8.30.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, Aug. 30, and we're covering Hurricane Idalia's arrival, the first drugs selected for a government pricing program, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Breaking:  Idalia strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane overnight and is soon expected to make landfall on Florida's northern Gulf Coast, as of this writing. Follow along here.

Medicare Drug Pricing

The Biden administration yesterday announced 10 drugs subject to Medicare price negotiations in an effort to lower government spending on prescription medications. The initiative is part of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, which allows Medicare to negotiate prices for 60 drugs under Medicare Parts B and D.

 

The drugs, responsible for $3.4B in out-of-pocket expenses for seniors in the past year, were chosen due to their high Medicare spending and lack of market alternatives. They include Eliquis and Xarelto (blood thinners); Jardiance, Januvia, and Fiasp/NovoLog (diabetes); Farxiga (diabetes and chronic kidney disease); Entresto (heart failure); Enbrel (rheumatoid arthritis); Imbruvica (blood cancer); and Stelara (inflammation). Together, they accounted for 20% (or $50.5B) of Part D spending between June 1, 2022, and May 31.

 

Several drug manufacturers have filed lawsuits challenging the law; the makers of the drugs have 30 days to agree to participate or face potential tax penalties. Negotiations over the 10 drugs will occur over approximately a year, with finalized prices expected to be announced in the fall of 2024 and go into effect in 2026.

 

Job Vacancies Drop

US job openings fell in July to the lowest level in more than two years, according to government data released yesterday. Job openings dropped to 8.8 million last month, below both economist forecasts of 9.5 million and the downwardly revised 9.2 million in June. The latest figure is the lowest level since March 2021 but remains above prepandemic levels. 

 

The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, which is separate from the nonfarm payroll report and lags it by one month, saw hires decline to 5.8 million while layoffs held steady at 1.6 million. The quits rate—the percentage of resignations relative to total employment—fell to 2.3%, the lowest since January 2021 and matching the average for prepandemic levels in 2019. See all data here.

 

Analysts say the data show Americans are less confident in being able to find another job in the current market as demand for workers cools. Analysts are now looking toward the nonfarm payroll report for August, which will be released Friday. They estimate 170,000 jobs added and a 3.5% unemployment rate.

 

Meta Disrupts 'Spamouflage'

Thousands of fake Meta social media accounts with ties to an alleged Chinese disinformation network were removed in recent months, according to Meta's quarterly security report released yesterday. Officials believe the network is the largest to infiltrate its stable of social media sites—which includes Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—in the company's history of mitigating such threats.

 

The company was first made aware of this specific network late last year, which it claims is part of a broader influence apparatus experts dubbed "Spamouflage" in 2019. Meta believes the network's operators, which it claims are dispersed throughout China, are directed and supported centrally. The network frequently pushes spam-like content appearing to criticize the US while supporting China; according to a 2021 report, some of its content was amplified by authentic users with substantial followings.

 

Meta observed the network across roughly 50 platforms, including YouTube, X (Twitter), TikTok, Pinterest, and Reddit. Learn more about influence operations here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Taylor Swift becomes first female artist to top 100 million Spotify monthly listeners; The Weeknd leads all artists with 110 million (More)

> Former "Bachelorette" contestant Josh Seiter is alive, despite prior reports of his death Monday (More) | The 80th Venice Film Festival opens today; see list of featured films (More)

> NFL teams finalize their 53-man rosters; see list of latest roster cuts (More) | Megan Rapinoe sets final appearance with US women's national team for Sept. 24 against South Africa (More)

From our partners: This credit card is a reward-seeker's dream. Offering 2% cash rewards on purchases and a $200 welcome bonus. The Ascent's independent team of experts is calling it one of the best all-around cards. Learn more.

 

Science & Technology

> Google's DeepMind unveils platform to permanently watermark AI-generated images; mark would be invisible to the human eye but detected by the technology (More)

> Research team recovers pieces of a meteor that landed in the Pacific Ocean in 2014 from the ocean floor; preliminary analysis suggests the fragments are metallic and from interstellar space (More)

> Scientists pinpoint immune system cells responsible for the reaction seen in celiac disease, where dietary gluten causes severe digestive inflammation (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +1.5%, Dow +0.9%, Nasdaq +1.7%) led by tech stocks (More)

> Federal appeals court rules the Securities and Exchange Commission must review cryptocurrency manager Grayscale’s bitcoin exchange-traded fund application; bitcoin up 7%, Coinbase shares up 15% (More)

> Chipmaker Nvidia closes up 4% to all-time high valuation of approximately $1.2T after announcing AI partnership with Google (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> The US announces $250M in additional military aid to Ukraine, brings total to more than $43B since Russia's invasion (More) | Reports suggest Ukraine has advanced near Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast; see more updates (More

> House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R, LA-1) reveals blood cancer diagnosis, says he will undergo treatment and continue working; Scalise survived a 2017 mass shooting during practice for the Congressional baseball game (More)

> X (Twitter) to allow campaign advertising from candidates and political parties on its platform for the first time since 2019 ahead of next year's elections (More) |

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez becomes first candidate to drop out of GOP presidential primary (More)

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Live Well and Prosper

 

Fictional Star Trek salute, or actual possibility? Wild Health takes a proactive approach to health care to help you to live well for longer.

 

Your Wild Health journey starts with a comprehensive analysis of your genetics, bloodwork, and lifestyle data to customize a care plan that optimizes your health across several key focus areas—so you can feel your best, both now and in the long run. Paired with a board-certified physician and accredited health coach, you’re able to achieve every and all of your health goals. Learn more and get started today.

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Etcetera
 

When to catch tonight's rare blue supermoon

 

Neurosurgeon plucks worm from woman's brain

 

How the National Hurricane Center predicts a hurricane's path.

 

The most in-demand ZIP codes for US homebuyers.

 

Ranking the best soundtrack albums

 

Duct tape dress makes it into a university's fashion archive.

 

The hand-painted video game that took seven years to create.

 

Ten pups compete for the title of cutest rescue dog.

 

Clickbait: A close encounter of the athletic kind

 

Historybook: Baseball great Ted Williams born (1918); Warren Buffett born (1930); Thurgood Marshall becomes first Black Supreme Court justice (1967); Cameron Diaz born (1972); Guion Bluford becomes first Black person in space (1983).

"Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful."

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