There’s a lot of health-related news this week, much of which is excitingly horrifying if you’re me. (Possibly it is also excitingly horrifying if you are you! I don’t want to presume.) I think it’s likely we’ll keep seeing these stories for a while, as they’re part and parcel with the federal decisions to end our Public Health Emergency designation. I will definitely keep folks posted on changes to this landscape.
Standard standing reminders still apply: I may be starting a seventh year of journalism, but I summarize news within my areas of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a discovery document!–but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. And, of course, for the things that are within my lane, I’m offering context that shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!
Cleanup in Aisle 45:
It has been a quiet week for Election Rejection, comparatively speaking, but there is Biden Rebuilding news to know. Here’s what I have for you:
- Abysmal Asylum Adjustments. The Biden administration announced a new proposed asylum policy this week that, frankly, looks a lot like it was written by Cheeto POTUS. The proposed policy would dramatically curtail how people claim asylum in the US, requiring individuals to first seek asylum in other countries and invalidating their claims if they enter the U.S. without authorization. It was originally forecast in January, and has concerned a lot of Democrats–for good reason, because the new policy is probably illegal and it’s a far cry from his campaign promise to expand access. We’re currently in a 30-day comment period, with implementation planned in May, and I will definitely let folks know who’s organizing the public yelling as soon as I have more info.
Your New Normal:
- SNAP Cold Snap. Speaking of changes in public policy, this upcoming week will also mark the sunset of food security protections that were put in place during the pandemic. The change was brought by December’s omnibus bill, much like the Medicaid redetermination process that has set up shop in my brain since January. That said, the SNAP policy goes into effect a month sooner, sunsetting on March 1 in 32 different states. That is very poorly timed, since we still haven’t fully recovered from intense inflation of grocery prices, and this is likely to hurt a lot of households.
- One Medical to Rule Them All. Monopoly giant Amazon.com Inc has closed its acquisition this week of the primary care organization named, ironically, One Medical. The deal was able to close because the FTC decided not to sue about it, though it sounds like they are trying to retain the right to go after them later if Amazon does sketchy things with people’s medical data. This isn’t the first medical acquisition Amazon has made, as it purchased pharmacy services in 2020 and attempted to bring Alexa to hospitals in 2021. It does, however, mark a substantial expansion of Amazon’s medical services (which is a cursed phrase I’m mad I even have to type), and as far as I know it’s the first direct medical subscription service the company has offered. Many advocates are also rightfully concerned that it’s a bigger risk to patient privacy than previous acquisitions. I will definitely keep people posted on this deal.
- Waste Fraught, Want Not in East Palestine. The Environmental Protection Agency took the opportunity this week to order Norfolk Southern to clean up their act in East Palestine, figuratively speaking. At the same time, however, they instructed the company to stop cleaning up the area, literally speaking, and paused shipment of the contaminated waste out of the area. The instructions highlight overall uncertainty about the long-term health effects, which remain an ongoing point of contention and concern. These things are only exacerbated by a preliminary report released from the National Transportation Safety Board, which cites an overheated wheel bearing as the cause of the derailment and notes that it took three defect detectors to pick up the issue. Needless to say, things are still a pretty big mess over there.
- Operation Rescue Doggos. In Seattle, a neighborhood pulled together impressively to rescue the occupants of a doggy daycare resort in Seattle when their building caught fire. After all 115 furry friends safely made it out of the building, the displaced doggos wound up staying in businesses and homes all over the neighborhood. The damage from the fire will cost about $300,000 in repairs, and the owner has started a Go Fund Me which has raised about a tenth of that cost already.
So that’s all the news I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news rebates. For making it through, you deserve this happy capy and a more functional government. I’ll be back next week with more restructured and improved news, and I hope you will be back as well–but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me your plan for universal healthcare!