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#COVIDtesting #EndOfLife #telemedicine #immunotherapy #vitaminD #melanoma

#Doctor, could you comment on these topics to the #media today?

>> Free tests come to an end

>> End-of-life challenges as rule reverts

>> Vitamin levels could impact cancer treatment

The Med & Mic™ 04.24.23

MED NEWS blog post from Dr. Maria ON Speaking, LLC

No More Free COVID Tests

In Massachusetts, health insurers will stop providing free over-the-counter COVID tests when the pandemic public health emergency ends on May 11. As part of the emergency, insurers were required to cover the cost of eight over-the-counter rapid antigen tests per month. A pack of two tests typically costs $24. Starting May 12, insurers will cover the tests only if ordered by clinicians. It is possible that people could unknowingly spread COVID to others or delay treatment if they forgo testing because of cost. (Source: WBUR, P. Dayal McClusky, 4.21.23)

Loss of Telemedicine Affects the Dying

As the government rolls back telemedicine prescriptions of potentially addictive medication, people who are dying may have more difficulty acquiring their medicine. The practice was allowed during the pandemic. Now patients must see a doctor in person to receive refills on narcotics, amphetamines, and certain other drugs. Complaints have poured in to the Drug Enforcement Agency from advocates for patients in hospice care and those who seek medically assisted suicide. Patients with a terminal illness fear they will be too ill to travel to an in-person doctor visit. After the rule is finalized in May, it would take effect in November. (Source: AP, J. Aleccia, 4.23.23)

Immunotherapy Goes Better with Vitamin D

For patients with advanced skin cancer, normal vitamin D levels may be important for those being treated with immunotherapy. Researchers analyzed the blood of 200 people before treatment for melanoma with checkpoint inhibitors and every 12 weeks during treatment. A favorable response to treatment was noted in 56% of the patients who had normal vitamin D levels at baseline, compared to 36% of those with low levels. Progression-free survival was 11 months and 6 months respectively. The findings are published in the journal CANCER. (Source: SciTechDaily, Wiley, 4.24.23)

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