Category Archives: Health Care

World’s Largest Medical Mask Maker Ramping Up Production

A NIOSH N95 particulate respirator by 3M that can filters at least 95% of airborne particles. Photo courtesy of Banej

President Donald Trump called into play what is known as the Defense Production Act in order to confront the ever-worsening coronavirus pandemic with increased production of desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPEs). This act requires private industry to re-purpose their factories and to greatly step-up production for the singular effort of producing the needed supplies to properly face the deadly pandemic that is wreaking havoc on the country, especially in New York City.

One such manufacturer is 3M, the world’s largest producer of respirator masks. One day after President Trump invoked the DPA 3M said it is ready and willing to comply with the order to supply more N95 masks for the US. They added, however, that they will not stop exporting masks to other countries that also desperately need them.
3M released the following statement:

“3M and its employees have gone above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the US market.”

The DPA also requires that companies supply the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with the equipment ordered by the agency. 3M said it is working closely with FEMA to supply the requested masks while at the same time enlarging the number of masks it is importing into the US from its offshore factories, including from China.

The company said that it must continue to supply masks to Canada and Latin America, despite the administration’s additional request to halt the sale of US-made respirators to countries other than the USA.

A statement from 3M explained that:

“There are significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators,” the statement said. Ceasing delivery of masks to these countries would “likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same.”

The company warned that retaliation on the part of other countries would most certainly lead to the total number of respirators available for use in the US to decrease.

“That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek,” 3M said.

John McCain Returning to Washington for Vote on Healthcare Bill

Despite his recent diagnosis with brain cancer and surgery to remove a related blood clot, 80-year-old Senator John McCain announced he will be returning to Washington DC from his home in Arizona to take part in a crucial vote on healthcare reform.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on a Republican sponsored healthcare bill which, if passed, could drastically undo much of Obamacare’s legislation. The fact that McCain is making a heroic effort to return to the Senate floor in time for this vote seems to indicate that his vote could make the difference in the bill’s passage.

Over the past few weeks the Republican bill has come within a hair’s breadth of its own demise several times as the GOP struggled to make good on its 7-year promise to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislation.

At the moment, a Senate vote is predicted to be uncomfortably close; with 52 votes for the Republican bill, and 48 against, making McCain’s vote a key vote for success.

“For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise. Over and over again, they said, ‘Repeal and replace, repeal and replace.’ But they can now keep their promise,” President Trump said.

The GOP legislation would eliminate tax penalties on people who do not buy health insurance policies; cut the Medicaid program which helps the poor; and would reduce the amount of government subsidies available for consumers who wish to purchase insurance but can’t afford it.

Cigna Rebuffs Anthem Bid for Takeover

The trend to merge health insurance companies into fewer unique entities continues apace as Anthem Inc. made a bid to buy rival health care insurer Cigna Corporation.

The latest bid for Cigna came after months of negotiations between the parties and a previous offer ten days ago. The latest takeover bid came when Anthem offered to buy Cigna for about $175 per share. Cigna is still saying no to the offers.

Health care giant Humana Inc. has also entered the fray, discussing a possible takeover of Cigna as well as Aetna Inc.

On Monday morning Anthem’s market value was estimated at $43 billion, and Cigna’s was approximately $35 billion.

Cigna stock soared in the wake of the Wall Street Journal story about the takeover bid, climbing 12 percent in active midday trading, reaching $153.74 per share. Anthem shares also grew, adding 2 percent to close at $164.22.

Obamacare Achieving its Goal of Insuring More Americans

According to data supplied by the Gallup Well Being Index, the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, has made significant changes to the numbers of people now with basic health insurance benefits.

In 2006 the number of American without any type of health insurance reached an all-time high of close to 44 million people. That accounted for about 17% of Americans. The trend continued through 2010, with many states having even lower percentages of their populations covered.

Today, with the implementation of Obamacare there are more Americans with some kind of health insurance than ever before. Since ACA was launched 10 million more people joined the ranks of the health-insured and no longer have to fear paying full price for medical care.


Obama Health Plan Delaying SHOP for Small Business

A key piece of the federal health law for small businesses will not go into effect as planned, according to officials of the Obama administration. The government stated that they will need more time to implement the “Small Business Health Options Program,” otherwise known as SHOP, which will hopefully give small businesses choices of health care plans.

The program was supposed to get underway in 2014, but the Department of Health and Human Services have offered that the during the first year businesses that utilize one of the 33 state exchanges which will be run fully or partly by the federal government will only be able to offer their employees one plan. Choices of a variety of health plan options will not be available until an unspecified time in the future.

Administration representatives said that the remaining 17 states administering their own exchanges may also choose to delay the implementation of SHOP if they need to.

“For transitional purposes we have proposed that in 2014, a state may elect to have businesses choose one plan to offer employees, and in 2015 employees will be able to choose from the full range of plans in the marketplace,” said Fabien Levy, an HHS official.