Tag: health

Supreme Court: Democrats and Republicans seek hints for how Barrett will rule on health care law

For the second day of Barrett’s questioning in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the health care law was a dominant topic on both sides of the aisle thanks to the looming November case the Supreme Court will hear on a Republican effort to strike down the law.

Both Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the panel’s top Democrat, asked President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee about the legal doctrine of “severability,” or whether the entire law can stand if one part of it is deemed unconstitutional, during Barrett’s second day of questions before the committee on Wednesday.

It’s a concept that could play a key factor in the case from Republican attorneys general and the Trump administration that seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act case next month. They argue the entire law, commonly known as Obamacare, should be struck down because the law’s individual coverage mandate is unconstitutional.

Barrett explained to Feinstein, a California Democrat, that severability was like a game of “Jenga.”

“If you picture severability being like a Jenga game, it’s kind of like, if you pull one out, can you pull it out while it all stands? If you pull two out, will it all stand?” Barrett asked. “Severability is designed to say well would Congress still want the statute to stand even with the provision gone?”

Graham, during his questioning of Barrett, seemed to suggest he thought that the Affordable Care Act could be saved because of severability, saying the doctrine’s “goal is to preserve the statute if that is possible.”

“From a conservative point of view, generally speaking, we want legislative bodies to make laws, not judges,” Graham said, before asking Barrett, “Would it be further true, if you can preserve a statue you try to, if possible?”

“That is true,” Barrett said.

“That’s the law folks,” Graham responded.

The challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care law from Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration has become a central issue in this year’s election in part due to Barrett’s confirmation. Democrats have focused their arguments during Barrett’s confirmation hearings on the way the law has provided care for individuals.

But Senate Republicans, who back the lawsuit to kill the law, have backed away from that implication in the lead-up to Election Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is also up for reelection, said during his debate Monday that “no one believes” the Supreme Court will strike down the entire law.
Graham, who is facing a tough reelection fight this year, raised the severability argument but also launched into another attack on the health care law, “Obamacare is on the ballot.”
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The South Carolina Republican praised Barrett’s record, comparing her to Obama’s nominees Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, calling Barrett the first woman nominated to the high court who is “unashamedly pro-life.”

Just as they did during Tuesday’s lengthy questioning, Democrats sought to pin down Barrett on a number of topics she could hear in the future, including voting

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Cue Health awarded $481 million to scale up production of COVID-19 test: HHS

(Reuters) – The U.S. government has awarded diagnostic testing company Cue Health Inc $481 million to scale up the production of rapid COVID-19 molecular test, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday.



Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York


© Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York

The company will raise the domestic production of COVID-19 test kits to 100,000 per day by March 2021 under the deal and deliver 6 million tests and 30,000 instruments to the government to support its response to the pandemic, the health agency said.

The point-of-care test can detect the novel coronavirus in about 20 minutes with nasal swab samples collected using a Sample Wand from the lower part of the nose, the HHS said.

The system also allows results to be sent to a mobile phone via an app.

The company’s test kit was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June for emergency use in patient care settings under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.

The development of the company’s health platform was supported by funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for a molecular influenza test, starting in 2018, the department said.

BARDA later expanded the collaboration with the company to include the development of Cue’s COVID-19 test, it added.

(Reporting By Mrinalika Roy and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Syneos Health Wins Society for Clinical Research Sites Eagle Award for Fourth Consecutive Year

MORRISVILLE, N.C., Oct. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Syneos Health® (Nasdaq:SYNH), the only fully integrated biopharmaceutical solutions organization, today announced that it was awarded the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS) Eagle Award, sweeping the CRO category for the fourth consecutive year. Presented at SCRS’s Global Site Solutions Summit, the award recognizes the CRO that best exemplifies a site-focused approach to clinical trial management, demonstrating outstanding leadership, professionalism, integrity, passion and dedication to advancing the clinical research profession through strong site partnerships.

“We are honored that sites have consistently selected Syneos Health as their CRO of choice in recent years, pointing to the progress we’ve made in streamlining pain points in the clinical trial process,” said Tara Fitzgerald, President, Clinical Development Services, Syneos Health, who accepted the award on behalf of the company at the Summit. “It’s especially humbling in a year where we’ve been proud to work side-by-side with sites to navigate the challenges of COVID-19, transforming approaches to deliver impact for patients and continuing to unlock data to change lives. We thank our dedicated employees and the investigative sites we work with who continuously strive to improve the clinical development process.”

This year’s winners were selected by investigative sites – nearly 10,000 research sites in 47 countries – who voted for the CRO they believe best demonstrates a strong commitment to site partnerships. Selection criteria included availability of qualified staff to support sites, willingness to collaborate, protocol design and execution, financial consideration and partnering with sites for future work.

“Syneos Health has won the SCRS Eagle Award for three previous years in the CRO category, and this fourth win is in a very different landscape,” said Allyson Small, SCRS COO. “The pandemic disruption stretched operational systems in clinical research, making relationships critically important, with the sites recognizing Syneos Health in particular for their prioritization of the site partnership.”  

Learn more about Syneos Heath’s site and patient engagement programs, including the Company’s Catalyst Site Program that delivers proven predictability in clinical trial delivery for for Early Phase, Oncology, Psychiatry, Vaccine, Ophthalmology and Post-Operative Pain and Pain trials: syneoshealth.com/catalyst

About Syneos Health
Syneos Health (Nasdaq:SYNH) is the only fully integrated biopharmaceutical solutions organization. Our company, including a Contract Research Organization (CRO) and Contract Commercial Organization (CCO), is purpose-built to accelerate customer performance to address modern market realities. Created through the merger of two industry leading companies – INC Research and inVentiv Health – we bring together approximately 24,000 clinical and commercial minds with the ability to support customers in more than 110 countries. Together we share insights, use the latest technologies and apply advanced business practices to speed our customers’ delivery of important therapies to patients. To learn more about how we are shortening the distance from lab to life® visit  syneoshealth.com or subscribe to our podcast.

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Government made mental health and domestic violence worse during COVID-19 pandemic

The U.S. reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected Americans more than the virus itself. It’s been well-documented that large percentages of businesses will fail, including some even in the medical profession due to the decimation caused shutdowns and essential procedure orders — but three of the most overlooked negative impacts of the shutdowns have been mental health, drug abuse and domestic violence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the time period of April-June, nearly 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health of substance abuse. In a study published by the CDC on Aug. 14 due to stay at home orders, 40.9% of adults reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, 30.9% reported either anxiety or depression and 26.3% reported having something called trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TDSR). And those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.

The same CDC study showed that 13% of people surveyed by the CDC during the same time said that they started or increased their substance use and 11% seriously considered suicide. The Washington, D.C.-based ODMAP (Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program) reported that drug overdoses during COVID rose 18%. And a study released by Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in June showed calls to suicide hotlines are up 47% nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic with some crisis lines experiencing a 300% increase. 

These statistics are horrifying — but it doesn’t end there.

Not far from these numbers of increased mental health issues and substance use during COVID-19 is what the New England Journal of Medicine has labeled “A Pandemic within a Pandemic,” the rise and lack of reporting of domestic violence. With schools closed and people furloughed from work, stress levels were all-time highs in the home — and with it came higher numbers of violence. Typically, one in four women and one in 10 men experience domestic violence, but because of lockdowns, there were far less options to get away for either to report the other safely to the police. Worse is for children, who with school closures, lost teachers, guidance counselors and administrators they would once have an opportunity to report abuse to.

And how have the federal and state governments reacted? Not well. Many states are still closed, exacerbating all the issues I’ve mentioned. And similar to restaurant and small-business closures, many Americans will never recover from the damage that has been caused.

More egregious than our government not reacting is our government doing something even worse — chipping away services that could help those who find themselves in a hopeless or dangerous place. One such service at risk is the toll-free number. When I first heard about the potential to end the concept of toll-free numbers, I honestly blew it off. I, like many people that I know in my bubble, have an unlimited cellphone plan — toll-free numbers don’t come in to play for someone like me. But there are many who this would adversely affect.

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Health care law on line at court, but is it likely to fall?

WASHINGTON (AP) — To hear Democrats tell it, a Supreme Court with President Donald Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett could quickly get rid of the law that gives more than 20 million Americans health insurance coverage.

But that’s not the inevitable outcome of a challenge the court will hear Nov. 10, just one week after the election.

Yes, the Trump administration is asking the high court to throw out the Obama-era healthcare law, and if she is confirmed quickly Barrett could be on the Supreme Court when the court hears the case.

But even if the justices agree that the law’s mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional because Congress repealed the penalties for not complying, they could still leave the rest of the law alone. That would be consistent with other rulings in which the court excised a problematic provision from a law that was otherwise allowed to remain in force.

Democratic lawmakers, however, sounded alarm bells Monday, the start of four days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Barrett.


The party’s vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, who sits on the committee, said Republicans are “trying to get a justice onto the Court in time to ensure they can strip away the protections of the Affordable Care Act.”

“If they succeed, it will result in millions of people losing access to health care at the worst possible time: in the middle of a pandemic,” the California senator said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s other senator and the committee’s senior Democrat, said, “Health care coverage for millions of Americans is at stake with this nomination.” And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island called Barrett’s nomination a “judicial torpedo aimed” at Affordable Care Act protections, including for preexisting health conditions. Other Democrats on the panel made similar points.

Democrats also repeatedly brought up words Barrett wrote in 2017, when she was a law professor, criticizing Chief Justice John Roberts’ 2012 opinion saving the Affordable Care Act. Barrett wrote that Roberts had “pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute.”

After that 5-4 ruling, which split the court along ideological lines, the justices rejected a second major challenge to the healthcare law by a vote of 6-3 in 2015.

The case before the court this year stems from Congress’ decision in 2017 to eliminate the law’s unpopular fines for not having health insurance. Despite repealing the fines, lawmakers left in place the law’s requirement that virtually all Americans have coverage. Texas and other conservative-led states argue that the change makes the requirement unconstitutional and also dooms the rest of the law because the mandate was so central to it.

But the court could simply “sever” the mandate from the law and leave the rest of the law alone. Many observers see that as a likely outcome and note the upheaval that would result across the American healthcare system if the law were to be struck down in its entirety.

Before the Supreme Court’s term began in

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San Diego Humane Society nurses orphaned mountain lion cub back to health

San Diego Humane Society wildlife staff is nursing a mountain lion cub back to health after the orphaned animal was found dying near a road in Riverside County.

After weeks of intense care, the cub is expected to fully recover, the agency said Wednesday.

U.S. Forrest Service firefighters stationed near the mountain community of Idyllwild spotted the female cub on Sept. 2. At about 14 weeks old and 10.5 pounds, she was semiconscious, emaciated, dehydrated and weak — and had tremors.

The cub was taken to the local Humane Society’s Project Wildlife center in Ramona, where she was given daily fluid therapy and medications.

Fed ground protein and a milk replacer, the cub’s weight has more than doubled to 22 pounds, according to the Humane Society .

“With each passing day, she becomes more active and responsive, and though she still has some medical issues to overcome from being in such a fragile state, we are delighted she has responded well to our treatment and are hopeful she will make a full recovery,” said Christine Barton, director of operations and wildlife rehabilitation at the center in Ramona.

Staff has been in contact with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor the cub’s progress and find her a permanent home at a qualified facility, the San Diego Humane Society said.

The cub is the first wildlife animal admitted at the Ramona center since the agency acquired it from the Humane Society of the United States on Sept. 1.

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San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife nurses dying mountain lion cub back to health

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A mountain lion cub rescued by the San Diego Humane Society continues to make great strides in its recovery.

The Humane Society said the female cub was found by Vista Grande Fire Station firefighters near a road in Idyllwild on Sept. 2. The cub was “semiconscious, extremely emaciated, dehydrated, weak and had tremors,” according to the Humane Society.

Under the care of the Humane Society’s Project Wildlife, the cub — believed to be 14 weeks old — has made significant health progress.

Through daily fluid therapy, medications, and proper meals, the Humane Society said the cub has increased her weight from 10.5 pounds to 22 pounds.

Christine Barton, the director of Operations & Wildlife Rehabilitation at the Humane Society’s Ramona campus, said, “With each passing day, she becomes more active and responsive and, though she still has some medical issues to overcome from being in such a fragile state, we are delighted she has responded well to our treatment and are hopeful she will make a full recovery. Mountain lions are special predators and we are proud to have an expert team trusted by the state of California to care for the species.”

The Humane Society added:

“Mountain lions typically stay with their mother until they disperse to live a solitary life at around 12-18 months of age. Because it is not safe to return a young mountain lion to the wild if found injured or orphaned as a kitten, Project Wildlife has been working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor her progress and when stabilized, to ensure she has a good permanent home at a qualified facility.

San Diego Humane Society acquired the Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona on Sept. 1 from the Humane Society of the United States. This mountain lion cub is the first wildlife patient admitted at the Ramona Campus since San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife took over.

Project Wildlife is one of only two licensed rehabilitation organizations that have a special agreement with the state to work with black bears and are also routinely called on to assist with other apex predators, such as mountain lions.”

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Trump’s doctor leans on health privacy law to duck questions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s doctor leaned on a federal health privacy law Monday to duck certain questions about the president’s treatment for COVID-19, while readily sharing other details of his patient’s condition.



Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, center, and other doctors, walk out to talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


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Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, center, and other doctors, walk out to talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

But a leading expert on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act said a more likely reason for Dr. Sean Conley’s selective disclosures appears to be Trump’s comfort level in fully revealing his medical information.



Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, talks with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


© Provided by Associated Press
Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, talks with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“That’s a little head-scratcher,” said Deven McGraw, a former career government lawyer who oversaw enforcement of the 1996 medical privacy statute. “It’s quite possible the doctor sat down with the president and asked which information is OK to disclose.”

At a press briefing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Conley, the White House physician, reported the president’s blood pressure — a little high at 134/78 — and respiration and heart rates, which were both in the normal ranges.



White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, seated left, and Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, listen as doctors talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


© Provided by Associated Press
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, seated left, and Dr. Sean Conley, physician to President Donald Trump, listen as doctors talk with reporters at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

But when reporters pressed for details on the results of lung scans and when Trump had last tested negative for COVID-19, the doctor demurred, citing HIPAA, as the law is commonly known.

“There is no special protection for lung scans,” McGraw pointed out.

“It really is what the president authorizes to be disclosed,” she explained. “So I am going to have to assume there was a judgment call on what information the president was comfortable releasing to the public.”

The selective disclosure raised more questions about what the president’s doctors aren’t telling the public. Trump returned to the White House later Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it’s “disconcerting” that information coming from Trump’s physicians “must be approved by the president.”

Pronounced “hippah,” the law essentially prohibits disclosure of a person’s medical information without their consent. Many people hear about HIPAA when they call the hospital seeking information about the condition of a relative and they’re told they can’t have it because of the law.

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Trump’s Doctor Leans on Health Privacy Law to Duck Questions | Health News

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s doctor leaned on a federal health privacy law Monday to duck certain questions about the president’s treatment for COVID-19, while readily sharing other details of his patient’s condition.

But a leading expert on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act said a more likely reason for Dr. Sean Conley’s selective disclosures appears to be Trump’s comfort level in fully revealing his medical information.

“That’s a little head-scratcher,” said Deven McGraw, a former career government lawyer who oversaw enforcement of the 1996 medical privacy statute. “It’s quite possible the doctor sat down with the president and asked which information is OK to disclose.”

At a press briefing at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Conley, the White House physician, reported the president’s blood pressure — a little high at 134/78 — and respiration and heart rates, which were both in the normal ranges.

But when reporters pressed for details on the results of lung scans and when Trump had last tested negative for COVID-19, the doctor demurred, citing HIPAA, as the law is commonly known.

“There is no special protection for lung scans,” McGraw pointed out.

“It really is what the president authorizes to be disclosed,” she explained. “So I am going to have to assume there was a judgment call on what information the president was comfortable releasing to the public.”

The selective disclosure raised more questions about what the president’s doctors aren’t telling the public. Trump returned to the White House later Monday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it’s “disconcerting” that information coming from Trump’s physicians “must be approved by the president.”

Pronounced “hippah,” the law essentially prohibits disclosure of a person’s medical information without their consent. Many people hear about HIPAA when they call the hospital seeking information about the condition of a relative and they’re told they can’t have it because of the law.

”HIPAA kinda precludes me from going into too much depth in things that, you know, I’m not (at) liberty or he doesn’t wish to be discussed,” said Conley, who holds the rank of Navy commander.

McGraw said there’s a question about whether the White House physician may even be covered by HIPAA. The law is written to apply to doctors and entities that bill for insurance coverage.

That said, a president, like any other individual, has the right to control personal medical information, said Iliana Peters, who also served as a career lawyer overseeing HIPAA enforcement at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“As the person who is the subject of the records, (Trump) owns the right to privacy over his medical record and he gets to decide how that information is shared certainly with the public, and certainly wit the media,” said Peters. “That is the case with any one of us as a patient.”

Peters said “there may be multiple things going on here in that certain disclosures have been authorized and others haven’t.”

Speaking on MSNBC, Pelosi argued

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Indonesia’s civil society petitions to remove health minister Terawan over his handling of Covid-19 pandemic, SE Asia News & Top Stories

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – A coalition of civil society groups, academics and social organisations has started an online petition urging Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to fire Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto for his alleged incompetence in handling the worsening Covid-19 pandemic.

“We think that Terawan Agus Putranto has failed to carry out his duties in handling the pandemic as health minister,” the coalition wrote in a petition filed through change.org.

“Therefore, we demand that President Jokowi dismiss Terawan from his position as health minister and replace him with someone more competent.”

The petition was started on Wednesday (Oct 30) by the National Network on Domestic Worker Advocacy (Jala PRT), the head of students’ executive board of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN Jakarta) Sultan Rivandi, the head of the University of Indonesia’s Student Executive Body (BEM UI) Manik Marganamahendra, Irma Hidayana of Lapor Covid-19 (Report Covid-19) community and Supinah as a labour representative.

As of Monday, more than 6,000 people have signed the petition.

“From the beginning, the minister has taken the pandemic lightly. He has not been serious in handling (the pandemic). He is also unable to overcome issues such as protecting health workers and containing the spread of Covid-19,” the petition said. According to the World Health Organisation, as of Monday, Indonesia ranks 22nd among the countries with the highest rate of Covid-19 infections, only second to the Philippines in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia also has one of the highest death tolls in Asia, with 11,151 deaths.

The country recorded 303,498 Covid-19 cases as of Saturday.

In September, Amnesty International also listed Indonesia among the countries with the highest estimated numbers of health workers who have died from Covid-19.

Calls for Terawan’s removal have been made as early as March when another civil society coalition consisting of human rights watchdogs KontraS and Amnesty International Indonesia, among other groups, said he had “an arrogant and antiscience attitude”.

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