Weekend update

Photo by Tomasz Filipek on Unsplash

From Washington DC,

  • The Wall Street Journal reports
    • “Congress heads into a make-or-break week for avoiding a government shutdown, with leaders of the Republican-controlled House hoping they can persuade GOP holdouts to get on board with four full-year bills and a short-term funding patch. 
    • “With a shutdown set for Oct. 1, unless Congress acts, the plan marks a last-ditch effort by Republicans to find a way forward. If no deal is reached, hundreds of thousands of federal workers are set to be furloughed.
    • “When it gets crunch time, people that have been holding off all this time blaming everybody else will finally hopefully move,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) told reporters Saturday.
    • “McCarthy laid out the path forward in a GOP conference call. The House is expected on Tuesday to vote on a rule establishing the parameters for debate on a defense-spending bill, a bill funding the Homeland Security Department, one funding the State Department and another funding agricultural priorities. 
    • “After that, McCarthy is expected to focus on a short-term spending deal ranging from two weeks to two months to keep the government funded while negotiations continue.”
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has posted its October 2023 Term calendar. The opening conference will be held on Tuesday, September 26. The first oral arguments will be held on October 2, 2023.
  • If history can be a guide, OPM will announce the 2024 FEHB premiums this week, along with the government contribution change.

From the public health front,

  • The Wall Street Journal informs us,
    • “The drug colchicine has been used for more than 2,000 years to treat the fiery joint-pain ailment called gout. It also is a remedy for a genetic disorder called familial Mediterranean fever and for pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac around the heart.
    • “Now, colchicine may be set for a surprising new role. In June, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new low-dose version of the drug as the first-ever medicine to treat cardiovascular inflammation, marking a new approach to heart attack prevention. 
    • “Several things could limit the adoption of colchicine by cardiologists, at least at first, including side-effect concerns and the emergence of several other new options for reducing the risk of heart attacks. But the drug’s approval provides fresh validation for a concept that has been gaining momentum in cardiology over the past 25 years—that inflammation is a key culprit in atherosclerosis, the artery-clogging disease, and that treating it can reduce the risk of a heart attack.
    • T”he bedrock strategy for heart-attack prevention has long been lowering LDL cholesterol with drugs called statins. Adding low-dose colchicine—which in one study reduced cardiovascular risk by 31% in patients already treated with statins and other preventive medicines—would enable doctors to simultaneously hit two biological targets that cause heart attacks. 
    • “This is about combining therapies” that are both effective ways to reduce risk, says Dr. Paul Ridker, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston. “They’re not in conflict; they’re synergistic.”
  • NPR Shots considers whether Ozempic causes mental health side effects.
  • The NY Times discusses the synthetic opioid epidemic plaguing many of the Nation’s large cities, like New York. This article focuses on “collateral damage.”
    • “Opioids have become the leading cause of child poisonings in the United States. More than 1,500 children died in fatal overdoses involving fentanyl in 2021, according to one study; over 100 were children under the age of 4.
    • “Officials have not confirmed whether fentanyl was the cause of death for Nicholas Feliz Dominici, the 1-year-old who died in the Bronx on Sept. 15, but three other children from the same day care were hospitalized that day after they were exposed to fentanyl. Days after the child died, the police discovered a trap door under a play area concealing large, clear storage bags filled with narcotics. The daycare’s operator and a man who lived in the apartment that housed the daycare have been arrested and charged with murder and criminal drug possession.
    • “The rising death toll comes as the city and the state have turned away from the aggressive law enforcement of low-level street drug activity that was common in the late 1990s. The shift has happened gradually over time, as a broader movement has pushed to reframe drug use as a public health crisis rather than as primarily a criminal issue.”

 In Medicare news, Fortune Well tells us about 2024 Medicare changes and other relevant matters as we approach the Medicare open enrollment period, which begins on October 15, 2023.

In business news,

  • HR Dive points out, “Employers have 44 days on average to “make or break” a new hire, and first impressions make a lasting impression, according to a Sept. 20 report from BambooHR, a cloud-based human resources platform.”
    • Creating a “buddy system” to pair new hires with experienced employees can make the onboarding experience stronger, according to a McLean & Co. report. The tenured employee can personalize the onboarding experience, serve as a contact person and provide advice about team processes or organizational culture.”