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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky speaks during a COVID-19 response press briefing about new studies on the effectiveness of booster shots against the omicron variant on Jan. 21, 2022.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is stepping down at the end of June after 2½ tumultuous years leading the nation’s primary public health agency — and much of the Biden administration’s effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more»

The departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services will also end their requirements for Head Start educators, health care facilities that take Medicare and Medicaid and some foreign nationals crossing the border.

White House officials announced Monday that they will end the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees, contractors and international travelers when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends on May 11. Read more»

Separating a nursing home operation and its building into two corporations - often with the same owners - is a common practice around the country.

Nearly 9,000 for-profit nursing homes outsource crucial services such as nursing staff, management, medical supplies and even building ownership to affiliated corporations, known as “related parties,” that their owners own, invest in, or control - while patient care declined. Read more»

Many people who get coverage through their jobs also must select a plan at this time of year, and their decisions could be affected by new ACA rules.

Touting record-breaking enrollment for 2023, the Biden administration announced that around 3.1 million Americans are getting insurance for the first time under the federal Affordable Care Act - and there is still time to sign up before the Jan. 15 deadline. Read more»

In Arizona, Nevada and Texas, the rise in new Medicare-approved hospices since 2018 now accounts for around half of all hospices in each state - but these states don’t have 'certificate of need' requirements for hospices, which means there’s no strict limit to the number of providers that can open in a given area.

Bipartisan leaders of the Comprehensive Care Caucus called on the Department of Health and Human Services to “immediately investigate this situation" after an exposé of hospice fraud described how many profit-seeking hospices cut corners and target patients who are not dying. Read more»

Arizona officials are urging people to get flu shots this fall to avoid the double threat of flu and COVID-19, which they fear could overburden state hospitals.

With the winter holidays approaching, the Biden administration released a COVID-19 preparedness plan announcing access to free tests and vaccines as well as hospital staff support and equipment in anticipation of increased disease transmission. Read more»

A bird’s-eye view of the Fort Bliss emergency intake shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in September 2021 shows rows of white, warehouse-size soft-sided tents.

Hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children at an emergency intake shelter at Fort Bliss either faced unnecessary delays in being reunited with their families or were released to family or sponsors who had not had adequate background checks, an internal federal report shows. Read more»

Civil rights organizations and researchers have shown that charges for marijuana possession disproportionately affect Black and brown communities.

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced executive actions that would pardon thousands of people with prior federal offenses of simple marijuana possession and said he plans to call on governors to follow suit with state offenses related to simple marijuana possession. Read more»

Medicare Advantage must cover the same benefits as traditional Medicare, but the private plans have leeway when deciding how much nursing home care a patient needs.

Health care providers, nursing home representatives, and advocates for residents say Medicare Advantage plans are increasingly ending members’ coverage for nursing home and rehabilitation services before patients are healthy enough to go home. Read more»

The ruling also negates a mandate that students 2 and older be required to wear mask inside Head Start facilities and vehicles as well as in crowded outdoor settings.

A federal judge in Louisiana has issued a permanent injunction to block the Biden administration’s mandate that all Head Start program workers, volunteers and contractors be vaccinated for COVID-19. Read more»

States are making it easier for moms to keep Medicaid in the year after childbirth, a crucial time when depression and other health problems can develop.

A federal-state health care program for pregnant women is gaining momentum in a post-Roe America as 25 states have extended postpartum Medicaid coverage from two months to a full year after childbirth and eight additional states - including Arizona - have applications pending. Read more»

A boy stands just beyond the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Sonora in November 2021.

A federal judge in Washington D.C. approved a settlement Wednesday as part of a lawsuit from 2018 against Trump administration officials, after ruling that the practice of transferring immigrant children to adult detention facilities just as they turned 18 violated federal law. Read more»

State Sen. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, speaks with Dora Vasquez, the Executive Director of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans at a roundtable with community members about the Inflation Reduction Act in downtown Phoenix on Aug. 29, 2022. Deanna Mireau, 72, (left) and Joanne Romero, 74, (right) are listening in the foreground.

Retirees in Arizona struggle to divide monthly social security payments of $1,667 between rent, food and healthcare bills. Provisions in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act seek to ease some of that budget strain by introducing caps on rapidly rising Medicare costs. Read more»

Fauci will not just leave behind his role as NIAID director, but his position as chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation and Biden’s chief medical adviser.

Anthony Fauci, one of the federal government’s leading public health figures, announced he’ll be leaving his post as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in December, though he made clear he’s not retiring. Read more»

The federal government so far has distributed 700,000 vials of the monkeypox vaccine - Jynneos - nationwide.

Federal public health officials said Thursday they are working with state and local health departments to boost messaging and vaccinations for those most likely to contract monkeypox, including at large-scale events. Read more»

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