By Jennifer Davis
The percentage of people who do not have health insurance rose to 12.3 percent in the third quarter of the year, the first such rise since ObamaCare took effect in 2014.
The hike in the uninsured rate, up 1.4 percent according to Gallup since the beginning of the year, comes as the GOP Congress has sought to repeal the law and as President Trump has threatened to allow its implosion.
Trump last week said he would end federal payments to insurers meant to help people afford ObamaCare, and his administration has cut funds that would sign people for the health exchanges.
Democrats have been attacking Trump for “sabotage” of the law, highlighting the 90 percent cut to the advertising and outreach budget.
When ObamaCare went into effect in 2014, the nation saw a steep drop in the uninsured rate, which had peaked at 18 percent in 2013.
Today's higher rate also comes as the nation's unemployment rate has fallen. Because many people get health insurance through their employer, strong employment can lower the uninsured rate.
Experts expect the cuts and confusion over whether the law is being repealed will further depress enrollment — which could cause the rate of people without insurance to rise further.
“Uncertainty about the healthcare law also may be driving the increase,” Gallup writes. “Congressional Republicans' attempts to replace the healthcare law may be causing consumers to question whether the government will enforce the penalty for not having insurance.”
Gallup also points to some insurers dropping out of certain markets and premium increases as a possible cause.
“The rising insurance premiums could be compelling some Americans to forgo insurance, especially those who fail to qualify for federal subsidies,” Gallup said.
By William Johnson
The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) this week released its annual figures for the spread of key sexually transmitted infections (STDs).
Not including HIV rates (reported separately), it reports a rise in STDs across the US for a third year in a row. Gay and bisexual men remain one of the groups disproportionately affected. This was particularly true in the case of syphilis.
Key findings include:
In its report, CDC researchers speculate that the rise in STD rates among men who have sex with men could be partly due to a rise in condom less sex. It says that stigma and discrimination can also lead to gay and bisexual men to engage in riskier sexual behavior.
Commenting on the statistics, Dr. Gail Bolan, of the CDC, said, ‘Not that long ago, gonorrhea rates were at historic lows, syphilis was close to elimination, and we were able to point to advances in STD prevention, such as better chlamydia diagnostic tests and more screening, contributing to increases in detection and treatment of chlamydial infections. That progress has since unraveled.
‘The number of reported syphilis cases is climbing after being largely on the decline since 1941, and gonorrhea rates are now increasing. This is especially concerning given that we are slowly running out of treatment options.’
In recent years, cases of gonorrhea showing greater resistance to antibiotic treatment have begun to emerge.
‘It is imperative that federal, state, and local programs employ strategies that maximize long-term population impact by reducing STD incidence and promoting sexual, reproductive, maternal, and infant health,’ continued Bolan.
One of Bolan’s colleagues, Dr. Jonathan Mermi of CDC, went further: ‘Increases in STDs are a clear warning of a growing threat. STDs are a persistent enemy, growing in number, and outpacing our ability to respond.’
By Drew Joshlin
The Centers for Disease Control has finally admitted what activists and medical experts have been saying for years: People whose HIV loads are undetectable can’t transmit the virus.
It might seem like a given, but as HIV Plus reports, its the first time the august body has made the claim.
In a memo released Wednesday, National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the CDC stated that “when [antiretroviral treatment] results in viral suppression, defined as less than 200 copies/ml or undetectable levels, it prevents sexual HIV transmission.”
“Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP),” it continues, “no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed. This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner.
Nearly half of all people with HIV in the U.S. are undetectable, thanks to receiving proper treatment with anti-viral medication.
Bruce Richman, executive director of UequalsU.org and the Prevention Access Campaign, tells HIVPlus the statement can’t be overestimated. “The CDC’s new and unequivocal language is a result of [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’] unprecedented review of transmission risk messaging across departments which will be rolling out core messaging in the coming weeks and months.”
On a less upbeat note, the memo also pointed out that gay and bisexual men are disproportionately affected by the virus, with more than 26,000 being diagnosed with HIV in 2015 alone. That’s two-thirds of all new cases in the U.S.
And Republican threats to the Affordable Care Act; Planned Parenthood; and funding for HIV awareness, treatment and education make our gains even more precarious.
“If Congress repeals the ACA without simultaneously replacing it with programs that ensure comprehensive health coverage for the same if not more individuals… people with HIV and others would lose access to the care and treatment that they rely on to remain healthy,” says Carl Schmid of the AIDS Institute. “People with HIV, who depend on a daily drug regimen, cannot risk losing access to their health coverage, not even for a single day.”
By Daniel Smith
Scientists have created an antibody that attacks nearly all HIV strains and has successfully prevented the infection in primates.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi worked together to create the antibody, which destroys three essential parts of the virus so that it becomes harder for it to build up a resistance.
The scientists engineered broadly neutralizing antibodies, which a small number of patients have developed after years of infection that attack a majority of HIV strains, to create the three-antibody combination that aids in blocking the virus’ ability to mutate.
“They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered,” Sanofi’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Gary Nabel, told BBC News. “We’re getting 99% coverage, and getting coverage at very low concentrations of the antibody.”
Researchers gave 24 monkeys the tri-specific antibody before infecting them with the virus, and reported that none of them developed an infection.
The study was published in the journal Science and announced that human trials to test the antibody will begin in 2018.
By David Vandygriff
With revised legislation unveiled by Senate Republicans, this page has been updated to reflect the differences between the House and Senate attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act. These updates do not include a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the revised bill. The latest CBO report focused on a "repeal-only" Senate plan. A previous version of this comparison erroneously included the "repeal-only" report.
Key changes in the revised Senate plan:
The House of Representatives has passed a new healthcare bill, meaning that President Donald Trump is one step closer to repealing Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act. Here is a breakdown of how Mr. Trump’s healthcare plan differs from former President Barack Obama’s.
Number of people left uninsured
Obamacare: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that if the ACA continues to be the law of the land, the number of uninsured Americans – currently 28 million – would remain stable for the next decade.
Trumpcare: The CBO did not have time to predict the potential effects of the latest version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In an analysis of an earlier version of the bill, the office found that a total of 54 million could be uninsured by 2026 if the AHCA becomes law.
Obamacare: All Americans must have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
Trumpcare: The AHCA repeals the mandate, but those who go without health insurance for more than 63 days must pay a 30 per cent surcharge on their insurance premiums for a year.
Obamacare: Companies with more than 50 employees are required to provide health insurance or pay a penalty.
Trumpcare: The AHCA repeals the employer mandate.
Obamacare: To pay for the new system, the ACA raised Medicare taxes on those with incomes above $250,000. It also imposed new taxes on makers of medical devices, health insurers, drug companies, investment income, tanning salons and high-end health insurance plans. The legislation gave some tax credits to middle-income earners to help them pay out-of-pocket health expenses.
Trumpcare: The AHCA repeals most Obamacare taxes.
Essential health benefits
Obamacare: Mandates that all insurance plans cover certain health conditions and services, such as annual physical exams, prescription drug costs, mental health counselling and women's health services.
Trumpcare: Enables states to waive requirements set forth in the ACA.
Obamacare: Expanded Medicaid health insurance for low-income individuals.
Trumpcare: Cuts federal funding for Medicaid expansion starting in 2020.
Obamacare: Prevents health insurers from denying coverage or charging more to individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease.
Trumpcare: Allows states to waive rules that currently stop insurers from charging new customers more because of their medical history. States can opt out of the ACA requirements if they set up high-risk insurance plans, known as high-risk pools, for individuals who cannot afford traditional insurance. A new amendment provides an extra $8 billion to subsidize the cost of insuring those with pre-existing conditions.
What would not change
Both the ACA and the Republican bill allow children to be covered by their parents’ insurance policies until they are 26.
Insurers would still not be allowed to set annual and lifetime limits on how much they will reimburse individuals for “essential health benefits”, such as doctors’ services, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, prescription drug coverage, pregnancy and childbirth, and mental health services.