President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act into law "to help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service," in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia, Illinois, and New York.
- District of Columbia: President Biden on Wednesday signed the PACT Act into law, hailing the legislation as "the most significant law our nation has ever passed to help millions of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service." According to President Biden, as a nation, "we have many obligations, but only one truly sacred obligation ... to equip those we send into harm's way, and to care for them and their families when they come home." Under the law, veterans exposed to toxic substances while deployed will gain access to expanded health care and disability benefits. In addition, families of veterans who died because of toxic exposure will receive a monthly stipend of $2,000. Biden encouraged eligible veterans to file claims as soon as possible, saying that "the VA will move as quickly as possible to resolve your claim and get you the benefits and the care you've earned." (Frieden, MedPage Today, 8/10)
- Illinois: GoHealth on Tuesday announced that it laid off 20% of its 4,000-person workforce. In a public letter, the health insurance brokerage notified employees that about 800 agents and support staff were let go. The layoff followed a decline in digital health funding, which resulted in job cuts at tech startups. "It was only after an exhaustive analysis of our business needs and extensive consideration that we agreed this was the path forward to secure our long-term future," GoHealth CEO Vijay Kotte wrote in the letter. (Tepper, Modern Healthcare, 8/10)
- New York: U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on Wednesday ruled that Walgreens Boots Alliance contributed to San Francisco's opioid epidemic through the sale of prescription drugs. According to the ruling, Walgreens did not conduct adequate investigations into suspicious opioid prescriptions between 2006 and 2020. During that time, the company's pharmacists filled hundreds of thousands of suspicious opioid prescriptions, but were not given sufficient time, staffing, or resources to properly investigate suspicious orders, Breyer wrote. Breyer concluded that San Francisco had shown that the company's practices led to illegal drug use that contributed to the city's opioid epidemic. Walgreens said it intends to appeal the ruling. "We never manufactured or marketed opioids, nor did we distribute them to the 'pill mills' and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis," said Walgreens spokesperson Fraser Engerman. (Knauth, Reuters, 8/10)