Trending News Today: Disparities Exist for Patients with Sickle Cell Disease

Despite bleak projections, more than 8.7 million Americans enrolled in health coverage for 2018 through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces, according to The New York Times. The final tally was 80,000 fewer than the initial count due to cancellations; however, enrollment on HealthCare.gov reached 95% of 2017’s customers, which drastically outperformed the prediction that 1 to 2 million fewer individuals would sign up for ACA plans, according to the Times.

The 2.3% medical device tax went back into effect on January 1, 2018, after originally being implemented in 2013 as a way to pay for the ACA, according to The Washington Post. This tax was strongly opposed by medical device manufacturers, Republicans, and Democrats, which lead to Congress suspending the tax for 2016 and 2017. Although lawmakers expected the tax to be eliminated altogether by 2018, the tax bill did not repeal the law, according to the article. However, lowering corporate taxes from 35% to 21% may mitigate some effects from the medical device tax, The Post reported.

Patients with sickle cell disease face a threat of early mortality, severe adverse events, and inadequate treatments. Many patients and their loved ones believe that efforts to combat sickle cell disease are slow, underfunded, and ineffective, which results in significant disparities, according to Kaiser Health News. With annual medical costs that can exceed $1 billion, new efforts to fight sickle cell disease are desperately needed. The FDA recently approved the first new treatment in 20 years, but payers are skeptical of its efficacy, Kaiser reported. Additionally, a bill originally proposed in 2009 will only provide $4 million to fund research, a fraction of the initial funding, according to the article.

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