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What We’re Reading: Spending Package Excludes Health Care Priorities; US Racism Perception; Gender-Affirming Care Guidelines Update

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Congress is unlikely to include many major health care priorities in the next government funding package; many adults continue to see racism as a problem across aspects of US society; the Endocrine Society will review its clinical guidelines for gender-affirming care.

Congress Likely to Exclude PBMs, Other Health Care Priorities From Spending Package

Multiple sources determined that Congress is unlikely to include many major health care priorities in the next government funding package, according to The Hill. Only some of the programs facing imminent deadlines could be included in the legislation needed to fund the government by March 8, like community health center funding, a partial rollback of Medicare physician payment cuts, and a reversal of Medicaid cuts to hospitals serving low-income and uninsured patients. Conversely, although no final decisions have been made yet, potential reforms to the business practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) seem unlikely to make it into the funding package. According to Medriva, Congress has also decided not to include a site-neutral pay policy in the next funding package, which may potentially affect the cost of health care for millions of Americans. The site-neutral policy sought to eliminate hospitals from receiving higher payments than standalone physicians’ offices for the same outpatient services.

Survey Reports Views on Racism, Trust in Key US Institutions

Despite increased calls to address racism in recent years, many adults continue to see racism as a problem across US society, according to a survey conducted by KFF Health News. The KFF Health News 2023 Racism, Discrimination, and Health Survey documents the implications and extent of racism and discrimination, particularly concerning people’s interactions with the health care system. The key takeaways included that most adults say racism is at least a minor problem in US politics, policing, criminal justice, housing, employment, and health care. Also, most adults across racial and ethnic groups trust doctors and health care providers to do what is right for them and their community all or most of the time. Conversely, Black adults are less likely to trust health care providers, but having more visits with providers who have a shared racial background or language is associated with higher levels of trust. These findings emphasized the importance of continued efforts to address systemic and structural racism across various aspects of society, particularly in policing, politics, and the criminal justice system.

Major Medical Society Re-Examines Gender-Affirming Care Clinical Guidelines

The Endocrine Society, the major global medical association for endocrinologists, will review its clinical guidelines for gender-affirming care, according to CNN. These guidelines help the organization’s 18,000 members determine the best practices for providing care to those who are transgender and gender diverse. To update the guidelines, a committee consisting of both Endocrine Society members and non-members who are gender-affirming care experts will go through the latest findings to determine how to provide appropriate care to patients; it will take about 2 years to examine the material and about another year for the revised guidelines to come together. Although some US states recently restricted or banned such care, the society said this is a routine update not prompted by politics. Also, despite the political response to gender-affirming care, every major US medical association, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, agrees that gender-affirming care is clinically appropriate for children and adults.

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