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What We’re Reading: Minority Group Insurance Rates Increase; Drug Industry Patent Fight Continues; New NIH Primary Care Research Initiative

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Uninsured rates among minority groups plummeted between 2010 and 2022; Democrat lawmakers are challenging drug patents that they believe are deliberate attempts to eliminate low-cost, generic competitors; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is piloting a nationwide network for primary care research.

Insurance Rates Increase Among US Minority Populations

Reports released Friday by HHS show that uninsured rates among minority racial/ethnic groups plummeted between 2010 and 2022, according to The Hill. More specifically, the uninsured rate among Black Americans fell from 20.9% in 2010 to 10.8% in 2022, and the uninsured rate dropped from 32.7% to 18% among Latinos. Also, the uninsured rate among Asians Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders dropped from 16.6% to 6.2%. This increase in insured minority groups has been attributed to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which went into effect under the Obama administration in 2010. Accompanying the release of these data, the Biden administration announced a $500 million investment in the HHS Navigators program, which aims to help Americans gain coverage under the ACA; this money will be issued in grants over the next 5 years.

Democrats Continue Drug Industry Patent Fight to Help Lower Prices

Lawmakers are challenging drug patents that they believe are deliberate attempts to eliminate low-cost, generic competitors, according to the Washington Post. Sen Elizabeth Warren (D, Massachusetts) and Rep Pramila Jayapal (D, Washington) wrote to 8 pharmaceutical company CEOs this week, urging them to remove 130 patents from the federal registry commonly known as the Orange Book that contains drug industry patents; they are targeting Novo Nordisk, GlaxoSmithKline, and other companies that produce diabetes and asthma medications. These 130 patents are among the more than 300 patents that the Federal Trade Commission identified in April as “junk patent listings” that are blocking the production of cheaper alternatives and should be removed. Today is the deadline for the companies to either remove the patents or reaffirm that the patents are legal.

NIH Pilots Primary Care Research Initiative

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced Thursday that it is piloting a nationwide network for primary care research to increase the presence of underserved populations in clinical research and improve community-based primary care, according to Modern Healthcare. NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli, MD, said in a news release that NIH intends to improve patient outcomes with the Communities Advancing Research Equity for Health (CARE for Health) initiative by increasing clinical trial participation and expanding communities’ access to scientific research; it aims to engage patients of different races, ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Therefore, NIH-funded primary care sites and clinical research networks will collaborate to conduct research on health issues affecting local patient populations. For this pilot, NIH will award $30 million in fiscal years 2024 and 2025, with initial funding going toward those who serve rural communities.

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