In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
A Berkeley doctor begins an unusual practice as a law takes effect this week permitting doctors to prescribe lethal medications to terminally ill patients who request them. (Lisa Aliferis, 6/8)
The Food and Drug Administration has introduced a simplified form that doctors will use to seek FDA approval to treat seriously ill patients with experimental drugs after other options run out. (Rachel Bluth, 6/8)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'To The Limit'" by Dave Coverly, Speed Bump.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
THE DEFEAT OF REP. RENEE ELLMERS
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Summaries Of The News:
The measure will affect everyday products ranging from laundry detergent to car seats and furniture.
The Associated Press: Congress Sends Obama Bill To Regulate Toxic Chemicals
Congress on Tuesday sent President Barack Obama a sweeping bill that would for the first time regulate tens of thousands of toxic chemicals in everyday products, from household cleaners to clothing and furniture. In a rare display of bipartisanship in an election year, the Senate backed the measure on a voice vote after Republicans and Democrats spoke enthusiastically about the legislation. Backers of the bill said it would clear up a hodgepodge of state rules and update and improve a toxic-chemicals law that has remained unchanged for 40 years. (6/7)
The Washington Post: Sweeping Overhaul Of Nation’s Chemical-Safety Laws Clears Final Legislative Hurdle
In reauthorizing the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act on a voice vote, lawmakers are providing chemical manufacturers with greater certainty while giving the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to obtain more information about a chemical before approving its use. And because the laws involved regulate thousands of chemicals used in products including furniture, sippy cups and detergents, the measure will affect Americans’ everyday lives in ways large and small. (Eilperin, 6/7)
The New York Times: Senate Approves Update Of Toxic-Chemical Regulations
Public health advocates and environmentalists complained for decades that the 1976 law was outdated and riddled with gaps that left Americans exposed to harmful chemicals. Under current law, around 64,000 chemicals are not subject to environmental testing or regulation. But efforts to tighten the law had stalled for years. The authors of the bill say their breakthrough represents a pragmatic, politically viable compromise between better environmental standards and the demands of industry. Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, worked closely with the American Chemistry Council to come up with language that would win the support of the industry and pass through the generally regulation-averse Republican Congress. (Davenport, 6/7)
The Wall Street Journal: Senate Approves Bill To Overhaul Chemicals Oversight
“The fact that Congress in a bipartisan and bicameral way has arrived at a solution that will provide the industry greater certainty and consumers greater public health protections is an enormous step forward,” Brian Deese, senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said in a recent interview. (Berzon and Harder, 6/7)
The 93 percent increase is still shy of the $600 million Democrats proposed earlier this year.
Stat: Senate Panel Approves Funding Bill With Big Boost To Fight Opioid Epidemic
A key Senate panel approved a health funding bill Tuesday that would nearly double the federal support for fighting the nation’s opioid epidemic. The 2017 funding bill unveiled by Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Patty Murray of Washington, who head the subcommittee that oversees health spending, would increase spending for addressing opioid abuse to $261 million. That’s up $126 million from last year, a 93 percent increase. (Scott, 6/7)
Morning Consult: Senate Panel Approves 93 Percent Increase In Opioid Funding
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee approved $261 million in funding for the opioid crisis on Tuesday, a 93 percent increase over last year. The funding is part of $76.9 billion the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education favorably reported for the Department of Health and Human Services for the upcoming fiscal year. A full committee markup is scheduled for Thursday. The funding proposed for opioids, which subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) noted was a 542 percent increase over 2015 levels, is still shy of the $600 million Democrats had proposed earlier this year during debate over the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Republicans blocked that funding when CARA, a bill targeting the opioid crisis, was on the floor. (McIntire, 6/7)
Morning Consult: Opioid Bill Could Include Other Health Measures, Aides Say
Members of Congress are kicking around several scenarios that would combine two or three health care bills into one large package, using the opioid legislation slated to be in House and Senate conference in the near future as a vehicle. The other pieces of legislation being discussed are a mental health bill and a medical innovation bill, according to a senior GOP aide. The aide cautioned that “this is a very fluid situation and there are a lot of potential scenarios. I don’t think anyone knows yet.” The various combination ideas are “trial balloons.” (Owens, 6/7)
The researchers found that in states that expanded Medicaid, counties that had a particularly high uninsured rate before the federal health law had their per capita collection balance fall, while states that did not expand the program for low income residents had the collection balance continue to grow. Also in health law news, Republicans controlling the Senate are not again trying to defund the health law, and a look at benchmark plans in the online marketplaces finds they lack mandated mental health coverage.
Bloomberg: U.S. States That Embraced Healthcare Reform Are Seeing Less Debt Sent to Collection Agencies
Early evidence suggests that the Affordable Care Act is working — at least in one important respect, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Analysts Nicole Dussault, Maxim Pinkovskiy, and Basit Zafar state that the primary purpose of this law "is not to protect our health per se, but to protect our finances." And they've found a big difference between indebtedness trends in states that embraced the Medicaid expansion versus the ones that did not. (Kawa, 6/7)
The Associated Press: Senate GOP Drops Push To 'Defund Obamacare'
Republicans controlling the Senate are abandoning an effort to use their power over the federal purse strings to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The more pragmatic approach came Tuesday on a huge $164 billion spending measure and reflects a hope by top Republicans like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to remove veto bait from must-pass spending bills in hopes of advancing them more easily with Democratic support. (Taylor, 6/7)
Modern Healthcare: Nearly All ACA Benchmark Plans Violate Rules On Addiction Treatment Coverage
More than two-thirds of state benchmark plans violate federal requirements to cover treatment for addiction disorders.The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse surveyed addiction treatment benefits offered among 2017 Essential Health Benefits benchmark plans and found none offered a comprehensive array of addiction treatment benefits. (Johnson, 6/7)
“Actions have consequences,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
Politico: Renee Ellmers Is First GOP Incumbent Knocked Off In Primary
Rep. George Holding won the Republican primary for a newly redrawn district in North Carolina, beating Rep. Renee Ellmers, who became the first GOP incumbent to lose in a primary this year. Holding, who was first elected in 2012, had 52 percent of the vote with nearly two-thirds of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race. Ellmers, a three-term incumbent who was drawn into a new district this year and a rare incumbent-on-incumbent primary with Holding, trailed with 24 percent of the vote. Greg Brannon, a two-time Senate primary candidate, also got 24 percent. ... But an important factor in Ellmers being turned out was a rift with social conservatives over her brief opposition to the 20-week abortion ban. She stalled a vote planned to coincide with the March for Life in January 2015 — the biggest annual event for anti-abortion groups — to ensure that the rape exception didn’t mandate women to report the rape to police. (Schneider, 6/7)
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