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DAILY DOSE: 2022 was a miserable year for global weather; Supreme Court decision on affirmative action could destroy diversity in healthcare.

2022 was a pretty miserable year in terms of catastrophic weather events. To be fair, 2023 hasn’t been much of an improvement. The United Nations has officially chimed in to confirm last year was probably about as bad as memory tell us it was. Per the Associated Press,

Looking back at 2022′s weather with months of analysis, the World Meteorological Organization said last year really was as bad as it seemed when people were muddling through it.

And about as bad as it gets — until more warming kicks in.

Killer floods, droughts and heat waves hit around the world, costing many billions of dollars. Global ocean heat and acidity levels hit record highs and Antarctic sea ice and European Alps glaciers reached record low amounts, according to the United Nations’ climate agency’s State of Global Climate 2022 report released Friday.

If we’re honest, this has been an increasingly familiar narrative. Unfortunately, not enough people are still not paying attention. https://bit.ly/3H3qRXm

Thanks to everything from phones to scooters being powered by mobile sources of energy, lithium has become one of the most in demand – if not the most – metals around the world. Entire industries rely on it for battery power. That’s why key mining countries are making moves to ensure their grip on the industry. Per Reuters,

Chile's President Gabriel Boric said on Thursday he would nationalize the country's lithium industry, the world's second largest producer of the metal essential in electric vehicle batteries, to boost its economy and protect its environment.

The shock move in the country with the world's largest lithium reserves would in time transfer control of Chile's vast lithium operations from industry giants SQM (SQMA.SN) and Albemarle (ALB.N) to a separate state-owned company.

It poses a fresh challenge to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers scrambling to secure battery materials, as more countries look to protect their natural resources. Mexico nationalized its lithium deposits last year, and Indonesia banned exports of nickel ore, a key battery material, in 2020.

"This is the best chance we have at transitioning to a sustainable and developed economy. We can't afford to waste it," Boric said in an address televised nationwide.

Can’t blame them, really. https://bit.ly/41LC5aL

Slowly but surely, there appears to be movement in the United States government regarding capping the cost of insulin. Per Stat News,

Amid a scramble to assemble a health care policy package in the Senate, a pair of key senators have significantly changed a proposal to cap insulin costs.

The new legislation by Senate Diabetes Caucus co-chairs Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) would cap insured patients’ insulin costs at $35 per month for at least one insulin of each type and dosage form, and require pharmacy benefit managers to pass through rebates they collect from insulin manufacturers to the insurance plans that employ them.

The legislation also includes several provisions related to biosimilar policy. The bill would create a new, expedited pathway for the Food and Drug Administration to consider biosimilars that would be alternatives to biologics without adequate competition and would allow Medicare drug plans to put biosimilars on their formularies as soon as they come on the market.

Previous version of the bill was structured differently around offering incentives to get drug manufacturers to voluntarily lower the prices of insulin. https://bit.ly/3ovGQam

Study after study affirms the importance of having diversity among healthcare providers. Patients benefit greatly when their doctors and nurses are more reflective of their needs. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of the United States appears poised to go against the grain and countless scientific studies when it rules on two affirmative action lawsuits. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has provided its take on the situation and the potential harm waiting down the line. According to the opinion piece,

During the Supreme Court oral arguments about affirmative action in October 2022, Justice Elena Kagan asked, “[I]f you’re a hospital and you serve a diverse group of patients, is it super important to you to have a diverse set of doctors?” Justice Kagan’s question raises whether the Supreme Court, poised to end affirmative action, may diminish the diversity of health providers in the United States. Two affirmative action lawsuits facing the court—against the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Harvard University—will likely have severe ramifications for medical training and health equity. Given the likelihood that the Supreme Court will end affirmative action, medical institutions must plan how to further diversity without incurring liability. More broadly, the cases follow a pattern of judicial intrusion into the affairs of medicine and health. As with abortion, contraception, health insurance, and COVID-19, the Supreme Court has encroached on the field of medicine, denying expert guidance on what is required in order to achieve a healthy and equitable society. The affirmative action cases are emblematic of a high court intent on opposing racial progress and other forms of social change.

Those are some strong words. https://bit.ly/3LkPO39

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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