The biggest health stories to watch in 2023
As 2023 continues to roll on, expect policies related to COVID and healthcare in general to hit news headlines. Politically contentious battles are predicted to shape the healthcare world.
Here’s a glimpse into the news: House Republicans plan to roll out a flurry of investigations into the pandemic-related issues. State lawmakers will hold meetings in a post-Roe era. And as COVID clocks its fourth year, a new approach for payments of vaccines and treatments is on the horizon. As if COVID wasn’t worse enough, the adverse effects of climate change haven’t left humanity to breathe a sigh of relief.
Let’s dive deeper to get a clue about future headlines.
1. Probes On Crucial Pandemic Issues
2023 began with a split 118th Congress. The House GOP planned to investigate several issues, including the pandemic’s origin, prescription drug brokers, and leading federal health agencies.
On February 1st, the House Oversight Committee held its first hearing to dig up the frauds within the COVID relief funding. The lawmakers also accused the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) of contributing to skyrocketing costs of drugs. They plan to hold a meeting with these middlemen to get to the root of the whole story.
The primary lobby of PBM, Pharmaceutical Care Management, said it would work with lawmakers wanting to know medicine affordability. PCMA insists that investigators should consider the whole supply chain. Furthermore, they added that the cost that manufacturers set hugely determines the final price point.
Meanwhile, the House GOP’s select subcommittee shifted its focus to issues related to the pandemic. It’s now probing the pandemic’s origin, vaccine development, vaccine mandates, and COVID-induced school closures.
2. Abortion Restrictions
2022 saw the Supreme Court overturning abortion rights, restricting many Americans from practicing the procedure. More than 12 states banned abortion in many instances, showing how the states can halt the procedure. This year will see many state lawmakers meeting to discuss the issue.
Anti-abortionists vow to advocate for more restrictions, a move that will see pro-life states banning abortion pills. They plan to hold more talks with state legislatures to introduce model laws. SBA Pro-Life America is among the influential groups behind this push. Its campaigns target regions such as Nebraska, North Carolina, and Virginia.
3. A Covid Shift
The US citizens have been getting free vaccines and treatments, thanks to the government’s funding. But in 2023, the federal government is set to move the payment and procurement to the commercial market. Critics worry that the uninsured may find it challenging to access the products.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services scheduled a plan for this shift in covid treatment. The early months of 2023 could see vaccines entering the commercial market. The government predicts that treatments such as antiviral Paxlovid will follow suit in mid-year.
According to an HHS spokesperson, the department prioritizes access to vaccines and treatments for everyone requiring them. It’s liaising with other players, such as insurers, firms, and authorities, to ensure the transition is frictionless.
4. Will Aduhelm Probe Change Anything?
Biogen has been accused of manufacturing controversial Alzheimer’s drugs, Aduhelm. Capitol Hill’s 18-month investigation concluded that the collaboration between Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the drug manufacturer didn’t follow the set protocols.
Legislatures recommended several steps to boost FDA’s regulatory reviews, including recording communication with pharmaceuticals and outlining procedures to be followed in the entire process. But will FDA and the companies adopt the recommendations? And will the investigation keep such issues from recurring in the future? The answers will emerge in 2023 and beyond.
5. How Will the Pandemic Evolve in China?
It’s not easy to predict the answer to this question. But external observers are putting together pieces of evidence to predict the country’s Covid outbreak. They’re also looking into the possibility of the disease resurging and spreading worldwide.
While China’s pandemic could ignite a new variant, Maria Van Kerkhove says the risk for more variants can emerge from anywhere in the world. Maria is an epidemiologist at WHO. Thus, the outbreak in China doesn’t mean it’s a special case.
6. Will Title 42 End?
Title 42 is a covid-era policy that allows the removal of migrants from the borders for health reasons. The red states rushed to the Supreme Court to block Biden’s move to terminate this policy. Their request was granted.
Now, Title 42 is set to end in early May 2023. Should it end, the government plans to continue implementing certain restrictions to asylum, such as a transit ban. The government is communicating with Mexico to take in deportees before the “humanitarian parole” ends.
7. Will the Testing Mandate for Travelers from China Continue?
The CDC announced that all travelers from China should pass a negative COVID-19 test. The move aims at slowing the spread of the disease in the US, given inadequate COVID-related information from China. The department will continue to track the situation and adjust requirements appropriately.
The year will likely continue to see new variants emerging worldwide. However, low testing and reporting in China could hinder the early detection of new variants. Pre-departure tests have proved crucial in lowering the number of infected travelers and reducing the spread of COVID.
According to CDC, this approach, plus other recommendations (such as self-monitoring, masking while traveling, and testing for a few days after landing home), will help reduce the spread of COVID through international travel. The department plans to strengthen its partnership with WHO and other governments to boost sequencing capacity to pinpoint novice variants.
8. Does the Decline of Monkeypox Reveal Secret to Squashing Outbreaks?
As the world recovers from COVID’s aftermath, monkeypox sprung up in the summer of 2022, threatening to revert humanity’s progress. But a few months later, the outbreak died off as quickly as it had hit, thanks to public health efforts.
So, what helped the country end this threat? The government employed lessons from the decades-long fight against HIV/AIDS, such as creating awareness and promoting vaccination.
But scientists warn that we should remain vigilant to ensure the outbreak doesn’t return to haunt the world. According to them, the government lagged in its efforts against an outbreak for which treatments were already available.
We’ve learned that a unified fight against a virus can bring it down. So from now on, the political and scientific groups are expected to work together to avoid unnecessary delays in the battle against microscopic enemies.
9. Long COVID
Long COVID is a health-related trend that will continue haunting the year. Even after recovery, a patient may contend with the disease’s long-term impact, affecting their daily activities such as work and schooling. Common long COVID symptoms include persistent fatigue and respiratory symptoms.
Healthcare personnel and primary caregivers need to diagnose and rehabilitate such patients. Further research into this issue can help prevent and treat COVID to keep long-term impact at bay.
10. The Impact of Climate Change
Climate change is a menace that threatens the health of the global population. And scientists fear that the effects will worsen if nothing is done. Extreme heat often leads to cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, kidney problems, death due to heat stroke, skin cancer, and other complications.
Climate change can also lead to flooding, an issue that often displaces millions of people from their homes. Storms and drought are other effects. The indirect impacts of this problem are obvious- food insecurity, inadequate water, air pollution due to smoke from wildfires, and mental illness due to hardship.
2023 will see governments holding meetings to discuss how they can mitigate further climate change and minimize its impact. Some solutions to this issue include planting drought-resistant crops and planting more urban vegetation to minimize the heat effect.
11. Supercharging Health Systems
What appeared like a containable illness in one corner of the planet spread quickly, catching governments unprepared. And the existing resources and systems got exhausted as the onslaught continued for more than two years. This meant the quality of health care took a hit.
The post-pandemic phase is witnessing countries racing to strengthen their health systems. The year will see governments and donors committing resources to long-term healthcare efforts. The need for robust information systems and governance structures will continue as countries look to build resilience and defend their population against infectious diseases.
HST, Your Trusted Insurance Guides
As the world continues cruising through the post-COVID era, authorities and scientists are working around the clock to prevent a resurgence of this pandemic. They haven’t forgotten the issue of climate change and how it’s changing the world. The lessons learned from past experiences are beneficial in creating solid healthcare systems and implementing modern technological solutions in 2023 and beyond.
Amidst healthcare challenges, you need insurance solutions that provide adequate coverage. The trick is to approach agents with in-depth experience and knowledge in the insurance world. Usher in HST.
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