A Message from Our President, Medical Mistrust, Insulin Prices: RAND Weekly Recap

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January 8, 2021

This week we discuss a message from our president and CEO on the U.S. Capitol siege; psychological distress during the pandemic; how to address medical mistrust about COVID-19 vaccinations; family caregivers as frontline workers; the astronomical price of insulin in the United States; and Unemployment Insurance's continued failure to reform.

Statement by Michael D. Rich on the U.S. Capitol Siege

We have seen a great deal of civil unrest in America over the past many months, much of it peaceful. But the deadly siege that took place at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday was different—both in motivation and response. The audacity of the rioters and the violence they perpetrated should have no place in the political process, although tragically, and all too often, violence finds its home in the United States.

This week's shameful events stem from complex issues, including the accelerating violation of norms, racism, and growing distrust in institutions and the other trends that make up Truth Decay, the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. These roots run deep. Countering them will require hard work, moral courage, and persistence. And repairing these fractures in our civic infrastructure will benefit from increased government transparency, more expertise in the executive branch, more inclusive public institutions, and greater investment in both civic education and civic accountability—ideas political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh and I advanced recently as advice to the incoming Biden-Harris administration. I recognize these are just some of many areas that need attention.

I believe RAND's mission is essential to countering the forces we saw Wednesday, revitalizing the health of our democracy, and bolstering our collective well-being and sense of safety in the world—even as the path from research and analysis to sound policy can at times be winding. We are resolute in our efforts to develop solutions to society's most complex challenges by starting with facts and rigorous analysis.

This year did not start off in the way many of us had hoped. But I still believe 2021 will present growing opportunities to demonstrate how the application of facts and analysis can help restore trust in our democratic systems and solve even the most contentious problems.

— Michael D. Rich, President and CEO

Woman wearing a face mask looks out a window in the rain, photo by FerreiraSilva/Getty Images

Photo by FerreiraSilva/Getty Images

Tracking Americans' Psychological Distress During the Pandemic

The pandemic is creating a large spike in significant psychological distress among Americans, a new RAND study finds. The results show that more than 10 percent of Americans reported symptoms of significant psychological distress during April and May of 2020. This is the same amount that reported experiencing such distress over an entire year in a previous, pre-pandemic survey.

Laura Bogart, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

RAND's Laura Bogart is a behavioral scientist who studies medical mistrust, especially in the Black community

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Medical Mistrust and COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake: Q&A with Laura Bogart

RAND behavioral scientist Laura Bogart studies medical mistrust, especially among Black Americans, a group that has endured centuries of oppression and unethical medical experimentation. In a new Q&A, she discusses how mistrust could be a barrier to COVID-19 vaccine uptake. “The important thing to recognize is that it's rational,” she says. “It's understandable that people who have been discriminated against would put their guard up. And any intervention really needs to acknowledge that as a first step.”

A sick man lying on a couch while his wife reads a thermometer, photo by eggeeggjiew/Getty Images

Photo by eggeeggjiew/Getty Images

Family Caregivers Are Frontline Workers

About 53 million family members in the United States provide care for their loved ones. These caregivers might be supporting a parent, a disabled child, or a spouse by helping them eat, bathe, and take medications. In a new paper, RAND researchers explain how these caregivers have become frontline workers amid the pandemic—and highlight ways that caregivers could be better integrated into formal health care teams.

A woman from Minnesota holds up her U.S. bottle of NovoLog insulin and a Canadian box of NovoRapid, which she bought at a pharmacy in Ontario, Canada, June 29, 2019, photo by Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press via AP

A woman holds a U.S. bottle of NovoLog insulin and a Canadian box of NovoRapid, Ontario, Canada, June 29, 2019

Photo by Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press via AP

The Astronomical Price of Insulin

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and nearly a quarter of them need insulin to manage their condition. With so many people using this life-saving drug—and its cost skyrocketing in recent years—the Department of Health and Human Services asked RAND to examine insulin prices more closely. Our researchers compared the costs of insulin in the United States to those in 33 other countries. They found that the average price for a unit of insulin in America, nearly $99, was more than ten times higher than the average for all of the other countries combined.

New members of Congress are sworn in during the first session of the 117th Congress at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, January 3, 2021, photo by Tasos Katopodis/Reuters

New members of Congress are sworn in at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 3, 2021

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Reuters

Unemployment Insurance Reform Is Five Decades Overdue

Unemployment Insurance is the primary U.S. policy tool for sustaining workers during periods of high unemployment. But the system has long been neglected, says RAND's Kathryn Edwards. In every recession since 1973, Congress has had to prop up states' financing of the program—typically by extending the availability of benefits. When COVID-19 hit, Congress had to do that and much more. The current crisis shows just how far out of step the program is with today's economy, says Edwards.

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