Scrutiny of Cold and Cough Medicines to Continue
The Food and Drug Administration isn't planning to ban over-the-counter cough and cold medicines in the near term, despite calls from leading pediatrician groups to do so, according to the Associated Press. The American Academy of Pediatrics is among the groups calling for the ban. The medicines have been under scrutiny since January when regulators urged parents not to give them to children under age 2. Many doctors say there's little proof the medicines actually work in children, and every year thousands of kids end up in the emergency room after misusing them. Government officials had been planning to decide by spring whether children under age 11 should take the medicines, but now they're calling for additional input from stakeholders. Officials haven't announced a new timetable for making a final recommendation. U.S. News's Nancy Shute recently blogged about why it's difficult to cut kids off their cold medicines. And, last year, a study emerged suggesting that honey was just as good a treatment as one common type of cold medicine.
VP Picks Clash Over Healthcare
Among other topics, vice presidential candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin sparred during last night's debate about their respective tickets' plans to manage the healthcare system. Palin, the Republican, said that her running mate John McCain's plan was budget-neutral and would give families a $5,000 dollar tax credit to purchase insurance. Biden, the Democrat, responded by calling the McCain plan the "ultimate bridge to nowhere" and said it would tax as income healthcare benefits obtained from employers. Prior to the debate, the Commonwealth Fund released a report asserting that McCain's plan would cover just 2 million of the projected 67 million people who will be uninsured 10 years from now, while Obama's plan would cover about 34 million of them, Reuters reports.
Earlier this year U.S. News' Michelle Andrews compared aspects of the two candidates' plans.
Rising Healthcare Costs Could Cripple Public Budgets
Healthcare could be the next financial Armageddon if costs continue to skyrocket, Dr. Bernadine Healy argues in a recent column. Costs are growing so fast that they're eating up state and federal budgets, overwhelming people's ability to afford premiums, and crushing families who must pay for their own care, she says. She points to new treatments and technologies as key factors fueling the increases, and argues it will take transparency about spending and fairer pricing to begin turning the tide. Also, all stakeholders—including doctors and patients—have to set rigid ideologies aside and focus on future sustainability, she says. For more U.S. News coverage of healthcare policy, see Michelle Andrew's On Health and Money blog. One of her recent posts explored the news that premiums are once again on the rise.
New HIV Shows Many Americans Have HIV and Don't Realize it
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly one in five HIV-positive Americans don't realize they're infected, Reuters reports. Overall, the new estimate, which was based on 2006 data, puts the total number of HIV cases at about 510,100 people. Gay men, or men who have sex with men, account for a large slice of the cases—48 percent of them, according to the CDC. Blacks, meanwhile, also carry much of the burden. Though they comprise only about 12 percent of the overall population, African-Americans account for 46 percent of those infected with HIV. And while black men were six times more likely to be infected than their white counterparts, black women are about 18 times more likely to be infected than white women, , according to the CDC.