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What We’re Reading: Biomarker Testing in Kentucky; Opioid Guidelines Updated; EPA Limits in Drinking Water


Kentucky passes a bill to require insurers to cover biomarker tests for patients with cancer; CDC opioid guidelines updated in November may be too late for patients with chronic pain; the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new limits to reduce dangerous human-manufactured chemicals in drinking water.

Kentucky to Require Insurers Cover Cancer Testing

A bipartisan bill in Kentucky, which received final passage this week, will require health insurers to cover biomarker tests that are used to help establish the best cancer treatment plans for patients, reported The Associated Press. The measure was celebrated as a significant step in the state, as it faces high cancer rates. These tests screen patients for genes, proteins, and other substances that will give doctors information about a patient’s condition and how they will react to certain treatments based on their genetic makeup, allowing for targeted treatment.

New CDC Opioid Guidelines Might Be Too Late for Patients With Chronic Pain

Recent CDC updates, the first since 2016, have attempted to ease the impact of guidance making it difficult for people with chronic pain to get opioid prescriptions, but doctors, patients, and advocates say it’s too late, according to Kaiser Health News. To staunch the country’s overdose crises, the original guidance enforced legal restrictions on doctors’ ability to prescribe the drugs. The new guidelines released in November attempted to ease dose limit recommendations and warn doctors of possible risks that can happen following quick dose changes after long-term use, but some doctors still worry the new guidelines won’t come into effect fast enough.

EPA Proposes New Limits for Dangerous Chemicals in Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing the country’s first set of standards for human-manufactured chemicals in drinking water that threaten health much more than scientists previously thought, according to The Washington Post. The new proposal would require water utility plants to identify and reduce polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances at 4 parts per trillion and could force water processing companies to spend billions, even though the new limits are looser than the consumption levels set last year by the agency. Financial assistance would be provided for small and rural utilities. Agency leaders say that 4 parts per trillion is the lowest level at which the chemicals can be accurately measured and detected, but that lifetime exposure of 0.004 to 0.02 parts per trillion can put the cardiovascular system at risk, depending on the chemical.

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