Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Panel urges tweaks to Obamacare just 11% of way

Image copyright Chris O’Brien / Flickr Image caption The country is almost universally covered by the Affordable Care Act

A federal advisory panel has voted against rolling back the rules and tools of the Affordable Care Act by calling for the government to only give roughly 10% of Obamacare’s enrollees a booster dose of their medicine.

The majority of panel members believe that millions of people who have benefited from Obamacare, based on its former rules, deserve to be given that extra dose.

But in a 10-1 vote, members of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Pediatric Advisory Committee, as well as two independent members, said the already reduced dose of drugs and vaccines should remain unchanged, with doctors having the discretion to prescribe bigger doses if they want.

In their report, members referenced the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations that immunisations should ideally be given about every three years.

But they also acknowledged that many people may need more frequent injections, and recommend that doctors be able to use “flexible schedule” consent forms to opt for more frequent boosters.

Image copyright Motley Fool Image caption The FDA advisory panel agreed that parents should be able to opt out of inoculations

But, they said, “children are being given too many doses too soon”.

At the end of March, the Food and Drug Administration asked for public comments on proposed rules to significantly boost the doses that health care professionals could give some of the enrollees covered by the ACA or its predecessor health programme, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

The plan would provide for a standard ten percent dose each year for most enrollees, and specifically support the use of “elective” booster immunisations.

Pharmacies and clinics that offer low-cost prescriptions would be able to prescribe more shots as well.

Doctors currently prescribe drugs to patients based on blood tests and the clinical benefit of the drug, and whether or not it is cost-effective.

But more frequent vaccinations would add a lot of extra cost to the healthcare system.

The Trump administration, in particular, has said it supports rolling back the ACA, as well as deregulating healthcare and planning for a single-payer system.

But other members of the FDA panel went out of their way to emphasise the many positives of the healthcare law.

Dr Ethel-Marie Clouse, a panel member and pediatrician from New Orleans, Louisiana, told the BBC that parents had been losing access to the same medicines and vaccines that their doctors prescribed.

“If you think you are addicted to nicotine, then addicts are different from those who are trying to stop,” Dr Clouse said.

“They might say, I can’t stop. I’ve been smoking for 50 years and now I have a cough. I want to quit.”

She went on to say that the ideas put forward by the Trump administration, and the Advisory Committee, were moving in the right direction, saying: “We are trying to get us closer to a more universal system that will really work for everybody.”

Click here to read the full text of the report.

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