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New conservative target: Race as factor in COVID treatment

Some conservatives are taking aim at policies that allow doctors to consider race as a risk factor when allocating scarce COVID-19 treatments, saying the protocols discriminate against white people.

The wave of infections brought on by the omicron variant and a shortage of treatments have focused attention on the policies.

Medical experts say the opposition is misleading. Health officials have long said there is a strong case for considering race as one of many risk factors in treatment decisions. And there is no evidence that race alone is being used to decide who gets medicine.

The issue came to the forefront last week after Fox News host Tucker Carlson, former President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio jumped on the policies. In recent days, conservative law firms have pressured a Missouri-based health care system, Minnesota and Utah to drop their protocols and sued New York state over allocation guidelines

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CVS Caremark agrees to settlement over transaction fees

The Oklahoma Insurance Department has entered into a settlement agreement with CVS Caremark over transaction fees the pharmacy benefit manager charges pharmacists to process Medicare Part D and group health plan claims, the agency announced Thursday.

The CVS Health subsidiary will pay $4.8 million to settle the alleged violations of the state’s Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act. CVS Caremark will pay $2.3 million in restitution to drugstores and $2.5 million in penalties to the state.

“CVS Caremark was cooperative during our investigation, we were able to work together through negotiations to ensure there is a level playing field that is abiding by the rules of [Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act] and other PBM statutes,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready (R) said in a news release. “With the rising cost of healthcare throughout the pandemic, it is more important than ever to ensure companies fully comply with our laws

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How to choose a quality bong?

There are bongs around with just about any shape, size or color you can imagine. Unfortunately, most bongs on the market today do not live up to their expectations of smoothness and potency. The bong industry is flooded with bongs made of cheap glass with wild claims of functionality attached to them. Many users avoid bongs simply because they have had bad experiences, however most bongs on the market today underperform due to lack of knowledge in bong designs or production methods.

How does one go about buying a quality bong that will serve its purpose without failing? Bong designers constantly strive to improve bong performance while maintaining durability and ease of use. Here are some common sense guidelines to follow when choosing your next cheap bongs.

Form follows bong function

If you are looking for bongs that provide smoothness, bongs with lots of percolators or bongs made out …

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Booster shots needed against omicron, CDC studies show

Three studies released Friday offered more evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are standing up to the omicron variant, at least among people who received booster shots.

They are the first large U.S. studies to look at vaccine protection against omicron, health officials said.

The papers echo previous research — including studies in Germany, South Africa and the U.K. — indicating available vaccines are less effective against omicron than earlier versions of the coronavirus, but also that boosters significantly improve protection.

The first study looked at hospitalizations and emergency room and urgent care center visits in 10 states, from August to this month.

It found vaccine effectiveness was best after three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in preventing COVID-19-associated emergency department and urgent care visits. Protection dropped from 94% during the delta wave to 82% during the omicron wave. Protection from just two doses was lower, especially if six months

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Families complain about COVID testing for nursing home visits

As COVID-19 cases rise again in nursing homes, a few states have begun requiring visitors to present proof that they’re not infected before entering facilities, stoking frustration and dismay among family members.

Officials in California, New York, and Rhode Island say new COVID testing requirements are necessary to protect residents — an enormously vulnerable population — from exposure to the highly contagious omicron variant. But many family members say they can’t secure tests amid enormous demand and scarce supplies, leaving them unable to see loved ones. And being shut out of facilities feels unbearable, like a nightmare recurring without end.

Severe staff shortages are complicating the effort to ensure safety while keeping facilities open; these shortages also jeopardize care at long-term care facilities — a concern of many family members.

Andrea DuBrow’s 75-year-old mother, who has severe Alzheimer’s disease, has lived for almost four years in a nursing home in

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Biden to give away 400 million N95 masks starting next week

The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week, now that federal officials are emphasizing their better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings.

The White House announced Wednesday that the masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They will begin shipping this week for distribution starting late next week, the White House said.

This will be the largest distribution of free masks by the federal government to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In early 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration considered and then shelved plans to send masks to all American at their homes. President Joe Biden embraced the initiative after facing mounting criticism

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