What We're Reading: Vaccine Mandate Hold Extended; Medicare Premiums Spike; Booster Eligibility Expands

Appeals court affirms decision to place a hold on the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers; rising Medicare premiums linked with controversial Alzheimer drug; 3 states expand COVID-19 booster shot eligibility to all adults.

Appeals Court Affirms Hold on Employer Vaccine Mandate

Despite arguments from the Department of Justice saying that requirements for large companies to adhere to COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing and mask wearing were necessary and had legal standing, on Friday an appeals court affirmed its ruling to keep the mandate on hold. Reported by Reuters, the 3-member panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, noted in its ruling that the mandate was overbroad and did not account for differences in workplaces and workers. Other challenges to the mandate remain in other Circuit courts, with the Supreme Court expected to eventually decide the matter.

Controversial Alzheimer Drug Linked to Medicare Premium Rise

As reported by The Hill, premiums for seniors on Medicare will increase by more than $20 per month next year, with the controversial Alzheimer drug aducanumab cited as a major contributing factor to the rise in cost. As one of the largest increases in recent years, the Biden administration announced Friday that Medicare Part B premiums will increase by $21.60, from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 in 2022. Half of the increase was indicated to be due to contingency planning for financing the Alzheimer drug, which costs $56,000 per year. Administration officials said that the growth in costs will be greatly offset by large cost-of-living increases given to Medicare recipients in their Social Security payments next year.

COVID-19 Booster Shots Expand to All Adults in 3 States

Amid growing research suggesting a waning protection for people vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 and a rising trend in breakthrough cases, CBS News reports that California, Colorado, and New Mexico have expanded eligibility for booster shots to all adults aged 18 and older. With booster access currently available for seniors and other high-risk individuals, the decision by the 3 states, who have some of the highest rates of new COVID-19 infections nationwide, will be in defiance of the FDA and CDC recommendations. Other states were noted to be considering lifting age restrictions as well.