In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island, and Newt Gingrich, who was once the House speaker, are advancing policies to combat this national crisis. (Shefali Luthra, 7/7)
The state’s Medicaid program quit covering the expensive therapy, called applied behavioral analysis, leaving some families scrambling to afford the treatment. (Kate Harrington, 7/7)
A new health benefit available to millions of Californians encourages people to discuss end-of-life care options with their doctors. (Emily Bazar, 7/7)
A study in Health Affairs finds Medicare Part D beneficiaries were charged copays averaging 10.5 times more for Crestor and Nexium than generic drugs would have cost them. (Rachel Bluth, 7/6)
Researchers examined shoppers’ reviews of sunscreen products on Amazon.com and found that their the ratings often were based on scent, texture and performance, but didn’t necessarily take into account whether the products were consistent with dermatologists’ recommendations. (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, 7/6)
A Health Affairs study determines that Part D spending went down slightly on prescription drugs for which medical marijuana is viewed as a possible alternative. (Shefali Luthra, 7/6)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Some Like It Hot'" by Alex Hallatt.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
PICKING OUT SUNSCREEN
Shoppers choose based on
Scent, texture, performance but
Not always guidelines.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Summaries Of The News:
The report by two House committees is expected to be released Thursday. Also in the news, a study finds that the health law's insurance surcharges for tobacco users were not effective, more concerns are raised about co-ops set up under Obamacare and a new plan comes into the marketplace in Wisconsin.
The New York Times: House G.O.P. Returns Focus To Obamacare’s Spending Authority
The Obama administration knowingly spent billions in health care dollars without proper congressional authority and went to “great lengths” to impede congressional scrutiny of the money, Republicans on two major House committees said in a report that will be made public on Thursday. An extensive investigation by the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce Committees concluded that the administration plowed ahead with funding for a consumer cost-reduction program that was central to the new health insurance law even though Congress did not provide money for it. (Huse, 7/7)
Bloomberg: Obamacare’s Tobacco Surcharges Slowed Universal Health Care In Study
The Affordable Care Act was meant to have a particular impact on smokers when it was enacted: It would shift the burden of high health-care costs from smoking ailments to the smokers themselves—17 percent of American adults in 2014. At the same time, the ACA would keep making progress toward the goal of universal health care, even for smokers. It fell short on both goals in its first year, a study released Wednesday by the Yale School of Public Health found. (Ramkumar, 7/6)
Houston Chronicle: Tobacco Surcharges Lower Insurance Enrollment
A tobacco surcharge levied by some insurers has led to lower enrollment in health coverage — but not to lower smoking rates. That’s according to a new study by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health, which examined the tobacco surcharge allowed under the Affordable Care Act. ...The legislation, among other things, allowed insurance plans to to levy a surcharge of up to 50 percent on tobacco users’ premiums. (Cuba, 7/6)
Morning Consult: Group Representing Insurance Co-Ops Criticizes ACA Program
An organization representing state health insurance co-ops criticized the Affordable Care Act’s risk adjustment formula as a failure causing difficulties for the nonprofit insurers created under the law. The announcement from the National Alliance of State Health Co-Ops came a day after HealthyCT, the Connecticut co-op, was put under an order of suspension, signaling the co-op would start taking steps to shut down. Kelly Crowe, the group’s CEO, said the case was not a “one-off example.” (McIntire, 7/6)
The Baltimore Sun: Evergreen Health To Pay $24 Million Under Affordable Care Act Program
Evergreen Health Cooperative must pay $24.2 million to its biggest competitor because of an Affordable Care Act program that aims to level the playing field for insurers taking on riskier customers from state health insurance exchanges. (Gantz, 7/6)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Children's Hospital To Sell Health Plans On Federal Marketplace Next Year
Children's Community Health Plan, which is owned by Children's Hospital and Health System, plans to sell insurance on the federal marketplace set up through the Affordable Care Act. The plan oversees the care of 135,000 people covered by BadgerCare Plus, the state's largest Medicaid program, and had operating revenue of $237.8 million last year. The move to sell insurance on the federal exchange will give people in six counties in southeastern Wisconsin another option on the marketplace next year, and it comes as some health insurers are abandoning the marketplaces after incurring large losses. (Boulton, 7/6)
What started out as bipartisan legislation has devolved into party politics as Democrats try to add funding to the bill. Without the money, the measure's future in getting through the full Senate is uncertain.
The New York Times: Congress Splits Over Bill Aimed At Nation’s Opioid Epidemic
A partisan feud over money to treat drug addicts split a House and Senate conference committee on Wednesday as it considered legislation to address the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic, imperiling a bill many had hoped would be one of this Congress’s most significant accomplishments. Democrats on the conference committee lost in their effort to insist that the bill include at least $920 million to help pay for additional treatment of addicts, most of whom cannot find or afford the treatment they need. (Harris, 7/6)
Reuters: U.S. Republicans Reject Democratic Funding Proposals For Opioids
Republican lawmakers in U.S. Congress on Wednesday rejected two Democratic amendments to provide nearly $1 billion in funding for bipartisan legislation intended to combat America's opioid epidemic, aides said. The rejection, which came during a meeting of U.S. House of Representatives and Senate negotiators on the measure, could undermine Democratic support for final legislation that could come up for a vote in the House of Representatives as early as Friday. (Morgan, 7/6)
The Washington Post: Political Divide Over Funding Threatens Fate Of Popular Opioid Bill
The bill is popular with members in both parties and several lawmakers in tough re-election contests are eager to promote it back home as evidence they are getting things done in Washington. But Democrats have long pushed for the additional funding arguing that without it the bill will not deliver on its promise to help stem the growing abuse of opioids across the country. “We are debating a bill to address the opioid epidemic. It should include the funding necessary to actually fight that epidemic,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the conference committee that drafted the bill. (Demirjian, 7/6)