What We’re Reading: Medicare-Covered Family Caregiver Training; Weight Loss Drug Price Discrepancies; Transgender Sanctuary Cities


A new CMS proposal would authorize Medicare payments to cover family caregiver training; US list prices for popular weight loss drugs are higher than those of other wealthy nations; Midwestern cities declare themselves sanctuary cities despite anti-LGBT state laws passed.

Medicare Proposal Would Cover Family Caregiver Training

A new CMS proposal would authorize Medicare payments to health care professionals for both individual and group informal caregiver training, according to KFF Health News. Informal caregivers, who are also known as family caregivers, manage medications, oversee medical equipment use, and assist loved ones with activities like toileting and dressing. According to a report conducted by AARP Family Caregiving and the National Alliance for Caregiving, about 42 million Americans provided unpaid care to those 50 years and older in 2020. CMS has yet to finalize several details of the proposal and has asked for public comments on who should be considered a family caregiver and how often training should be delivered. CMS is accepting comments until September 11, but the expectation is for Medicare to start paying for training next year.

US Pays More for New Weight Loss Drugs

Compared with other wealthy nations, US prices for drugs like semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro) are significantly higher, according to The Hill. A KFF analysis compared list prices of the drugs in the United States with those in the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The analysis reported that a 1-month Ozempic supply has a list price of $936 in the United States while the 9 other countries examined paid no more than $200. Insurance companies often do not cover weight loss medications as they consider obesity a cosmetic issue, but there is growing interest in covering these drugs. Consequently, lawmakers reintroduced the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act last month, which would expand Medicare coverage to weight loss services and medications. Supporters of the bill noted that obesity needs to be treated like a chronic illness.

Midwestern Cities Become Transgender Sanctuaries Amid Legislative Threats

Despite laws passed at the state level, an increasing number of Midwestern cities are declaring themselves safe havens for gender-affirming health care, according to The Hill. Many state legislatures across the Midwest are controlled by Republicans while the cities are more Democratic. Because of this, local leaders introduced resolutions to distinguish their policy priorities from those at the state level. City leaders noted that sanctuary resolutions will likely play a role in protecting gender-affirming health care access for transgender Midwesterners amid the worst year for anti-LGBT state legislation. Midwest communities where proposed health care bans are likely to fail also declared themselves safe havens for transgender youths and their families.

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