What We're Reading: Medicaid Can Pay for Mosquito Repellent to Fight Zika Spread

What we're reading, June 2, 2016: Medicaid can cover mosquito repellent to prevent the spread of the Zika virus; Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, discusses New Orleans post-Katrina, life expectancy, and more; and teen births hit an all-time low.

Federal regulators have announced that Medicaid can be used to cover mosquito repellent to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. According to USA Today, repellent, when prescribed by a health professional, can be covered by Medicaid in order to protect low-income people from the virus. States can also make optional diagnostic and screening Medicaid services available to adults concerned about Zika. And Medicaid programs are required to cover medically necessary diagnostic services related to detecting Zika, including diagnosis of birth defects.

In a 47-minute podcast with POLITICO, Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, acting assistant secretary for health in HHS and national coordinator for health information technology, discussed how New Orleans changed post-Katrina and her perspective from being the New Orleans health commissioner at the time; the decline in white life expectancy; and the nation’s progress on digital records.

While some American health statistics are moving in the wrong direction, the teen birth rate has fallen to an all-time low. Over the past 8 years, teen births have dropped 46% to a rate of 22.3 live births per 1000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19, reported STAT. Teen births among Hispanic and black teens remain twice as common as among white teens, but the rate among those populations has fallen by almost half in the last decade. Easier access to contraception drove the decline in teen pregnancies, according to experts.