👶 The Million Dollar Baby is having two of her own! Hilary Swank announced today that she’s pregnant with twins.
Today in health care, new projections from the Commonwealth Fund found that the bivalent BA.4/BA.5 COVID booster could prevent tens of thousands of deaths and billion of medical costs.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, I’m Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
COVID boosters could save 90K lives
The omicron-specific bivalent COVID-19 boosters could potentially prevent tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. and save billions of dollars in health care costs if a successful immunization campaign is carried out, according to new research.
New projections released by the Commonwealth Fund on Wednesday showed that roughly 90,000 deaths due to the coronavirus could be prevented if 80 percent of eligible people receive the updated booster by the end of this year.
- The foundation’s projection also estimated more than 930,000 hospitalizations, $56 billion in medical costs and nearly 26 million infections could also be averted if a widespread, accelerated vaccination campaign was carried out between October and December.
- “As population immunity wanes and new variants capable of evading protection from earlier vaccines and natural infection continue to emerge, surges in hospitalizations and deaths during the upcoming fall and winter are increasingly likely,” the Commonwealth Fund said in a statement.
Only about half of the U.S. population has received their first boosters and only about two-thirds of the population has completed the primary two-dose regimen needed to be eligible for the bivalent booster.
September polling data from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only about a third of adults said they planned on getting the updated booster, and about 5 percent said they had already received it.
Governor signs bill barring gender-affirming care
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) on Tuesday signed into law a measure blocking one of the state’s largest hospital systems from receiving federal funds if it continues to offer gender-affirming care to transgender youth.
The bill signed Tuesday was passed last week by state lawmakers during a special session to appropriate the state’s $1.87 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
Under the proposal by two Republican state House members and two Republican senators, University of Oklahoma (OU) hospitals will only be permitted to receive $108 million in ARPA funds — including nearly $40 million earmarked for a pediatric mental health facility — if Oklahoma Children’s Hospital ceases to provide gender-affirming care.
On Tuesday, Stitt said signing the bill was only the first step toward shielding children from “permanent gender transition surgeries and therapies.”
- “It is wildly inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be used for condoning, promoting, or performing these types of controversial procedures on healthy children,” Stitt said in a statement.
- “We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening all across our nation, and as governor I will not allow life-altering transition surgeries on minor children in the state of Oklahoma,” said Stitt.
The Oklahoma governor called on the legislature to enact a total ban on gender-affirming care for minors when it reconvenes in February. Some state legislators had urged Stitt to call another special session for the purpose of passing legislation to outlaw such care for youth.
9 IN 10 LABEL MENTAL HEALTH A CRISIS IN US: SURVEY
A new poll from CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that 9 out of
10 adults believe that there is a mental health crisis in the U.S. The organizations surveyed about 2,000 adults this past summer.
- More than half of respondents said that children and adolescent mental health is in crisis.
- Regarding their own mental health, more than 20 percent of respondents described their mental health as “fair” or “poor.”
- According to the poll, about half of the people said that there was a severe mental health crisis within their family, which included “in-person treatment for family members who were a threat to themselves or others, or family members who engaged in self-harming behaviors,” according to CNN.
This subset of people included a larger proportion of adults under 30 years old, people who identify as LGBT and people whose annual income was less than $40,000. Out of this group, 60 percent say that they are not able to get the care that they need for their mental health.
This survey is in alignment with other work that suggests mental health is trending worse. A study from earlier this year found that insurance claims for children and adolescents for mental health reasons rose during the pandemic.
ALMOST 3 IN 4 MARYLAND VOTERS FAVOR LEGALIZING MARIJUANA: POLL
An overwhelming majority of Maryland voters said in a new Washington Post-University of Maryland survey that they are in favor of legalizing marijuana ahead of November’s midterm election.
- The poll, published on Wednesday, found that 73 percent of respondents said they’ll support the proposed legalization, while 23 percent of those surveyed oppose it.
- Eighty-seven percent of respondents under the age of 40 support legalizing weed in the state, according to the poll, as do 77 percent of African American participants and 70 percent of white ones.
- Eighty-one percent of registered Independent voters in Maryland support the proposed referendum, along with 78 percent of registered Democrats and
53 percent of Republicans.
Maryland could become the 20th state, alongside Washington, D.C., to legalize adult recreational weed use if state voters pass the measure.
The proposed referendum will allow residents to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of the recreational drug and will create cannabis business assistance and community reinvestment and repair funds.
Judge orders Texas AG to testify in abortion lawsuit
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to testify in an abortion lawsuit, reversing course after Paxton was accused of fleeing to avoid a subpoena.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman — who initially granted Paxton’s request to quash the subpoena over its last-minute nature — ordered the Texas attorney general to testify after it was made clear that there were several attempts to serve him with the subpoena in advance.
On one occasion, a process server said the Texas attorney general ran away from him to avoid the subpoena.
- Pitman said in Tuesday’s order that the court originally granted the request on the assumption that Paxton “had made candid representations.”
- Upon learning more about the attempts to serve Paxton, the judge reconsidered his previous order. Pitman rejected the attorney general’s request this time, noting that he has unique, firsthand knowledge of his own policies.
- “Paxton has inserted himself into this dispute by repeatedly tweeting and giving interviews about the Trigger Ban,” Pitman wrote in Tuesday’s order. “Having added his voice many times—not just in a press release or official statement but in intentional ways designed to reach Texans from within his role as Attorney General—Paxton alone is capable of explaining his thoughts and statements,” Pitman said in his order.
How we got here: The group that filed suit in the case — which comprises several nonprofit abortion funds and an OB-GYN — requested Paxton’s testimony to clarify his previous statements about the enforcement of Texas’s trigger law in regard to out-of-state abortions.
After the abortion funds sued Paxton in August, claiming that his statements have infringed on their abilities to facilitate out-of-state abortions, Paxton responded that there is “no imminent threat of enforcement.” However, he also said his office views out-of-state abortions as illegal.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- Errors have plagued insurance directories of doctors. The government wants to clean them up with its own (Stat)
- These LSD-based drugs seem to help mice with anxiety and depression — without the trip (NPR)
- Medical care alone won’t halt the spread of diabetes, scientists say (The New York Times)
STATE BY STATE
- Addiction experts fear the fallout if California voters legalize sports betting (Kaiser Health News)
- Medicare cuts concerning to Ky. home health leaders (Kentucky Today)
- What do pregnant women die of in Louisiana? Accidental overdoses, heart conditions top the list (NOLA.com)
THE HILL OP-EDS
Rethinking birth control and pregnancy planning as a national priority
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.