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5. Political Cartoon: 'Time Hangs Heavy'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Time Hangs Heavy'" by Matt Wuerker of Politico.

Here's today's health policy haiku:

OUT OF THE LAB, INTO THE MARKETPLACE

Biosimilars …
Do they work? Do they reduce
Prescription drug costs?

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Summaries Of The News:

Administration News

6. As Miami's Zika Cases Spike, CDC Issues Unprecedented Travel Warning For Pregnant Women

Following the confirmation of 10 new Zika cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women to stay away from a 1-square-mile area in northern Miami. The agency also recommends that all prenatal screenings should include questions about travel to Zika-infected areas.

The New York Times: Zika Surge In Miami Neighborhood Prompts Travel Warning
Federal health officials on Monday urged pregnant women to stay away from a Miami neighborhood where they have discovered additional cases of Zika infection — apparently the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people not to travel to a place in the continental United States. Florida officials said the number of Zika cases caused by local mosquitoes had risen to 14 from the four announced on Friday: 12 men and two women. They declined to say whether either woman was pregnant. All of the cases have been in one neighborhood. (Belluck, 8/1)

The Associated Press: CDC Warns Pregnant Women Against Zika-Stricken Part Of Miami
Government health officials warned pregnant women Monday to avoid a Zika-stricken part of Miami and told couples who have been there recently to put off having children for at least two months, after the number of people feared infected through mosquito bites in the U.S. climbed to 14. In its highly unusual and perhaps unprecedented travel warning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said expectant mothers should get tested for the virus if they have visited the neighborhood since mid-June. (8/1)

Health News Florida: CDC Issues Travel Advisory For Miami As 10 New Zika Cases Announced
Pregnant women are being asked to stay away from the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Zika-related travel warning for pregnant women to an area just north of Downtown Miami after 10 more people were suspected of getting the virus locally. Health officials have identified at least 14 apparently mosquito-borne Zika infections in a 1-square-mile area in and near Wynwood. (8/2)

The Washington Post: Zika Fear Prompts Travel Warning For Miami, CDC’s First In U.S.
“It is truly a scary situation,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is a really tough mosquito to control.” The travel warnings and growing outbreak mark a troubling but not unexpected turn for efforts to stem the virus’s spread through the United States, and they could have profound impacts on Florida’s tourism-heavy economy. It also demonstrates how even the best prepared communities may struggle to deal with a virus that spreads so readily. (Sun, Harwell and Dennis, 8/1)

Politico: CDC Issues Zika Travel Warning For Miami
[Gov. Rick] Scott has asked the CDC to send an emergency response team to Florida to help with mosquito control, sample collection, and investigating the virus. Previously, the CDC had sent a medical epidemiologist to the state but not the agency's full response team. (Cook, 8/1)

Modern Healthcare: Florida Zika Cases Prompt CDC'S First Travel Warning In U.S.
Some experts say the travel warning area is too small. Dr. Hotez, a tropical medicine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said the CDC should be more cautious and expand the travel advisory to all of Miami-Dade County. "If you're pregnant or think you might be pregnant, avoid travel to Miami, and possibly elsewhere in South Florida," he said. "I'm guessing most women who are pregnant are doing that. I don't think they're sitting around for the CDC to split hairs and fine-tune it to a specific area." (Johnson, 8/1)

Orlando Sentinel: Should You Get Tested For Zika If You Visited Miami? Here's What CDC Says
On Monday, after 14 cases of local Zika transmission were confirmed in a Miami neighborhood, federal health officials issued a travel advisory for that area for people how traveled to or lived there on or after June 15, 2016...Health officials continue to encourage residents to avoid mosquito bites by staying indoors and using mosquito repellents. They also ask people to empty all sources of standing water around their homes to eliminate breeding grounds for the mosquitoes. (Miller, 8/1)

Modern Healthcare: Florida Zika Cases May Put Added Strain On Safety Net Providers
Florida providers worry they might not be ready to serve a potential influx of Zika-infected patients. The concerns come after four Floridians became the first known cases to be infected by mosquitoes in the U.S. ... If transmission within the U.S. spreads, providers serving populations that have been identified as being the most vulnerable — the poor living in urban areas with inadequate housing conditions and environments that host pools of stagnant water — say they might not be ready as they face reductions in disproportionate-share payments. The CMS has been pushing back on DSH payments since it's believed states would see more patients covered through Medicaid expansion. (7/29)

In other Zika news —

Politico Pro: Congressional Inaction Bodes Poorly For Zika Vaccine
The Zika virus is fiendishly designed to evade the short attention span of Congress. The horrible birth defects caused by Zika grabbed the world’s notice eight months ago. But the mosquito-borne virus could disappear after a year or two, before periodically resurfacing and subsiding in coming years, scientists and public health officials say. That means it could end up being an irritating plague that never fully goes away but — given the current impasse over federal funding — fails to attract the necessary resources to develop an effective vaccine. (Allen and Cook, 8/1)

The CT Mirror: Blumenthal Calls For Emergency Session To Address Zika Virus
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is calling on Republican leaders in Congress to convene an emergency session to approve new federal funding to combat the Zika virus. Two other Connecticut lawmakers, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, echoed the sentiment after Blumenthal's Monday morning press conference in East Hartford. The push for legislative action comes as Florida’s governor announced as many as 14 cases of the Zika virus in his state may have been caused by mosquitos carrying the virus locally, according to the Associated Press. (Constable, 8/1)

Roll Call: Administration Sitting On Unspent Funds For Zika
The Obama administration is struggling to explain why it is pressing Congress for more money to fight the Zika virus while sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars that it already controls and could be used instead. ... The White House could tap into the $400 million that remain of the previously reprogrammed funds. An Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman confirmed Friday that $385 million is still in that account. The administration does not need congressional approval to decide how to spend the money. (Bennett, 8/2)

The Associated Press: Homegrown Zika Raises More Questions About The Evolving Risk
Homegrown mosquitoes have infected more than a dozen people with Zika in a small area of Miami, and officials are recommending that pregnant women stay away from the neighborhood. The Zika infections are the first from mosquito bites on the U.S. mainland. Scientists don't expect big outbreaks in U.S. states like those in hard-hit parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico. (8/1)

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