a major cause of preventable disease, disability, and death. The agency also says that 9 in 10 lung cancer deaths were caused by smoking.

ICYMI: A Look Back on Jerry Springer’s Career in Politics

While Jerry Springer, who died this week at age 79, is best-known as a talk show host, his time in politics is often overlooked. Shortly after graduating from law school, Springer took a job with Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1968. A year following a failed bid for Congress, Springer was elected to the Cincinnati City Council in 1971. In 1977, the city council elected Springer for a one-year term to serve as mayor due to an unconventional election system that has since been altered. Springer also sought the Democratic nomination for Governor of Ohio in 1982, and he considered running for US Senate in 2000 and 2004 before ultimately deciding to back out due to negative associations with his eponymous television show. Additionally, Springer considered joining the Ohio gubernatorial race in 2018, but he decided against it due to his age.

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