Legislation

Overnight Health Care: Community health centers await funding that expired months ago | Delaying ObamaCare taxes to cost $31B | NYC sues opioid producers

Congress on Monday extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years, but more than 1,000 community health centers around the country are still waiting for the government to take action on their own funding. 

Both programs expired at the end of September, but only CHIP was funded in the short-term spending bill signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: If there’s no wall, there’s no DACA fix Trump appears to call out Samsung over missing FBI text messages Trump Commerce pick told lawmakers he would look at reversing Obama move on internet oversight: report MORE

Health centers — and those who advocate for them — are becoming anxious and frustrated. 

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“Health center advocates and other supporters are continuing to emphasize with congressional leaders the critical need for health center funding to be renewed ASAP to avoid severe consequences to health center operations and their ability to serve patients, especially during a major flu epidemic and opioid crisis,” said Amy Simmons, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Community health centers cover about 27 million low-income people in 9,800 rural and urban communities across the U.S.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Health Care: Community health centers await funding that expired months ago | Delaying ObamaCare taxes to cost B | NYC sues opioid producers Community health centers await funding that expired months ago House GOP backs three-week funding bill MORE (R-Ore.) said funding for community health centers is being discussed in a long-term spending deal. The current bill ends Feb. 8.

The House passed a bill funding community health centers for two years late last year, but Democrats opposed it because of the offsets, and it went nowhere in the Senate.

Read more here.

Top Medicaid official to leave post next month 

Brian Neale, a top Medicaid official in the Trump administration, is leaving his post next month, officials announced Tuesday.

Neale is the deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) overseeing Medicaid.

His departure comes amid a major conservative change in Medicaid, allowing states to impose work requirements on enrollees, a move the administration announced earlier this month.

Neale helped shepherd those changes.

Read more here.

Congressional scorekeeper: Delay of ObamaCare taxes in spending bill will cost about $31B

The delay of three of ObamaCare’s taxes will reduce federal revenue by $31.3 billion over 10 years, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) said Tuesday.

The taxes were delayed as part of the stopgap spending bill that Congress passed Monday in order to end the three-day government shutdown.

The medical device tax was delayed for two years, until 2020, while the “Cadillac” tax on high-cost health plans, which had been set to take effect in 2020, was delayed until 2022. The health insurance tax was suspended for 2019.

Read more here

Study: Americans using less health care, but paying more for it 

Health-care spending has increased because prices are rising, not because Americans are using more health care, according to a new study released Tuesday. 

The report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) showed that total health-care spending grew by 4.6 percent per person from 2015 to 2016 even as utilization of services remained steady, or declined in some cases.

As a result, health-care spending per person reached a new high of $5,407 in 2016.

“It is time to have a national conversation on the role of price increases in the growth of health care spending,” said Niall Brennan, president of the HCCI.

Read more here.

NYC sues eight opioid producers, distributors

New York City on Tuesday sued multiple drug companies, alleging they played an instrumental role in creating the deadly opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit — filed against eight companies that make or distribute prescription opioids — seeks $500 million in damages to help the city combat the opioid epidemic. 

“Big Pharma helped to fuel this epidemic by deceptively peddling these dangerous drugs and hooking millions of Americans in exchange for profit,” Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said in a news release. “It’s time for hold the companies accountable for what they’ve done to our City, and help save more lives.”

In 2016, more than 1,000 people in New York City died of a drug overdose involving opioids, the highest yearly rate to date, according to the release.

The lawsuit alleges that manufacturers misrepresented the safety of using painkillers long term and that distributors supplied too many opioids, which enabled the pills to be sold illegally. In turn, this allegedly has created a “substantial burden” on the city, the lawsuit states, because it has had to increase treatment services, law enforcement costs, medical examiner costs and more, according to the release.

Read more here.

NY to guarantee Medicaid for DACA recipients

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Tuesday that “Dreamers” will remain eligible for state-funded Medicaid regardless of whether the program expires.

There are currently 42,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, known as “Dreamers,” living in New York. The program is set to expire in March after President Trump moved to kill it last year.

“The federal government’s failure to take action to protect DACA recipients is appalling, un-American, unjust and puts hundreds of thousands of children at risk,” Cuomo said in a release. “Here in New York we will do everything in our power to protect DACA recipients and ensure they receive health care.”

According to the release, the state will fund all costs associated with providing Medicaid to DACA recipients. States are not permitted to use federal funds to aid immigrants in the country illegally.

Read more here.

What we’re reading 

CDC director urges flu vaccinations as pediatric deaths mount (Reuters)

US lets more health care workers prescribe opioid addiction treatment (Reuters)

E-cigarettes: Both good and bad, expert panel says (HealthDay)

State by state

University in Illinois under fire for off-the-grid herpes vaccine experiments (Kaiser Health News)

Audit stings Illinois’ Medicaid program (Crain’s Chicago Business)

Op-eds in The Hill 

The HHS’s assault on patient health is unethical 


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