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What We’re Reading: VA Commission Rejected; New Census Data; HHS Guidance on Patient Privacy


Senators did not approve the 9-nominee commission to reshape the Veteran Affairs health care system; US population is getting older and more diverse; HHS issued guidance to protect patient privacy related to sexual and reproductive care.

Senators Reject Commission to Reshape Veteran Affairs

A bipartisan group of 12 senators decided not to approve the 9 nominees for a Veteran Affairs (VA) commission that would reshape the VA health care system, The Washington Post reported. As part of this reshaping, the commission would be tasked with weighing recommendations from 1200 VA hospitals and clinics, hold hearings in affected areas, and modernize outdated hospitals. According to the 12 senators, major reasons for this decision were high costs, short time frame, and past recommendations that the senators deemed not reflective of a common final goal.

US Population Getting Older, More Diverse

According to updated Census Bureau data, the US population is continuing a trend seen over the last 2 decades where it is getting older and more diverse. The Washington Post reported that, since 2000, the median age increased by 3.4 years to 38.8, with 47 states seeing an increase median age between 2020 and 2021. The Census data also showed an increase in all non-White race and ethnicity groups between 2020 and 2021, while the White population declined by .03%. In the same period, the Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander population grew the fastest, increasing by 1.54%, while the Hispanic population grew the most numerically by 767,907 people.

HHS Guidance Seeks to Protect Reproductive Health Information

HHS issued guidance Wednesday that health care providers are not required to disclose individuals’ private health information relating to sexual and reproductive care, and are often legally prohibited from doing so. As reported by Bloomberg, this guidance was announced as an effort by the Biden administration to assure that sensitive information related to reproductive health, including abortions, can be protected from law enforcement following the overturning of Roe v Wade. Separate from the guidance, the Biden administration is preparing a letter to be sent as soon as this week requesting that the Federal Trade Commission protects women’s privacy when seeking care or disclosing personal information regarding reproductive health care, including preventing companies from collecting and selling certain data on apps.

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