The Food and Drug Administration declared Wednesday that vaping among teenagers has reached “an epidemic proportion.” The agency told ﬁve major e-cigarette manufacturers that they had 60 days to find ways to keep their products away from minors.
“I use the word epidemic with great care,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a Wednesday news release. “E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teens.” Yet, as the panel discusses, health advocates warned that the actions may not be strong enough.
This week’s panelists are Sarah Jane Tribble of Kaiser Health News, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner and Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call.
They also look at Arkansas’ announcement that more than 4,000 Medicaid enrollees will be suspended for not meeting new work requirements, the Census Bureau’s announcement that the nation’s uninsured rate was unchanged last year, legislation under consideration on Capitol Hill that will affect the Affordable Care Act and efforts to stem the opioid epidemic.
Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:
- The FDA’s announcement on e-cigarettes appears to be a turning point on officials’ views of how to handle the issue. It was spurred by reports of dramatic growth in teen vaping. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) recently reported that teen use has increased by 75 percent in the past year.
- The e-cigarette industry is largely unregulated. Many brands offer a variety of sweet flavors, even though makers of traditional cigarettes are prohibited from doing that.
- Arkansas’ move to cut adults from the Medicaid expansion program the state rolled out under the ACA is likely to be challenged in court.
- The Trump administration has been a strong supporter of work requirements in the Medicaid program and Seema Verma, who heads the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, tweeted Wednesday night after the Arkansas announcement that she was excited about the work Arkansas has done to connect beneficiaries to jobs and education.
- The Census Bureau’s report Wednesday is the first time since the implementation of ACA coverage expansions that the national uninsured rate did not fall.
- The Republican-led House is expected to vote soon on a package of bills that will remove or postpone more taxes in the ACA, including the penalty for employers who do not offer coverage for workers and a tax on tanning salons. It is doubtful, however, that the measure will get through the Senate this year.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health stories of the week they think you should read, too:
Sarah Jane Tribble: Bloomberg News’ “The Secret Drug Pricing System Middlemen Use to Rake in Millions,” by Robert Langreth, David Ingold and Jackie Gu
Kimberly Leonard: Harper’s Magazine’s “Can Hospitals Learn to Better Treat Deaf Patients?” by Katie Booth
Rebecca Adams: The New York Times and ProPublica’s “Top Cancer Researcher Fails to Disclose Corporate Financial Ties in Major Research Journals,” by Charles Ornstein and Katie Thomas
Stephanie Armour: The Financial Times’ “Opioid Billionaire Granted Patent for Addiction Treatment,” by David Crow
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