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A summary of important health news from the past week.

Free COVID tests and treatments no longer free for uninsured, as funding runs out

By: Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR

As federal funding for COVID-19 testing and treatments runs low, many uninsured Americans will find it difficult to receive affordable testing and care, which experts say will exacerbate the disproportionate toll that the pandemic has had upon marginalized populations. Up until recently, hospitals and clinics across the country were able to offer free testing and antibody therapy to all, regardless of insurance status, through a government-funded reimbursement program. With the funding almost gone, however, many facilities must return to administering tests to those with the means to pay. Access to free COVID-19 vaccinations may be the next to go. Aware of the dire consequences for the uninsured and public health at large, members of the Biden administration are appealing to policymakers for $22.5 billion in additional funds in hopes of keeping free testing, vaccinations, and treatment available for a little while longer.

House Passes Bill to Limit Cost of Insulin to $35 a Month

By: Margot Sanger-Katz, New York Times

The price of insulin in the United States has been growing in recent years, with many people who have diabetes rationing their insulin or not being able to afford it all. This past Thursday, a bill to limit the price of insulin to $35 per month passed the House. While this is hopeful news, the bill still has to pass the Senate. Given that the bill does not have an outpouring of support from Republican senators, it may be difficult to get the bill passed into legislation. However, the bill would benefit almost 30 million Americans who have to pay for insulin each month. Lowering the price to $35 does not mean that insulin itself costs less — it means that insurance companies will be paying more of the cost. Since diabetes affects so many Americans, insulin cost is a pressing issue that will continue to be discussed in the House and the Senate.

Prime pollen season has metro Atlanta residents battling runny noses, watery eyes

By: WBS-TV News Staff, WSB-TV

Pollen counts in Georgia have skyrocketed this past week. Current counts for the first few days of April have averaged around 2000, which is a stark contrast from the counts in March being as low as 5. The cooler weather and rain have helped keep the counts lower up until now. Now that it’s getting warmer again, there is a field of yellow dust covering the cars and buildings. People have already started noticing these changes with new symptoms like runny noses and watery eyes. Experts recommend keeping windows closed and AC on to help keep some of the pollen out of people’s homes.

Marijuana for medical use may result in rapid onset of cannabis use disorder

A new study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital concluded that using cannabis products to treat anxiety, depression, and pain failed to improve symptoms and instead perpetuated the risk of developing addictive symptoms of cannabis use disorder. Specifically, individuals who used cannabis to treat anxiety and depression were at greatest risk of developing cannabis use disorder. The study compared a group that was immediately able to obtain a medical marijuana card to a control group that was asked to wait 12 weeks before they could obtain a medical marijuana card. After 12 weeks, the results revealed that the group that was immediately able to obtain their medical marijuana card were twice as likely to develop cannabis use disorder than the control group. Further research may include developing better decision-making tools for deciding whether to use cannabis products to treat medical disorders.

Items contributed by: Zainab Molumo, Lexi Rosmarin, Jessica Maaskant, Sarah Du