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Swap Funds or Add Services? Use of Opioid Settlement Cash Sparks Strong Disagreements

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Aneri Pattani
Mon, 15 Apr 2024 09:00:00 +0000

State and local governments are receiving billions of dollars in opioid settlements to address the drug crisis that has ravaged America for decades. But instead of spending the money on new addiction treatment and prevention services they couldn't afford before, some jurisdictions are using it to replace existing funding and stretch tight budgets.

Scott County, Indiana, for example, has spent more than $250,000 of opioid settlement dollars on salaries for its director and emergency medical services staff. The money usually budgeted for those salaries was freed to buy an ambulance and create a financial cushion for the health department.

In Blair County, Pennsylvania, about $320,000 went to a drug court the county has been operating with other sources of money for more than two decades.

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And in New York, some lawmakers and treatment advocates say the governor's proposed budget substitutes millions of opioid settlement dollars for a portion of the state addiction agency's normal funding.

The national opioid settlements don't prohibit the use of money for initiatives already supported by other means. But families affected by addiction, recovery advocates, and legal and public health experts say doing so squanders a rare to direct additional resources toward saving lives.

“To think that replacing what you're already spending with settlement funds is going to make things better — it's not,” said Robert Kent, former general counsel for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Certainly, the spirit of the settlements wasn't to keep doing what you're doing. It was to do more.”

Settlement money is a new funding stream, separate from tax dollars. It comes from more than a dozen companies that were accused of aggressively marketing and distributing prescription painkillers. States are required to spend at least 85% of the funds on addressing the opioid crisis. Now, with illicit fentanyl flooding the drug market and killing tens of thousands of Americans annually, the need for treatment and social services is more urgent.

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Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., have restricted the practice of substituting opioid settlement funds for existing dollars, according to state guides created by OpioidSettlementTracker.com and the public health organization Vital Strategies. A national set of principles created by Johns Hopkins University also advises against the practice, known as supplantation.

Paying Staff Salaries

Scott County, Indiana — a small, rural place known nationally as the site of an HIV outbreak in 2015 sparked by intravenous drug use — received more than $570,000 in opioid settlement funds in 2022.

From August 2022 to July 2023, the county reported using roughly $191,000 for the salaries of its EMS director, deputy director, and training officer/clinical coordinator, as well as about $60,000 for its health administrator. The county also awarded about $151,000 total to three community organizations that address addiction and related issues.

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In a public meeting discussing the settlement dollars, county attorney Zachary Stewart voiced concerns. “I don't know whether or not we're supposed to be using that money to add, rather than supplement, already existing resources,” he said.

But a couple of months later, the county council approved the allocations.

Council President Lyndi Hughbanks did not respond to repeated requests to explain this . But council members and county commissioners said in public meetings that they hoped to compensate county departments for resources expended during the HIV outbreak.

Their conversations echoed the struggles of many rural counties nationwide, which have tight budgets, in part because they poured money into addressing the opioid crisis for years. Now as they receive settlement funds, they want to recoup some of those expenses.

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The Scott County Health Department did not respond to questions about how the funds typically allocated for salary were used instead. But at the public meeting, it was suggested they could be used at the department's discretion.

EMS Chief Nick Oleck told KFF Health News the money saved on salaries was put toward loan payments for a new ambulance, purchased in spring 2023.

Unlike other departments, which are funded from local tax dollars and start each year with a full budget, the county EMS is mostly funded through insurance reimbursements for transporting , Oleck said. The opioid settlement funds provided enough cash flow to make payments on the new ambulance while his department waited for reimbursements.

Oleck said this use of settlement dollars will save lives. His staff needs vehicles to respond to overdose calls, and his department regularly trains area emergency responders on overdose response.

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“It can be played that it was just money used to buy an ambulance, but there's a lot more behind the scenes,” Oleck said.

Still, Jonathan White — the only council member to vote against using settlement funds for EMS salaries — said he felt the expense did not fit the money's intended purpose.

The settlement “was written to pay for certain things: helping people get off drugs,” White told KFF Health News. “We got drug rehab facilities and stuff like that that I believe could have used that money more.”

Phil Stucky, executive director of a local nonprofit called Thrive, said his organization could have used the money too. Founded in the wake of the HIV outbreak, Thrive employs people in recovery to to peers with mental health and substance use disorders.

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Stucky, who is in recovery himself, asked Scott County for $300,000 in opioid settlement funds to hire three peer specialists and purchase a vehicle to transport people to treatment. He ultimately received one-sixth of that amount — enough to hire one person.

In Blair County, Pennsylvania, Marianne Sinisi was frustrated to learn her county used about $322,000 of opioid settlement funds to pay for a drug court that has existed for decades.

“This is an opioid epidemic, which is not being treated enough as it is now,” said Sinisi, who lost her 26-year-old son to an overdose in 2018. The county received extra money to people, but instead it pulled back its own money, she said. “How do you expect that to change? Isn't that the definition of insanity?”

Blair County Commissioner Laura Burke told KFF Health News that salaries for drug court probation officers and aides were previously covered by a state grant and parole fees. But in recent years that funding has been inadequate, and the county general fund has picked up the slack. Using opioid settlement funds provides a small reprieve since the general fund is overburdened, she said. The county's most recent budget faces a $2 million deficit.

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Forfeited Federal Dollars

Supplantation can take many forms, said Shelly Weizman, project director of the addiction and public policy initiative at Georgetown University's O'Neill Institute. Replacing general funds with opioid settlement dollars is an obvious one, but there are subtler approaches.

The federal pours billions of dollars into addiction-related initiatives annually. But some states forfeit federal or decline to expand Medicaid, which is the largest payer of mental health and addiction treatment.

If those jurisdictions then use opioid settlement funds for activities that could have been covered with federal money, Weizman considers it supplantation.

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“It's really letting down the citizens of their state,” she said.

Officials in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, forfeited more than $1 million in federal funds from September 2022 to September 2023, the bulk of which was meant to support the construction of a behavioral health crisis stabilization center.

“We were probably overly optimistic” about spending the money by the grant deadline, said Diane Rosati, executive director of the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission.

Now the county plans to use $3.9 million in local and state opioid settlement funds to support the center.

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Susan Ousterman finds these developments difficult to stomach. Her 24-year-old son died of an overdose in 2020, and she later joined the Bucks County Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee, which developed a plan to spend the funds.

In a September 2022 email to other committee members, she expressed disappointment in the suggested uses: “Please keep in mind, the settlement funds are not meant to fund existing programs or programs that can be funded by other sources, such as federal grants.”

But Rosati said the county is maximizing its resources. Settlement funds will create a host of services, including grief groups for families and transportation to treatment facilities.

“We're determined to utilize every bit of funding that's available to Bucks County, using every funding source, every stream, and frankly every grant opportunity that comes our way,” Rosati said.

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The county's guiding principles for settlement funds demand as much. They say, “Whenever possible, use existing resources in order that Opioid Settlement funds can be directed to addressing gaps in services.”

Ed Mahon of PA contributed to this report.

——————————
By: Aneri Pattani
Title: Swap Funds or Add Services? Use of Opioid Settlement Cash Sparks Strong Disagreements
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/opioid-settlement-money-controversy-replacement-funds-budget-supplantation-addiction-services/
Published Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2024 09:00:00 +0000

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FDA Urged To Relax Decades-Old Tissue Donation Restrictions for Gay and Bisexual Men

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Rae Ellen Bichell
Fri, 24 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

The federal in 2020 and 2023 changed who it said could safely organs and blood, reducing the restrictions on who have had sex with another man.

But the FDA's restrictions on donated tissue, a catchall term encompassing everything from a person's eyes to their skin and ligaments, remain in place. Advocates, lawmakers, and groups focused on removing barriers to cornea donations, in particular, said they are frustrated the FDA hasn't heeded their calls. They want to align the guidelines for tissue donated by gay and bisexual men with those that apply to the rest of the human body.

Such groups have been asking the FDA for years to reduce the deferral period from five years to 90 days, meaning a man who has had sex with another man would be able to donate tissue as long as such sex didn't occur within three months of his death.

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One of the loudest voices on lightening the restrictions is Sheryl J. Moore, who has been an advocate since her 16-year-old son's death in 2013. Alexander “AJ” Betts Jr.'s internal organs were successfully donated to seven people, but his eyes were rejected because of a single question asked by the donor network: “Is AJ gay?”

Moore and a Colorado doctor named Michael Puente Jr. started a campaign called “Legalize Gay Eyes” and together got the attention of national eye groups and lawmakers.

Puente, a pediatric ophthalmologist with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado, said the current patchwork of donor guidelines is nonsensical considering advancements in the ability to test potential donors for HIV.

“A gay man can donate their entire heart for transplant, but they cannot donate just the heart valve,” said Puente, who is gay. “It's essentially a categorical ban.”

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The justification for these policies, set 30 years ago as a means of preventing HIV transmission, has been undercut by the knowledge gained through scientific progress. Now, they are unnecessary and discriminatory in that they focus on specific groups of people rather than on specific behaviors known to heighten HIV risk, according to those who advocate for changing them.

Since 2022, the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research has put changes to the tissue guidance on its agenda but has yet to act on them.

“It is simply unacceptable,” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said in a statement. He was one of dozens of members who signed a letter in 2021 that said the current deferral policies perpetuate stigma against gay men and should be based on individualized risk assessments instead.

“FDA policy should be derived from the best available science, not historic bias and prejudice,” the letter read.

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The FDA said in a statement to KFF that, “while the absolute risk transmission of HIV due to ophthalmic surgical procedures appears to be remote, there are still relative risks.”

The agency routinely reviews donor screening and testing “to determine what changes, if any, are appropriate based on technological and evolving scientific knowledge,” the statement said. The FDA provided a similar response to Neguse in 2022.

In 2015, the FDA got rid of a policy dubbed the “blood ban,” which barred gay and bisexual men from donating blood, before replacing it in 2023 with a policy that treats all prospective donors the same. Anyone who, in the past three months, has had anal sex and a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner is not allowed to donate. An FDA study found that, while men who have sex with men make up most of the nation's new HIV diagnoses, a questionnaire was enough to effectively identify low-risk versus high-risk donors.

The U.S. Public Health Service adjusted the guidelines for organ donation in 2020. Nothing prevents sexually active gay men from donating their organs, though if they've had sex with another man in the past 30 days — down from a year — the patient set to the organ can decide whether or not to accept it.

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But Puente said gay men like him cannot donate their corneas unless they were celibate for five years prior to their death.

He found that, in one year alone, at least 360 people were rejected as cornea donors because they were men who had had sex with another man in the past five years, or in the past year in the case of Canadian donors.

Corneas are the clear domes that protect the eyes from the outside world. They have the look and consistency of a transparent jellyfish, and transplanting one can restore a person's sight. They contain no blood, nor any other bodily fluid capable of transmitting HIV. Scientists suspect that's why there are no known cases of a patient contracting HIV from a cornea transplant, even when those corneas came from donors of organs that did infect recipients.

Currently, all donors, whether of blood, organs, or tissue, are tested for HIV and two types of hepatitis. Such tests aren't perfect: There is still what scientists call a “window period” following infection during which the donor's body has not yet produced a detectable amount of virus.

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But such windows are now quite narrow. Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nucleic acid tests, which are commonly used to screen donors, are unlikely to miss someone HIV unless they acquired it in the two weeks preceding donation. Another study estimated that even if someone had sex with an HIV-positive person a couple of weeks to a month before donating, the odds are less than 1 in a million that a nucleic acid test would miss that infection.

“Very low, but not zero,” said Sridhar Basavaraju, who was one of the researchers on that study and directs the CDC's Office of Blood, Organ, and Other Tissue Safety. He said the risk of undetected hepatitis B is slightly higher “but still low.”

At least one senior FDA official has indirectly agreed. Peter Marks, who directs the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, co-authored a report last year that said “three months amply covers” the window period in which someone might have the virus but at levels too low for tests to pick up. Scott Haber, director of public health advocacy at the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said his group's stance is that the tissue donation guideline “should be at least roughly in alignment” with that for blood donations.

Kevin Corcoran, who the Eye Bank Association of America, said the five-year abstinence required of corneal donors who are gay or bisexual isn't just “badly out of date” but also impractical, requiring grieving relatives to recall five years of their loved one's sexual history.

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That's the situation Moore found herself in on a July day in 2013.

Her son loved anime, show tunes, and drinking pop out of the side of his mouth. He was bad at telling jokes but good at helping people: Betts once replaced his little sister's lost birthday money with his own savings, she said, and enthusiastically chose to be an organ donor when he got his driver's license. Moore remembered telling her son to ignore the harassment by antigay bigots at school.

“The kids in show choir had told him he's going to hell for being gay, and he might as well just kill himself to save himself the time,” she recalled.

That summer, he did. At the hospital, as medical staff searched for signs of brain activity in the boy before he died, Moore found herself answering a list of questions from Iowa Donor Network, , she recalled: “Is AJ gay?”

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“I remember very vividly saying to them, ‘Well, what do you mean by, “Was he gay?” I mean, he's never had penetrative sex,'” she said. “But they said, ‘We just need to know if he was gay.' And I said, ‘Yes, he identified as gay.'”

The Iowa Donor Network said in a statement that the organization can't comment on Moore's case, but said, “We sincerely hope for a shift in FDA policy to align with the more inclusive approach seen in blood donation guidelines, enabling us to honor the decision of all individuals who want to save lives through organ and tissue donation.”

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Moore said her son's organs helped save or prolong the lives of seven other people, including a boy who received his heart and a middle-aged woman who received his liver. Moore sometimes exchanges messages with her on Facebook.

She found out a year later that her son's corneas were rejected as donor tissue because of that conversation with Iowa Donor Network about her son's sexuality.

“I felt like they wasted my son's body parts,” Moore said. “I very much felt like AJ was continuing to be bullied beyond the grave.”

——————————
By: Rae Ellen Bichell
Title: FDA Urged To Relax Decades-Old Tissue Donation Restrictions for Gay and Bisexual Men
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/tissue-donation-rules-fda-gay-bisexual-men-cornea-transplant/
Published Date: Fri, 24 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

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The Case of the Armadillo: Is It Spreading Leprosy in Florida?

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Sam Ogozalek, Tampa Bay Times
Fri, 24 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

GAINESVILLE, . — In an open-air barn at the edge of the of Florida, veterinarian Juan Campos Krauer examines a dead armadillo's footpads and ears for signs of infection.

Its claws are curled tight and covered in blood. Campos Krauer thinks it was struck in the head while crossing a nearby road.

He then runs a scalpel down its underside. He removes all the important organs: heart, liver, kidneys. Once the specimens are bottled up, they're destined for an ultra-cold freezer in his lab at the college.

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Campos Krauer plans to test the armadillo for leprosy, an ancient illness also known as Hansen's disease that can lead to nerve and disfigurement in humans. He and other scientists are trying to solve a medical mystery: why Central Florida has become a hot spot for the age-old bacteria that cause it.

Leprosy remains rare in the United States. But Florida, which often reports the most cases of any state, has seen an uptick in . The epicenter is east of Orlando. Brevard County reported a staggering 13% of the nation's 159 leprosy cases in 2020, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis of state and federal data.

Many questions about the phenomenon remain unanswered. But leprosy experts believe armadillos play a role in spreading the illness to people. To better understand who's at risk and to prevent infections, about 10 scientists teamed up last year to investigate. The group includes researchers from the University of Florida, Colorado State University, and Emory University in Atlanta.

“How this transmission is , we really don't know,” said Ramanuj Lahiri, chief of the laboratory research branch for the National Hansen's Disease Program, which studies the bacteria involved and cares for leprosy patients across the country.

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‘Nothing Was Adding Up'

Leprosy is believed to be the oldest human infection in history. It probably has been sickening people for at least 100,000 years. The disease is highly stigmatized — in the Bible, it was described as a punishment for sin. In more modern times, patients were isolated in “colonies” around the world, in Hawaii and Louisiana.

In mild cases, the slow-growing bacteria cause a few lesions. If left untreated, they can paralyze the hands and feet.

But it's actually difficult to fall ill with leprosy, as the infection isn't very contagious. Antibiotics can cure the ailment in a year or two. They're available for through the federal government and the World Health Organization, which launched a campaign in the 1990s to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem.

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In 2000, reported U.S. cases dropped to their lowest point in decades with 77 infections. But they later increased, averaging about 180 per year from 2011 to 2020, according to data from the National Hansen's Disease Program.

During that time, a curious trend emerged in Florida.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the state logged 67 cases. Miami-Dade County noted 20 infections — the most of any Florida county. The vast majority of its cases were acquired outside the U.S., according to a Times analysis of Florida Department of Health data.

But over the next 10 years, recorded cases in the state more than doubled to 176 as Brevard County took center stage.

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The county, whose population is about a fifth the size of Miami-Dade's, logged 85 infections during that time — by far the most of any county in the state and nearly half of all Florida cases. In the previous decade, Brevard noted just five cases.

Remarkably, at least a quarter of Brevard's infections were acquired within the state, not while the individuals were abroad. India, Brazil, and Indonesia diagnose more leprosy cases than anywhere, reporting over 135,000 infections combined in 2022 alone. People were getting sick even though they hadn't traveled to such areas or been in close contact with existing leprosy patients, said Barry Inman, a former epidemiologist at the Brevard health department who investigated the cases and retired in 2021.

“Nothing was adding up,” Inman said.

A few patients recalled touching armadillos, which are known to carry the bacteria. But most didn't, he said. Many spent a lot of time outdoors, including lawn workers and avid gardeners. The cases were usually mild.

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It was difficult to nail down where people got the illness, he added. Because the bacteria grow so slowly, it can take anywhere from nine months to 20 years for symptoms to begin.

Amoeba or Insect Culprits?

Heightened awareness of leprosy could play a role in Brevard's groundswell of cases.

Doctors must report leprosy to the health department. Yet Inman said many in the county didn't know that, so he tried to educate them after noticing cases in the late 2000s.

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But that's not the sole factor at play, Inman said.

“I don't think there's any doubt in my mind that something new is going on,” he said.

Other parts of Central Florida have also recorded more infections. From 2011 to 2020, Polk County logged 12 cases, tripling its numbers compared with the previous 10 years. Volusia County noted 10 cases. It reported none the prior decade.

Scientists are honing in on armadillos. They suspect the burrowing critters may indirectly cause infections through soil contamination.

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Armadillos, which are protected by hard shells, serve as good hosts for the bacteria, which don't like heat and can thrive in the animals whose body temperatures range from a cool 86-95 degrees.

Colonists probably brought the disease to the New World hundreds of years ago, and somehow armadillos became infected, said Lahiri, the National Hansen's Disease Program scientist. The nocturnal mammals can develop lesions from the illness just as humans can. More than 1 million armadillos occupy Florida, estimated Campos Krauer, an assistant professor in the University of Florida's Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

How many carry leprosy is unclear. A study published in 2015 of more than 600 armadillos in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi found that about 16% showed evidence of infection. Public health experts believe leprosy was previously confined to armadillos west of the Mississippi River, then spread east.

Handling the critters is a known hazard. Lab research shows that single-cell amoebas, which live in soil, can also carry the bacteria.

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Armadillos love to dig up and eat earthworms, frustrating homeowners whose yards they damage. The animals may shed the bacteria while hunting for food, passing it to amoebas, which could later infect people.

Leprosy experts also wonder if insects spread the disease. Blood-sucking ticks might be a culprit, lab research shows.

“Some people who are infected have little to no exposure to the armadillo,” said Norman Beatty, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida. “There is likely another source of transmission in the environment.”

Campos Krauer, who's been searching Gainesville streets for armadillo roadkill, wants to gather infected animals and let them decompose in a fenced-off area, allowing the remains to soak into a tray of soil while flies lay eggs. He hopes to test the dirt and larvae to see if they pick up the bacteria.

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Adding to the intrigue is a leprosy strain found only in Florida, according to scientists.

In the 2015 study, researchers discovered that seven armadillos from the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is mostly in Brevard but crosses into Volusia, carried a previously unseen version of the pathogen.

Ten patients in the region were stricken with it, too. At the genetic level, the strain is similar to another type found in U.S. armadillos, said Charlotte Avanzi, a Colorado State University researcher who specializes in leprosy.

It's unknown if the strain causes more severe disease, Lahiri said.

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Reducing Risk

The public should not panic about leprosy, nor should people race to euthanize armadillos, researchers warn.

Scientists estimate that over 95% of the global human population has a natural ability to ward off the disease. They believe months of exposure to respiratory droplets is needed for person-to-person transmission to occur.

But when infections do happen, they can be devastating.

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“If we better understand it,” Campos Krauer said, “the better we can learn to live with it and reduce the risk.”

The new research may also insight for other Southern states. Armadillos, which don't hibernate, have been moving north, Campos Krauer said, reaching areas like Indiana and Virginia. They could go farther due to climate change.

People concerned about leprosy can take simple precautions, medical experts say. Those working in dirt should wear gloves and wash their hands afterward. Raising garden beds or surrounding them with a fence may limit the chances of soil contamination. If digging up an armadillo burrow, consider wearing a face mask, Campos Krauer said.

Don't play with or eat the animals, added John Spencer, a scientist at Colorado State University who studies leprosy transmission in Brazil. They're legal to hunt year-round in Florida without a license.

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Campos Krauer's team has so far examined 16 dead armadillos found on Gainesville area roads, more than 100 miles from the state's leprosy epicenter, trying to get a preliminary idea of how many carry the bacteria.

None has tested positive yet.

This article was produced through a partnership between KFF Health and the Tampa Bay Times.

——————————
By: Sam Ogozalek, Tampa Bay Times
Title: The Case of the Armadillo: Is It Spreading Leprosy in Florida?
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/leprosy-armadillo-florida-cases-on-rise-research/
Published Date: Fri, 24 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

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KFF Health News’ ‘What the Health?’: Anti-Abortion Hard-Liners Speak Up

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Thu, 23 May 2024 19:15:00 +0000

The Host

Julie Rovner
KFF Health News


@jrovner


Read Julie's stories.

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Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent and host of KFF Health News' weekly health policy news podcast, “What the Health?” A noted expert on health policy issues, Julie is the author of the critically praised reference book “ Politics and Policy A to Z,” now in its third edition.

With abortion shaping up as a key issue for the November elections, the movement that united to overturn Roe v. Wade is divided over going further, faster — including by punishing those who have abortions and banning contraception or IVF. Politicians who oppose abortion are already experiencing backlash in some states.

Meanwhile, bad actors are bilking the health system in various new ways, from switching people's insurance plans without their consent to pocket additional commissions, to hacking the of major health and demanding millions of dollars in ransom.

This 's panelists are Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Rachel Roubein of The Washington Post, and Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins schools of public health and nursing and Politico Magazine.

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Panelists

Alice Miranda Ollstein
Politico


@AliceOllstein


Read Alice's stories.

Joanne Kenen
Johns Hopkins University and Politico

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@JoanneKenen


Read Joanne's articles.

Rachel Roubein
The Washington Post


@rachel_roubein

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Read Rachel's stories.

Among the takeaways from this week's episode:

  • It appears that abortion opponents are learning it's a lot easier to agree on what you're against than for. Now that the constitutional right to an abortion has been overturned, political leaders are contending with vocal groups that want to push further — such as by banning access to IVF or contraception.
  • A Louisiana bill designating abortion pills as controlled substances targets people in the , where abortion is banned, who are finding ways to get the drug. And abortion providers in Kansas are suing over a new law that requires to their reasons for having an abortion. Such state laws have a cumulative chilling effect on abortion access.
  • Some Republican lawmakers seem to be to dodge voter dissatisfaction with abortion restrictions in this election year. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama introduced legislation to protect IVF by pulling Medicaid funding from states that ban the fertility procedure — but it has holes. And Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland declared he is pro-choice, even though he mostly dodged the issue during his eight years as governor.
  • Former is in the news again for comments that seemed to the door open to restrictions on contraception — which may be the case, though he is known to make such vague policy suggestions. Trump's policies as president did restrict access to contraception, and his allies have proposed going further.

Also this week, Rovner interviews Shefali Luthra of The 19th about her new book on abortion in post-Roe America, “Undue Burden.”

Plus, for “extra credit,” the panelists suggest health policy stories they read this week that they think you should read, too: 

Julie Rovner: The 19th's “What Happens to Clinics After a State Bans Abortion? They Fight To Survive,” by Shefali Luthra and Chabeli Carrazana. 

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Alice Miranda Ollstein: Stat's “How Doctors Are Pressuring Sickle Cell Patients Into Unwanted Sterilizations,” by Eric Boodman.  

Rachel Roubein: The Washington Post's “What Science Tells Us About Biden, Trump and Evaluating an Aging Brain,” by Joel Achenbach and Mark Johnson.  

Joanne Kenen: ProPublica's “Toxic Gaslighting: How 3M Executives Convinced a Scientist the Forever Chemicals She Found in Human Blood Were Safe,” by Sharon Lerner; and The Guardian's “Microplastics Found in Every Human Testicle in Study,” by Damian Carrington. 

Also mentioned on this week's podcast:

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Credits

Francis Ying
Audio producer

Emmarie Huetteman
Editor

To hear all our podcasts, click here.

And subscribe to KFF Health News' “What the Health?” on SpotifyApple PodcastsPocket Casts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

——————————
Title: KFF Health News' ‘What the Health?': Anti-Abortion Hard-Liners Speak Up
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/podcast/anti-abortion-hard-liners-speak-up/
Published Date: Thu, 23 May 2024 19:15:00 +0000

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