Health Highlights: June 26, 2020

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Affordable Care Act

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Last month, President Donald Trump vowed to overturn the health reform legislation passed during the Obama presidency, and on Thursday his administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of a challenge to the ACA by a coalition of Republican attorneys general, the Washington Post reported.

The brief, which said “the entire ACA must fall,” was filed the same day that the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said 487,000 Americans recently used the special enrollment period on after losing their healthcare plans.

That’s 46% more enrollments than in April and May 2019, and many of the new enrollees are likely among the millions of people who lost their job during the pandemic, the Post reported.

Overturning the ACA would leave more than 23 million Americans without healthcare plans, according to the think tank, Center for American Progress.

In response to the brief, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that there is “no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care.”

On Wednesday, Pelosi filed a bill to expand the ACA, the Post reported.

Concerns that dismantling the ACA could worsen the coronavirus pandemic were dismissed by White House spokesman Judd Deere.

“A global pandemic does not change what Americans know: Obamacare has been an unlawful failure and further illustrates the need to focus on patient care,” Deere said in a statement to the Post.

Oral arguments in the ACA case are scheduled for the Supreme Court’s next term, but it’s not clear if they’ll take place before the election, and a decision may not come until 2021.


Black Americans Much More Likely Than Whites to Know Someone Who’s Died of COVID-19

Far more black Americans say they know someone personally who’s died of COVID-19 than whites, a new poll finds.

The rates were 31% of black adults, 17% of Hispanic adults and 9% of white adults, according to the Washington Post-Ipsos nationwide survey.

It also found that just over half of black Americans said they know at least one person who has gotten sick with COVID-19 or died from it, compared with fewer than 4 in 10 Hispanic or white Americans.

The poll’s findings highlight the significant racial differences in how Americans are being affected by the pandemic, according to the Post.

Experts say those differences are due to longstanding socioeconomic inequality.

“This pandemic has really unearthed — shone a real bright light on — the ways these disparities should not be accepted and are not tolerable,” Joseph Betancourt, vice president and chief equity and inclusion officer, Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Post.

The new poll also showed that 83% of black Americans believe trying to control the virus should take priority over reopening the economy.

Only about half of white Americans said the same thing in a Washington Post-ABC News poll last month.


20 Million Americans May Have Been Infected With New Coronavirus: CDC

About 20 million Americans may have been infected with the new coronavirus so far, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, which is nearly 10 times higher than the 2.3 million confirmed cases.

But even if 20 million people have been infected, that means only about 6% of 331 million Americans have had coronavirus, the Associated Press reported.

“It’s clear that many individuals in this nation are still susceptible,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told reporters. “Our best estimate right now is that for every case that was reported, there actually are 10 more infections.”

Previously, U.S. health officials said that many as 25% of infected people might not have symptoms.

“There’s an enormous number of people that are still vulnerable,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told the AP.

“It still remains a potentially lethal disease. It’s a roll of the dice for everybody who gets the illness. Also, you’re rolling the dice for other people who you may give the virus to,” Sharfstein warned.

Many cases of coronavirus cases are being missed due to gaps in testing, the AP reported.


People of Color Exempt From Mandatory Mask Rule in Oregon County

People of color are exempt from a mandatory mask policy in Oregon’s Lincoln County due to concerns about the risk of racial profiling.

A number of counties in the state have introduced face-covering rules during the coronavirus pandemic, and Lincoln county requires face coverings in any indoor public setting, or any outdoor setting where six feet of social distancing can’t be maintained, CBS News reported.

But the county’s website states: “People of color who have heightened concerns about racial profiling and harassment due to wearing face coverings in public” are exempt.

Children under the age of 12 and people with certain medical conditions or disabilities are also exempt, CBS News reported.