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Healthcare Roundup: Legal Snag for KS Telemedicine Abortion Ban, Potential $3.7T Economic Cost of Long Covid & More

December 02, 2022

Judge Blocks KS Law Banning Telemedicine Abortions

A judge in Topeka, Kansas issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of a 2011 Kansas law banning telemedicine abortions on a women’s clinic in Wichita, pending a ruling in the associated case. Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson’s order comes six months after the Kansas Court of Appeals reversed her prior denial of a preliminary injunction, and her order doesn’t do much more than state she’s bound by the appellate court’s mandate. But it also suggests the telemedicine abortion ban could be declared unconstitutional, as occurred in another similar case. (TOPEKA CAPITAL-JOURNAL, BLOOMBERG)

Harvard Economist Estimates Long Covid Economic Cost at $3.7T

Long Covid, chronic illness stemming from a Covid-19 infection, could cost the U.S. economy $3.7 trillion, roughly the total economic cost of the Great Recession, according to a report from Harvard economist David Cutler. That total is $2.6 trillion higher than the $1.1 trillion Cutler estimated in October 2020, largely due to the “greater prevalence of long Covid than we had guessed at the time,” his report states. Reduced quality of life makes up the bulk ($2.2 trillion) of the revised total, with the rest coming from reduced earnings ($997 billion) and increased medical expenses ($528 billion). (CNBC, HARVARD UNIVERSITY)

OH House Okays Decriminalization of Fentanyl Test Strips

The Ohio House passed a bill (HB 456) that would legalize the possession of test strips used to detect the presence of fentanyl in illicit drugs. Experts have warned that the powerful synthetic opioid has entered the drug supply, causing fatal overdoses. The test strips are an inexpensive way for people to screen their drugs for the opioid. (CLEVELAND.COM, OHIO CAPITAL JOURNAL, STATE NET)

TX Doctors File Third Challenge to Surprise Billing Act

The Texas Medical Association has filed a lawsuit challenging parts of the final rule implementing provisions of the federal No Surprises Act of 2021, which banned surprise medical bills. The group contends the provision of the rule calling for the consideration of qualifying payment amounts in arbitrations between insurers and providers over out-of-network charges favors insurers too much. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, is the third the group has filed in connection with implementation of the surprise billing ban. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

CMS Reminds Hospitals of Duty to Ensure Safe Workplaces

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memorandum reminding hospitals of their responsibility to keep both patients and healthcare workers safe from physical violence at their facilities. The agency warned that it would “continue to enforce the regulatory expectations” that healthcare facilities prioritize workplace safety and mentioned three cases in which it had cited hospitals for failing to do so. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

State Lawmakers Focused on Prescription Drug Policies Supporting Patients in 2022

Lawmakers in 26 states passed over 70 bills dealing with prescription drugs this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The general theme of the legislation, NCSL said, was “policies to support patients,” including reforms of pharmacy benefit manager practices, out-of-pocket cost reductions and reforms of utilization management policies, such as prior authorization. (NCSL)

FDA Grants First Approval for Fecal Transplant Therapy

The Food and Drug Administration granted approval for Switzerland-based Ferring Pharmaceuticals’ fecal transplant-based therapy, Rebyota, for the treatment of recurrent Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile infections, which can cause life-threatening diarrhea. Fecal microbiota treatments have been the standard of care for the condition for some time, but the FDA has classified such treatments as investigational. Rebyota is the first therapy to receive FDA approval for use in the United States. (REUTERS)

OH Bill Restricting Transgender Surgeries on Minors on Hold until 2023

A bill introduced in Ohio last year (HB 454) that would prohibit doctors from performing gender reassignment surgeries on minors has been put on hold until next year. Although a quarter of the entire chamber have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, its lead sponsor wants to reintroduce it in the next session rather than rush to pass it in the current lame-duck one. (CLEVELAND.COM, STATE NET)

STD Contact Tracers in IA Turning to Dating Apps

Contact tracers in Linn County, Iowa have found that dating apps like Grindr and Snapchat are a more effective way of notifying individuals they may have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection by someone they met on the sites than the traditional method of calling them on the phone or more recent alternatives like texting or messaging them on Facebook. STIs, or STDs, have surged nationwide, with reported cases of syphilis and gonorrhea up 7 percent and 10 percent respectively between 2019 and 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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