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October 5, 2022

Around the nation: HHS declares a public health emergency in Florida

Daily Briefing

    As Hurricane Ian approached, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra last week declared a public health emergency (PHE) in Florida to ensure access to care, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, the District of Columbia, and Georgia.

    • California: Kaiser Permanente last week announced a $50 million investment between 2022 and 2030 to help improve food security in the United States. According to a Health Affairs report, individuals who are food insecure face a higher risk of health challenges, including chronic diseases, increased hospitalizations, higher costs, and mental health challenges. The health system plans to focus on four areas to address nutrition, including partnerships with publicly funded programs to assist Kaiser members experiencing food insecurity, expanding nutrition programs to certain populations, making strategic investments in the community, and entering more partnerships with private businesses. "We can't do this alone," said Pam Schwartz, Kaiser's executive director of community health. "It's too big and complicated. So it's going to take all hands on deck and also partnering in new ways. So our commitment also engaged other organizations to come to the table and roll up our sleeves together." (Plescia, MedCity News, 10/3)
    • District of Columbia: As Hurricane Ian approached, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra last week declared a PHE in Florida to ensure access to health care services and items. Under the PHE, HHS lifted or modified certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements. HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency dispatched teams to help manage medical and emergency services in Florida. HHS' National Disaster Medical System, Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and CDC were also prepared to provide additional support as needed. The state relied on HHS data to help accommodate Medicare beneficiaries who use electricity-dependent medical equipment and services. (AHA News, 9/27)
    • Georgia: CDC on Friday announced that six people in New Jersey, California, Texas, Michigan, Georgia, and Massachusetts had been infected by a listeria outbreak. As of Friday, five of the six infected individuals had been hospitalized, with no reported deaths. "The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses," CDC said. "This is because some people recover without medical care and are not tested for listeria." State and local health officials conducted interviews to determine what the infected individuals ate before they became ill. Notably, four of the infected individuals reported eating brie or camembert cheese but said they did not remember the brand. One individual said they consumed Lidl Premium Brand Brie—a product that is manufactured by Old Europe Cheese. According to FDA, Old Europe Cheese has issued a voluntary recall of its brie and camembert cheeses that have a best-by date of Dec. 14, 2022. The products were sold in several retailers, including Albertsons, Whole Foods, and Safeway. Individuals who purchased the recalled products "are urged not to consume it and discard the product," FDA said. (Scribner, Axios, 10/1)

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