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5. Political Cartoon: 'Eye Of The Beholder?'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Eye Of The Beholder?'" by Dave Coverly, Speed Bump.

Here's today's health policy haiku:


Health care no bargain
At $10,000 per
U.S. resident.

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Summaries Of The News:

Spending And Fiscal Battles

6. National Health Spending Expected To Hit New High Of $10,000 Per Person

CMS estimates that the 5.5 percent increase in 2015 totals $3.2 trillion. After several years of lower growth, the acceleration is largely attributed to a stronger economy, an uptick in medical prices and an aging baby boomers, as well as specialty drug costs.

The New York Times: National Health Spending To Surpass $10,000 A Person In 2016
National health spending will average more than $10,000 a person this year for the first time, the Obama administration said Wednesday, a milestone that heralds somewhat faster growth in health spending after several years of exceptionally low growth. By 2025, the administration reported, health care will represent 20 percent of the total economy, up from 17.8 percent last year. By 2025, one of every five Americans will be on Medicare, and the program will spend an average of nearly $18,000 a year for each beneficiary. Medicare spent about $12,000 per beneficiary in 2015. (Pear, 7/13)

The Washington Post: Health Care Spending Is Projected To Grow Much Faster Than The Economy
The report, compiled by a team of government actuaries, shows overall health spending picking up after a historic slowdown, but the growth remains lower than the nearly 8 percent annual growth in the two decades before the Great Recession. The Obama administration — including the president himself in a recent essay — has credited the Affordable Care Act with keeping health expenditures in check. But economists remain uncertain whether the slowdown in spending is because of provisions of the law or might be explained by other factors. (Johnson, 7/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Pace Of U.S. Health Spending Increased In 2015, With Further Rise Expected
The pickup in the past two years follows five consecutive years in which average spending growth through 2013 was less than 4% annually, the lowest rates since the government began tracking health-care spending in the 1960s. The acceleration is largely attributed to a stronger economy, faster growth in medical prices and an aging baby boom generation. Spending growth in 2014 and 2015 was also driven by expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act because it means more people are using health services. At the same time, the law has helped rein in spending growth, administration officials said. However, the actuaries said quantitative estimates that measure the impact of the ACA aren’t yet available. (Armour, 7/13)

The Hill: US Health Spending Rises To $3.2 Trillion
Drug spending has been a particularly scrutinized area given calls to address the rising cost of prescription medications. The report finds that drug spending grew 8.1 percent last year, a slight slowdown from the spike of 12.2 percent the year before. (Sullivan, 7/13)

Modern Healthcare: Healthcare Spending Growth Rate Rises Again In 2015
CMS actuaries wrote that higher rates of health coverage through Medicaid expansion and the ACA's public exchanges, as well as more people getting insurance through their employers, “resulted in a slight acceleration in spending growth.” Indeed, 2014 kicked off the full-scale rollout of expanded Medicaid eligibility for all people who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level as well as the introduction of the state and federal insurance marketplaces. The exchanges have become financial headaches for many health insurers, though not all. (Herman, 7/13)

Morning Consult: Health Care Expenditures Heading Toward 20 Percent Of Economy
“The Affordable Care Act continues to help keep overall health spending growth at a modest level and at a lower growth rate than the previous two decades. This progress is occurring while also helping more Americans get coverage, often for the first time,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in a statement. (Owens, 7/13)

Capitol Hill Watch

7. Despite Discord Over Funding, Congress Sends Opioid Bill To President's Desk

The legislation, which passed the Senate 92-2, focuses on treatment and recovery efforts but the authorized spending has not been appropriated. This is "the first time that we’ve treated addiction like the disease that it is," says Sen. Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.

The New York Times: Senate Approves Bill To Combat Opioid Addiction Crisis
The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis, sending to the president’s desk the most sweeping drug legislation in years in a rare instance of consensus in Congress. The measure, which passed, 92 to 2, would strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery efforts, largely by empowering medical professionals and law enforcement officials with more tools to help drug addicts. It would also expand access to a drug that emergency medical workers could use to help reverse overdoses and improve treatment for the incarcerated. (Huetteman, 7/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Congress Passes Bill To Fight Opioid Abuse, But Funding Clash Continues
The legislation will authorize almost $900 million over five years for prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts to fight the health crisis. “This is a historic moment, the first time in decades that Congress has passed comprehensive addiction legislation, and the first time Congress has ever supported long-term addiction recovery,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), who along with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) introduced the Senate version of the bill. (O'Keeffe, 7/13)

Stat: Senate Sends First Major Opioids Legislation To Obama’s Desk
The legislation would create a $100 million-per-year grant program within the US Department of Justice to support states in fighting opioid addiction. Programs that offer an alternative to jail time, overdose training for first responders, and prescription drug-monitoring programs are some of the efforts that could be funded. Other provisions include allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to administer medication-assisted treatment, undertaking awareness campaigns to try to deter opioid abuse, and requiring the US Department of Health and Human Services to set up a task force on pain management. (Scott, 7/13)

Politico Pro: Without Money, CARA Not Expected To Impact Opioid Crisis Soon
The catch is it doesn’t include a penny to fund them, although Republicans are pledging to provide resources to back up the bill through appropriations later this year. But when Congress returns in September, it’s expected to keep the government running with a continuing resolution, which typically keeps funding flat. “After the confetti has fallen and the champagne corks have popped, people are going to look back and say, ‘Where is this new funding? What are these new programs?’” said Daniel Raymond, policy director of the Harm Reduction Coalition and a supporter of the legislation. (Norman, 7/13)

The Hill: Congress Sends First Major Opioids Bill To Obama's Desk
The slow pace of action from Congress has, at times, drawn fierce criticism from advocates, particularly the families of people who have died of overdoses, who say national and state leaders have ignored the warning signs. Many say the Obama administration and the GOP-led Congress are not thinking big enough to tackle the problem. “I don’t think the speed at which the solutions are being adopted are even close to what they should be based on the enormity of the issue,” Gary Mendell, the founder and CEO of an anti-addiction group called Shatterproof, told The Hill earlier this year. “It’s not right, in relation to the amount of suffering that’s going on.” (Ferris, 7/13)

The Associated Press: Congress Sends Obama Compromise Drug-Abuse Bill
In a statement, the White House said Obama would sign the bill while expre

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