Good evening, readers.
The Trump administration made a pretty significant move today on health care policy—President Trump issued an executive order on Medicare aiming to further privatize the public program, which covers some 60 million elderly and disabled Americans.
To be clear, Medicare already contains a significant private component. More than 20 million beneficiaries (or about a third total) are covered under the Medicare Part C "Medicare Advantage" program, which incorporates supplemental private coverage. Millions also subscribe to the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.
But the new Trump administration proposal appears to squarely target "Medicare-for-All" proposals from Democratic politicians and set up a starkly contrasting program that favors the private market.
"Instead of ending the current Medicare program and eliminating health choices for all Americans, my Administration will continue to protect and improve Medicare by building on those aspects of the program that work well, including the market-based approaches in the current system," wrote the White House in a statement. "The [private Medicare Advantage] component, for example, delivers efficient and value-based care through choice and private competition, and has improved aspects of the Medicare program that previously failed seniors."
The politics of health care tend to be convoluted. Right now, we're in a debate about whether or not traditional Medicare is better than non-traditional Medicare, and whether expanding one or the other would hurt... Medicare.
Read on for the day's news.
Intel, Brown University team up on “intelligent spinal interface.” Intel and Brown University have teamed up on a spine research project funded by a $6.3 million grant from DARPA. “The idea is to record signals traveling down the spinal cord above an injury site and use them to drive electrical spinal stimulation below the lesion,” according to the researchers. “At the same time, information coming up the cord from below will be used to drive stimulation above the injury. The device could potentially help to restore both volitional control of limbs muscles as well as feeling and sensation lost due to injury.”
FDA approves another Gilead drug for HIV prevention. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Gilead’s Descovy in order to prevent transmission of HIV. It’s a big win for the company, which already manufactures Truvada, a “PrEP” pill that’s been stunningly effective in stopping HIV infection. But Gilead has to turn to a new drug as Truvada faces generic competition in as little as a year from now. Time will tell whether or not the company can stave off generic rivals more effectively than it did for its franchise hepatitis C medications. (Reuters)
THE BIG PICTURE
Fungus can drive cancer in the pancreas. A new study in the journal Nature finds that your gut can actually exacerbate cancer—at least when it comes to pancreatic cancer. Fungi present in the stomach may actually leach into your pancreas and, potentially, lead to a proliferation of pancreatic tumors. (New York Times)
How the Man Who Nailed Madoff Got GE Wrong, by Shawn Tully
How ‘Recession-Proof’ Is Your Job? by Anne Fisher
Scrutinizing the Growing Business of Migrant Childcare in the U.S., by The Associated Press
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