Today in health, the Department of Homeland Security did away with a Trump-era rule that limited immigration of people who may have relied on social services such as Medicaid.
Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.
DHS unwinds Trump-era public charge restrictions
The Biden administration on Thursday finalized a rule to replace a Trump-era policy that sought to limit immigration of those it feared may rely on social services.
The new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy rolls back the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule, restricting immigration pathways for those seeking to become U.S. citizens only if they are “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”
The Trump administration’s rule said that anyone who needed benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers for more than 12 months were considered a “public charge” and were more likely to be denied a green card.
“This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a release.
The Biden administration stopped defending the Trump-era rule just months after taking office. The new rule also departs from the Trump-era policy requiring prospective new citizens to forecast whether they might rely on government aid at any time.
Experts said the Trump rule put a chilling effect on people who weren’t directly affected, and discouraged permanent residents and even U.S. citizens from using benefits like medical care over concerns it might keep them from obtaining legal status.
The Department of Health and Human Services also praised the changes, calling Medicaid, and its program for children, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), essential services.
“People who qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, and other health programs should receive the care they need without fear of jeopardizing their immigration status,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a release.
White House buys 100M at-home COVID tests
The White House on Thursday said it purchased 100 million rapid at-home COVID-19 tests with its “limited funding,” as the administration continues to call on Congress to pass more pandemic funds.
The Biden administration said in a press release that the 100 million domestically manufactured tests would be directed into the Strategic National Stockpile. White House officials had no further comment on the tests when reached by The Hill.
Not enough: “While insufficient to adequately replenish our existing stockpile of at-home tests, this procurement will help meet some testing needs in the months ahead and will put us in a better position to manage a potential increase in testing demand this fall and winter,” the White House said in its release.
It was announced in late August that the federal government would cease providing free at-home COVID-19 tests. At the time, the administration said this decision was made because “Congress hasn’t provided additional funding to replenish the nation’s stockpile of tests.”
The White House has kept up its calls for Congress to pass more funding, having requested $22.4 billion to combat the coronavirus pandemic earlier this month.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said this week there is currently an insufficient supply of COVID-19 tests in the national stockpile to handle another potential “omicron-like event.”
“We had promised the American people we would make sure that we did not get into that, but we needed Congress to step up. Congress has not stepped up,” Becerra said.
FDA OK’S LONGER-LASTING BOTOX COMPETITOR
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the anti-wrinkle injection Daxxify, setting up competition for Botox, which has dominated the market for two decades.
Manufacturer Revance Therapeutics said its studies show the drug can temporarily improve moderate to severe frown lines for about six months, almost twice as long a period as Botox. The company in a statement said Daxxify will expand its access to the growing $3.2 billion facial injectables market.
Revance said Daxxify was generally safe and well tolerated with no serious treatment-related adverse events reported in the clinical trials. The drug “achieved clinically significant improvement with long-lasting results and high patient satisfaction,” the company said.
SOME THERMOMETERS MAY BE LESS ACCURATE IN BLACK PATIENTS
A study of more than 4,000 patients found that Black patients are less likely to get an accurate reading with a forehead thermometer than with an oral thermometer.
Forehead thermometers take temperatures using infrared radiation. Whether the devices can pick up the radiation can be affected by something called skin emissivity. Skin emissivity is how much light, radiation and heat is emitted by the skin and can be affected by skin pigmentation.
In a study from Emory University, researchers look at data from 2014 to 2021 for about 2,000 Black patients and 2,000 white patients. They had their temperatures taken by both forehead and oral thermometers within a short time span on their first day in the hospital.
For Black patients, the chances of detecting a fever with a forehead thermometer was 26 percent lower than with an oral thermometer. There were no significant differences for white patients.
Possible consequences: Missed fevers in Black patients can lead to delayed diagnosis and potentially increased risk of death down the line.”
Liberals push Biden on marijuana reform
Democrats are beginning to pressure President Biden to take on marijuana reform as Congress struggles to find a path forward on decriminalization and as the party contemplates what’s possible before the midterms.
Liberals have been building momentum with just two months until the November elections with back-to-back wins on key pieces of Biden’s agenda, from student loans to health care and tax reform.
Forward progress: “Now that the president has delivered on a progressive policy of student debt relief, he has seen an uptick in the polls, he’s united the base, put Republicans on the defensive and Democrats across the country seem to be riding the wave as well,” said Stacey Walker, an influential Iowa Democrat and former surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who focused on cannabis reform during the “unity task force” negotiations between the Biden and Sanders camps in 2020.
A group of Democratic senators recently sent a letter to Biden urging him to act on marijuana legalization. Their request to Biden followed what they described as a “disappointing” explanation from the Department of Health and Human Services that argued “cannabis has not been proven in scientific studies to be a safe and effective treatment for any disease or condition.”
“There is about 36 states in this country that currently have active medical marijuana programs that have thousands and thousands of individuals in them that are benefiting from its therapeutic use,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Advocates wanted Juul’s big settlement to overhaul the e-cigarette landscape. It likely won’t, experts warn (Stat)
US may expand monkeypox vaccine eligibility to men with HIV (AP)
What Australia’s flu season could foreshadow in the US this fall (ABC News)
STATE BY STATE
A new lawsuit is challenging Florida Medicaid’s exclusion of transgender health care (NPR)
Montana hospitals cut jobs and services as rising costs strain budgets (Missoula Current)
Rhode Island-Based CVS Looks to Revive Doctor House Calls (WBSM)
THE HILL OP-EDS
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.