Health Care — Changes coming to the CDC after missteps

There’s going to be an American version of “The Great British Baking Show”….titled, you guessed it, “The Great American Baking Show.”

Today in health care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is announcing a shake-up after missteps in its COVID-19 response.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

CDC director says it must ‘do better’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is acknowledging missteps and pleading to make some important changes.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that the agency “did not reliably meet expectations” and would overhaul its operations after an external review found shortcomings in the COVID-19 response.

The review, which began in April, comes after the CDC faced heavy criticism for its stumbles both in the early days of the pandemic and more recently, with critics pointing to confusing guidance and slow responses.

Walensky effectively acknowledged that at least some of the criticism is valid, and the agency announced a series of steps on Wednesday seeking to modernize and improve its responses.

Possible changes:

  • The agency said its “guidance documents are confusing and overwhelming; the website is not easy to navigate.” It is considering restructuring its website and producing “plain language” guidance.
  • The agency also said it “takes too long for CDC to publish its data and science for decision making.” It is considering steps to expedite publication.

Key quote: “For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Walensky said in a statement. “As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way.”

Read more here.

Planned Parenthood to spend $50M for midterms

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion advocacy group, is launching a record $50 million investment into the midterm elections in November, the organization announced Wednesday.

The effort is aimed at states that are poised to either ban or expand access to sexual and reproductive health care and comes just a few months after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case that granted a constitutional right to abortion.

Planned Parenthood’s advocacy and political organizations will initially invest in nine target states to remind voters that abortion is at stake: Georgia, Nevada, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin.

  • Democrats have historically struggled to put abortion front and center in election campaigns, but advocates and strategists think this year will be different.
  • Planned Parenthood said it plans to leverage the influx of support it has received as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Planned Parenthood said it intends to contact 6 million voters across all target states through door knocking, phone calls, digital advertising, mailers and radio ads.

Read more here.

NY DEMS ASK BIDEN TO USE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT FOR VACCINES

A group of Democratic lawmakers from New York on Wednesday called on President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to enhance the production of vaccines for monkeypox.

In a letter to Biden, the lawmakers, led by Reps. Jerry Nadler and Ritchie Torres said, “It is clear that vaccine demand is quickly outpacing supply throughout the country.”

  • “In New York, every vaccine appointment has been taken. According to [the Department of Health and Human Services], the government is now distributing about 1.1 million doses, less than a third of the 3.5 million that health officials now estimate are needed to fight the outbreak. It is reported that HHS does not expect the next delivery, of half a million doses, until September,” the lawmakers wrote, noting that most of the other doses that have been ordered are not expected to be available until next year.

The New York delegation noted the Defense Production Act is often used to address national issues and supply shortages. In May, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra invoked the act to address the national baby formula shortage.

  • “The United States has the resources available to effectively combat the spread of monkeypox, and we owe it to the communities most vulnerable to public health threats to ensure that they are well-protected,” the lawmakers wrote. “Though it is encouraging that the official declaration of a [public health emergency] will accelerate the production and availability of vaccines, tests, and treatments, we must take all available actions to combat this outbreak.”

Read more here.

CAPS ON DRUG PRICE HIKES MOST POPULAR ASPECT DEMS’ BILL: POLL

A cap on prescription drug price increases is the most popular part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the $430 billion climate, health care and tax package that President Biden signed into law Tuesday, according to a Politico-Morning Consult poll.

The poll found that 76 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat support placing a limit on the amount that prescription drugs can increase, while only 13 percent strongly or somewhat oppose it.

More than 70 percent strongly or somewhat support the law’s provisions to allow Medicare to directly negotiate some prescription drug prices and to reduce the federal deficit by $300 billion in the next decade. Just over 10 percent oppose these provisions.

More than 70 percent also support the act limiting annual out-of-pocket costs for Medicare recipients to $2,000, while 15 percent oppose it.

The poll found the least popular part of the legislation is its provision to give the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) $80 billion to allow it to hire new agents and increase its ability to investigate and recover unpaid taxes. Only 40 percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat support it, while 46 percent said they oppose it.

Read more here.

Monkeypox response continues to face hurdles

State and local health authorities are facing new obstacles in responding to monkeypox after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized dividing Jynneos vaccine doses into fifths to expand the available supply, with many authorities unsure about how to immediately adopt the new strategy.

The FDA last week authorized a new method of administering the Jynneos smallpox vaccine, which is being used to prevent monkeypox amid the ongoing outbreak, to extend the current supply of doses in the US The method involves injecting one-fifth of the normal dose intradermally, between layers of skin, instead of into the muscle as most vaccines are administered.

Several hurdles stood in the way of local authorities going ahead with the federal government’s new guidance, including workers not being trained to administer shots intradermally, a lack of specific needles used for these types of shots and an absence of funding for more supplies.

What’s needed:

  • “It will require a significant shift in operations over the next few weeks. CDPH, for example, has now ordered thousands of the smaller needles and syringes that are required,” the Chicago Department of Public Health said, adding that it was working with both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Health to facilitate training and to readjust the reporting and information infrastructure for the vaccination campaign.
  • The San Francisco Department of Public Health similarly said it was “awaiting federal and state guidance” on the updated strategy. The agency also acknowledged that additional training would have to be provided for its workers.

Some clinics in major cities such as Los Angeles were able to quickly adapt to the new guidance. The St. John’s Community Health clinic was able to begin providing reduced intradermal shots within less than a week of the FDA’s authorization.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it was able to “quickly update” stakeholders on the FDA’s decision as well as swiftly update its own information on alternative dosing methods.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • For some students, back to school will mean better ventilated classrooms (NBC News)
  • 100-year-old tuberculosis vaccine may protect against COVID (The Boston Globe)
  • Unequal Access to Monkeypox Shots Gives Europe Pandemic Flashbacks (The New York Times)

STATE BY STATE

  • Medical marijuana sales crater as recreational cannabis sales stay sky high (Arizona Mirror)
  • Public Health Agencies Adapt Covid Lessons to Curb Overdoses, STDs, and Gun Violence (Kaiser Health News)
  • Medicaid expansion’s new life (Axios)

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.

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