Issue 24: Seema Verma, Bad Grandpa, Tripping Balls, Tortillas and more

Medicare chief says healthcare industry is slower than a stoned octogenarian
CMS Chief Seema Verma

Okay maybe those weren't her exact words but that's totally what she meant. Seema Verma was on CNBC last week to criticize the lack of price transparency in healthcare. Like for example you don't buy a car without knowing the price and then get a bill in the mail for $4.5 mil #itsalambo. But Seema has a solution to the price problem: to ask hospitals to post their prices online. So if you're going in to get an appendectomy you can go online and look at the exact freaking price. It's a radical idea and definitely a good start.  
Your grandparents might still be having sex
Bad Grandpa

A new survey revealed that 43% of seniors age 65-80 are still having sex and that 70% are actually satisfied with it. It also revealed that 50% of men are still interested in getting laid or "very interested," while only 12% of women said so. It turns out our seniors don't like to talk about sex with their healthcare providers; only 17% brought it up in the past two years. So we have two issues here. First is that there are more thirsty grandpas out there than grandmas, and that our physicians might not be asking enough questions regarding sexual history to their elderly patients. Let's face it, some elderly folks are less sexually deprived than you are.

Tripping balls on acid may help smokers quit tobacco

The Wall Street Journal recently did a deep dive on the various therapeutic effects of LSD and mushrooms that you should like totally check out here bro. Basically they summarized how in the 60's people got high AF for funsies, but fast-forward to today and it turns out psychedelic drugs can be extremely effective at treating anxiety, depression, the fear of dying that cancer patients frequently face, as well as the neuroses that prevent smokers from quitting. In a pilot study conducted at John Hopkins 15 volunteers were given magic mushrooms in a controlled setting and followed to assess smoking habits. After 6 months 80% had quit smoking and after 1 year 67% had quit. This completely blows standard cessation treatments out of the water. In addition to smoking cessation there is also currently a phase 3 clinical trial using mushrooms to treat patients with depression.

Tortilla? More like torti-no! 

During the Cinco de Mayo weekend, most people gorge themselves on tortilla chips (torti-yaaas!) without a care in the world! But for those with a dairy allergy, Utz Quality Foods had some bad news—they forgot to list milk as an ingredient on the label. This resulted in a massive tortilla chip recall across 32 different states including Alabama, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. For those unfortunate people who did buy them (and are allergic to dairy), Utz insists that these chips not be eaten and instead be returned to the store. Thankfully, there haven’t been any illnesses reported.

Eat Less Fast Food to Increase Chances of Getting Pregnant
nuggets nuggets nuggets

A new article found that women who like to eat fast food and less fruit might take 2-3 weeks longer to get pregnant than their counterparts. Although the study published in the Journal of Human Reproduction did not show difference in those who ate more leafy green vegetables as opposed to fresh fruits, it is perhaps safe to say that eating healthier food is better for getting pregnant than eating junk food. It could simply be that high saturated fat, sodium, and sugar content in fast food is worse for your body than the abundant antioxidants in fruits. I'm not sure why they did not specify vegetables to more than just leafy greens, but they got their point across. Stop having it your way if you want babies sooner.     

Trump vs. Planned Parenthood

Last week, a judge ruled against Trump’s block of Planned Parenthood grants. This is a big win for the organization, which has been under attack by the Trump administration since his presidential campaign. Specifically, the ruling determines that Trump cannot block certain grants that pay for teen pregnancy prevention programming. According to the judge, The US Department of Health and Human services “arbitrarily and capriciously” terminated the program. Cutting the program would have impeded research efforts, teen pregnancy prevention efforts, and general services offered by Planned Parenthood, which the representatives from Planned Parenthood said would have been devastating. The program has served over 1 million teens, and after this ruling, it will continue to be able to serve more teens in need.

New VA Choice Bill

The VA Choice Bill is back. There was a quit a bit of drama in the Veterans Affairs leadership, but this is old news. The new bill will allow VA patients to go see private doctors if their VA doctors think that is the best option. It will also allow the VA doctors to practice telemedicine in different states. Funding is another issue, however, as always. The proposed $5.2 billion in the new legislation will last a year, but a more sustainable plan is imperative. On another note, the VA Choice was the brainchild of the former head of VA, Dr. Shulkin, who was fired seemingly because he pushed for more engagement with the private sector and the VA. Our troops deserve great care, but a sound legislation and clinical implementation will perhaps set the tone for both public and private sectors. After all, telemedicine is here to stay and who says the VA cannot be at the forefront of tech? Just don't look at CPRS.

The NIH wants health data on 1 million people for precision medicine

The NIH announced that are spending >$1 billion dollars to construct a HUGE data set of 1 million people's health information. National enrollment for their All of Us Program began yesterday (may 6th). Anyone 18 or older will be able to sign up and have their EHR data be a part of the data set. The NIH plans to use this information to turn precision medicine from a buzzword into a reality cause it's like totally the future brah according to government experts. The NIH swears that the data will be secure and that hackers won't be able to get access to it.

NVIDIA is getting balls deep into medical imaging 
chillin with NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang

Lets be real low key NVIDIA has made a fortune with their GPU's (graphics processing units) powering the recent crypto and AI boom. Their CEO pretty much thinks he can do anything and well maybe he's right - that's why the company recently announced they are building an AI powered virtual imaging platform called Clara for radiologists. Their VP of healthcare, Kimberly Powell, says, “What we are building is a computing platform for medical imaging — it is a virtual medical imaging super computer. What we are doing is taking all the more recent, last five-ten years, modern computing [technologies] … like cloud, virtualization, and GPU and we are bringing it all together so that medical industry people can take advantage of it.” Sounds pretty dope.

Contributors for this week: