2 of Boston's top hospitals are rolling out clinics that claim to predict potential diseases with elective (non-essential) genomic sequencing, Stat News' Rebecca Robbins reports.

Why it matters: Healthy people can pay up to thousands in cash, out of pocket, to visit similar genomics clinics at academic centers or hospitals. There is currently no strong evidence to show that healthy patients are benefitting from these clinics, most of which didn't exist more than 5 years ago.

  • The National Human Genome Research Institute is funding research on sequencing outcomes from the Boston Brigham and Women's Preventive Genomics Clinic, according to Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist directing Brigham's research.
  • Results from Brigham's genomic sequencing enter the patient's medical record just like any other clinical data, according to Green.

What they're saying: “The idea that genomic sequencing is only going to be accessible by wealthy, well-educated patrons who can pay out of pocket is anathema to the goals of the publicly funded Human Genome Project, and creates new disparities in our health care system,” Dr. Jonathan Berg, a genetics professor at the University of North Carolina, tells Stat News.

The big picture: The University of California in San Francisco, the Mayo Clinic and the nonprofit HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Alabama also offer elective genomic sequencing programs, per Stat News.

By the numbers: Patients at Brigham and Women's Preventive Genomics Clinic pay out of pocket for sequencing that ranges from $250 to $2,950. Patients at HudsonAlpha pay up to $7,000 for "whole genome sequencing and interpretation," Stat News reports.

Driving the news: Gene therapies expected to come with big price tags

Go deeper

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

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