Senator Proposes New Models to Manage Weight Loss Drug Costs

Amid the recent FDA approval of tirzepatide for weight management, Sen Bill Cassidy (R, Louisiana) proposed that federal agencies take the lead on researching ways to transition people off weight loss medicines to keep costs down, according to STAT. Cassidy, the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate’s health policy committee, opposed President Joe Biden’s plan to manage weight loss drug costs, which would let the government negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies, arguing that it reduces incentives to develop new therapies and may not reduce patients’ costs. Cassidy and economists warned that it is not cost-effective for commercial insurers and federal health programs to pay for lifelong use of weight loss therapies, resulting in the proposal of his model. He explained that an economist suggested that the National Institutes of Health craft sponsored studies where a patient has a year’s worth of treatment and then has it substituted with dietary therapy, like meal deliveries, to reduce costs.

Young Black Students, Especially Boys, Underdiagnosed, Undertreated for ADHD

Black children are underdiagnosed and undertreated for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared with their White peers, according to KFF Health News. A Penn State report that followed more than 10,000 elementary students nationwide from kindergarten to fifth grade found that Black students received an ADHD diagnosis 40% less than White students; the researchers found young Black boys to be diagnosed 60% less than their White counterparts. This racial divide is deepening inequity for Black children, especially Black males. For example, studies have shown that ADHD underdiagnosis contributes to harsher school discipline and the “school-to-prison” pipeline as Black youth routinely face punishment for problem behavior and mental health conditions while White youth are more likely to receive medical diagnoses and treatment. To fix these inequities, mental health experts suggested increasing culturally sensitive screening and addressing Black families’ concerns about potential bias and racism.

Policy Makers Must Balance AI Innovation With Patient Safety, Lawmakers Say

Lawmakers and witnesses said during a Senate hearing on Wednesday that policy makers must balance innovation with potential harms to health care workers and patients when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) in health care, according to MedPage Today. At the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security hearing, Chair Edward Markey (D, Massachusetts) began by discussing the potential dangers of unregulated experimentation of AI in health care, warning that failing to produce effective AI in health care policies could jeopardize patient privacy or lead to misdiagnoses or mistreatment of patients. Several witnesses invited to testify agreed with Markey’s concerns, while some focused more on AI’s potential benefits. The subcommittee members explained their goal of balancing the protection of patients with allowing innovation to flourish, emphasizing the need for effective, thoughtful AI in health care policies.