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Medicare

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Deaths among Medicare patients in nursing homes soared by 32% last year, with two devastating spikes eight months apart, a government watchdog reported Tuesday in the most comprehensive look yet at the ravages of COVID-19 among its most vulnerable victims.

In a surprisingly strong 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court turned back the latest constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act, likely heralding the end of GOP efforts to strike the law in its entirety through court action. Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are looking for ways to expand health benefits. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Rachel Cohrs of Stat join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Also, Rovner interviews Andy Slavitt, who recently stepped down from the Biden administration’s covid response team, about his new book on the pandemic.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are eyeing a $6 trillion infrastructure investment plan that goes far beyond roads and bridges to include core party priorities, from lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60 and adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to incorporating a long-running effort to provide legal status for certain immigrants, including “Dreamers."

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are committed to passing legislation this year to curb prescription drug prices, but they're still disagreeing on how to cut costs for patients and taxpayers while preserving profits that lure investors to back potentially promising treatments.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A new $56,000-a-year Alzheimer’s drug would raise Medicare premiums broadly, and some patients who are prescribed the medication could face copayments of about $11,500 annually, according to a research report published Thursday.

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WASHINGTON — A new $56,000-a-year Alzheimer’s drug would raise Medicare premiums broadly, and some patients who are prescribed the medication could face copayments of about $11,500 annually, according to a research report published Thursday.

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Answer: Medicare is widely expected to cover the treatment. Insurers that offer private or commercial coverage also will pay for care that doctors deem medically necessary.

Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the new head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said the administration will focus on getting more people insured and is interested in finding a way to alleviate the gap keeping low-income families in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid from enrolling in Affordable Care Act health plans.

Lawmakers are working on fleshing out the concept of a “public option,” a government-run or heavily regulated insurance plan that would compete with private insurance. But the details are complicated, both substantively and politically. Meanwhile, bioethicists are debating whether the U.S. should be vaccinating low-risk adolescents against covid-19 while high-risk adults in other countries are still waiting. Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico and Rachana Pradhan of KHN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.

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