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It’s been extra busy on the health policy beat lately, so a congressional recess provides a chance to explore some of the important stories that people might have missed, like Medicare’s decision to dramatically limit coverage of Aduhelm, the controversial new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease. And even with Congress out, states are rushing to either restrict or expand access to abortion, ahead of a key Supreme Court ruling expected later this spring or summer.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of KHN, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times, Joanne Kenen of Politico and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico.
Among the takeaways from this week’s episode:
The decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to limit Medicare’s coverage of Aduhelm only to beneficiaries who also enroll in clinical studies of the new Alzheimer’s drug came despite intense pressure from patients and advocacy groups who are frustrated by the lack of new therapies for this devastating disease. But the federal agency also appears to have been swayed by arguments by some researchers and public health experts that the earlier research on the drug was faulty.The dust-up over Medicare coverage for Aduhelm points to a source of tension in the U.S. health system: Different government agencies have overlapping authorities. This dispute is between the FDA, which approved the drug despite serious questions about its effectiveness and safety, and CMS, which had to decide whether to cover the cost of a very controversial drug that is also very expensive. But similar tensions also have played out between the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Preven …