Lawsuits over baby formula head to Chicago court • How hospitals are responding to mask ruling • CDPH launches Instagram series

LAWSUITS OVER BABY FORMULA HEAD TO CHICAGO COURT: A collection of lawsuits filed throughout the country targeting Chicago companies Mead Johnson & Co. and Abbott Laboratories over allegations that their cow-based baby formulas are dangerous and sometimes deadly for premature infants will soon be heard before an Illinois judge.

Several suits filed across Illinois, Florida, California and other states are being centralized in multi-district litigation before Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, according to a transfer order filed with a United States Judicial Panel earlier this month. Public records show there are more than 40 cases filed under this litigation group.

The complaints allege that Mead and Abbott knowingly advertised and sold cow-based baby formulas that can cause necrotizing enterocolitis when fed to premature babies. The suits point to research indicating that premature babies’ digestive systems are unable to digest cow milk and instead should only be fed human milk at that age. READ MORE.

HEALTH SYSTEMS HESITATE TO LIFT MASK REQUIREMENTS: Many health systems and physician groups say they aren’t adjusting mask mandates, even though a federal judge struck down the law for airlines and public transportation, and many states and cities followed suit, including Illinois and Chicago.

Most health systems and physician groups say they will keep masking requirements, regardless of changes in other sectors. Meanwhile, others say they are easing the rules as COVID-19 infection rates decline, but they say those decisions were made independent of Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s ruling this week.

Modern Healthcare has more on how health systems, physician groups and medical associations are responding to the ruling.

CDPH LAUNCHES HEALTH DISPARITY INSTAGRAM SERIES: The Chicago Department of Public announced this week that it’s launching a new biweekly Instagram series about how health disparities, wellness, mental health and other issues affect the city’s Black community.

Called Dr. Taylor’s Table, the series will be hosted by Dr. Erica E. Taylor, the medical director for congregate settings at CDPH. The first edition took place last night and will continue bi-weekly on Thursday at 6 p.m. on CDPH’s Instagram, @ChiPublicHealth.

“I’m excited to establish a platform that will connect Black people with the resources, services and knowledge they need to live happy and healthy lives,” Taylor said in a statement. “CDPH is invested in building trust among the Black community, and my hope is that Dr. Taylor’s Table will serve as a sounding board for people seeking to take better care of themselves and each other.” 

LURIE SURVEY SAYS PARENTS WORRY ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE: The latest Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Voices of Child Health survey finds that nearly 75% of Chicago parents are "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" about climate change affecting their families, viewing the issue as a problem that can threaten their children’s health. The survey also found that more than two-thirds of parents worry about climate change in general.

“Young people are living with climate-related changes in the atmosphere at a time when their organs and immune systems are developing. Based on what is known about the importance of child health for patterns of health and illness throughout life, these climate-related effects may stay with them as they grow into adulthood,” Dr. Matthew M. Davis, chair of the Department of Medicine at Lurie Children’s and chair of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said in the statement.
The survey, administered to 1,620 Chicago parents by Lurie Children’s and NORC at the University of Chicago via internet and telephone, is administered to the same panel three times a year. Lurie Children’s said in the statement this is the first known study of Chicago parents’ view on climate change.

LUNG GROUP SAYS 137 MILLION IMPACTED BY SOOT: The American Lung Association’s 23rd annual State of the Air report shows nearly 9 million more people than last year’s report were impacted by particle pollution, or soot, which can be deadly.

The Chicago-based Lung Association’s annual air quality report card tracks and grades Americans’ exposure to unhealthy levels of short-term spikes in particle pollution—also known as soot—annual particle pollution and ground-level ozone air pollution—also known as smog—over a three-year period. 

The current report covers 2018-2020 and shows "an unacceptable number of Americans are still living in areas with poor air quality that could impact their health," Harold Wimmer, national president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in the statement. "More than 137 million Americans live in counties that had unhealthy levels of particle pollution or ozone. In addition, communities of color are disproportionately exposed to unhealthy air. The report found that people of color were 61% more likely than white people to live in a county with a failing grade for at least one pollutant, and 3.6 times as likely to live in a county with a failing grade for all three pollutants."

The report continues to show long-term improvement in the nation’s air quality thanks to decades of work to reduce emissions. However, this has been offset in part by the negative impacts of hotter, drier conditions caused by climate change. Wildfires in the western U.S. were responsible for a sharp rise in particle pollution spikes in several states. Overall, the report finds that 2.1 million more Americans live in counties with unhealthy air compared to last year’s report, and exposure to deadly particle pollution has gotten worse.

For the first time, the Lung Association included Puerto Rico air pollution data and listed pregnant people as a group at higher risk for harms associated with poor air quality.

Particle pollution from wildfires, wood-burning stoves, coal-fired power plants, diesel engines and other sources can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes; it also causes lung cancer, the statement said.

GTCR FORMS AVRYO HEALTHCARE WITH INDUSTRY VETERAN: Chicago-based health care private-equity firm GTCR said in a statement that its entered into partnership with Kelly McCrann to form a health care acquisition company called Avryo Health Services.

The new company will be based in San Diego and look for companies and assets in the multi-site health care services industry as part of a strategy to build a market-leading company focused on new technologies and operating strategies.

The partnership is one of GTCR’s Leaders Strategy deals in which it finds management leaders to help identify, acquire and build companies, the statement said. GTRC will invest in Avryo Healthcare from its Strategic Growth Fund, which has $2 billion of limited partner capital commitments.

McCrann most recently served as CEO of EyeCare Partners and is serving as executive chairman of Avryo Healthcare. McCrann will make a substantial investment alongside GTCR, according to the statement.

WAYS NEW PROSPECTIVE PAYMENT SYSTEM COULD IMPACT HOSPITALS: A new payment system proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is building on President Joe Biden’s administration’s priorities to better assess disparities in health care quality and improve patient outcomes.

Changes to the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System rule may result in more quality reporting measures and focus on data, Crain’s sister publication Modern Healthcare reports.

The recommended rule, released on Monday, discusses potential increases to inpatient hospital payments and cuts to Medicare disproportionate share hospital payments.

via Crain’s Chicago Business

April 22, 2022 at 07:10AM

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