Debt: poof?
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A proposed new rule would wipe medical debt off consumers’ credit reports.
Morning Brew June 14, 2024

Healthcare Brew

TGIF! There’s always debate around the healthiest way to eat. Well, according to a new study from Harvard, the so-called Planetary Health Diet—i.e., consuming lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains while minimizing meats, dairy products, and processed foods—can lower the risk of premature death by 30%. Can we get some whole wheat doughnuts in the break room…?

In today’s edition:

Devil in the debt-ails

SCOTUS unanimous

—Maia Anderson, Cassie McGrath

FROM THE CREW

Your burning questions about work, answered

The Crew

Is it okay to ask your co-worker how much they make? Is Gen Z set up for failure in the workplace? Should you really bring your whole self to work? Each week on Per My Last Email, Morning Brew’s resident career experts, Kaila and Kyle—whose careers have collectively spanned the corporate, government, nonprofit, and startup sectors—debate the trickiest challenges in work life and share insightful (and sometimes hilarious) tactics on how to overcome them.

Listen now.

HOSPITALS & FACILITIES

Potential repercussions

Hospital cross symbol with money coming out of it. Anna Kim

In a move that could be good for patients but bad for hospitals, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Tuesday proposed regulation that would wipe medical debt from many consumers’ credit reports.

The rule is meant to help the 15 million people in the US who creditors say still have a combined $49 billion of medical debt that negatively affects their credit scores, Rohit Chopra, director of the CFPB, said during a June 11 press briefing. About 100 million people in the US have some amount of medical debt, which totals roughly $220 billion, according to data from the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker.

The proposed regulation comes after three credit-reporting conglomerates—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—removed paid-off medical debt and medical debts under $500 from credit reports in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

But some experts worry the proposed regulations would have “unintended consequences” for hospitals, such as making collections harder because patients would be incentivized to not pay medical bills.

“In the short run, [the rule] sounds good and can…reduce the barriers for low-income patients by removing their medical debt from credit reports,” Ge Bai, a professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Healthcare Brew. “But in the long run, it can backfire and hurt the very patients the rule intends to help.”

Keep reading here.—MA

   

PHARMA

FDA affirmed

The Supreme Court Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a challenge against the FDA’s regulation of mifepristone—one of two drugs used in medication abortions in the US—nearly two years after the court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The anti-abortion doctors behind the Food and Drug Administration v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine case, which was brought to the high court in November 2022, claimed there was inadequate evidence for the FDA’s 2000 approval of the drug. More than 6 million people have used mifepristone since it was approved.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the court opinion that the plaintiffs do not prescribe mifepristone, and that a group’s “desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue.”

In August 2023, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the FDA approval was legal, but restricted how the medication could be doled out, undoing updates that had expanded the use of the drug during pregnancy and access to it via telehealth. This means that SCOTUS’s decision also affirms the authority and independence of the FDA.

Keep reading here.—CM

   

TOGETHER WITH ZORO

Zoro

Safety first. Zoro is participating in Safety Month. This week, it’s all about hand + eye protection awareness, and what better way to take care of both than with Zoro’s quality selection of PPE and workplace equipment? Keep business running smoothly and safely with the right products on hand and in sight. Shop now on Zoro.com.

VITAL SIGNS

A laptop tracking vital signs is placed on rolling medical equipment. Francis Scialabba

Today’s top healthcare reads.

Stat: 13,000. That’s how many blood donation slots were open in England this week after a cyberattack limited hospitals’ ability to match patients with the proper blood type. (NHS)

Quote: “​​When private equity gets hold of healthcare systems, it is literally a matter of life and death, so if you drive a hospital like Steward into bankruptcy, putting patients and communities at risk, you should face real consequences.”—Sen. Elizabeth Warren on a proposed federal bill to impose jail time on executives who “loot” health systems, leading to patient harm (Fierce Healthcare)

Read: The health benefits of doing nothing. (Time)

JOBS

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