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What We’re Reading: Biden Addresses Baby Formula Shortage; Veterans’ Care Home Settlement; Hospital Stay Harms


President Joe Biden announces plans to improve baby formula shortages; Massachusetts reaches settlement with veterans who contracted COVID-19 in long-term care facility; a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries were harmed from hospital stays in 2018.

Biden Adminstration Addresses Formula Shortage

In response to nationwide baby formula shortages seen across the country the White House yesterday announced measures aimed at increasing supply, The New York Times reports. The efforts will include speeding manufacturing and increasing imports after the Biden administration met with major manufacturers and retailers including Walmart, Target, Reckitt, and Gerber. Specifically, the administration is urging states to waive packaging regulations to get formula on shelves more quickly and asked the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on price gouging. Despite the efforts, Americans may not see quick relief.

Settlement Reached in Veterans COVID-19 Suit

Families of veterans who became ill or died of COVID-19 at a Massachusetts-run veterans care center reached a $56 million settlement with the state, the Associated Press reports. The class-action lawsuit included families of 84 veterans who died at the home and an additional 84 veterans who became ill. Payouts still require a federal judge’s approval. Although previous reports put the total at 76, the higher total came after further investigations by the state revealed additional individuals who had contracted the disease, although it was not listed as a cause of death on certificates. The outbreak was one of the deadliest at a long-term care facility in the United States.

In-Hospital Harm Among Medicare Beneficiaries

A new report from the HHS Inspector General found that 1 in 4 older Americans on Medicare had either a temporary or lasting harm during a hospital stay prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to USA Today. A total of 12% of patients had adverse events that led to longer hospital stays and permanent harm or death or required live-saving intervention, while 13% had temporary issues that would have resulted in further issues without intervention. Researchers assessed data from 770 patients discharged from 629 hospitals in 2018. Although previous similar reports have led to incremental improvements, officials say more work is needed to improve patient safety.

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