The Weekly Insight: August 11

14th Aug 2017

The Week in Review: Last Week from Texas Insight

  • August 7:Update No. 2 85th Legislature Special Session:” There are only 10 days left of the special session, and while both the Senate and House have approved numerous bills internally and sent them to the other chamber, not one has made it to the Governor’s desk. The 20 items on Governor Abbott’s list of critical legislation—including the Sunset Legislation that was the major reason for calling everyone back in the first place—are no exception.
  • August 10: “HHSC: Early Childhood Intervention Advisory Committee:” The ECI Advisory committee met to receive updates on programs, training for new members and budget and legislation updates.
  • August 10:House Human Services Committee: Durable Medical Equipment:” The House Human Services Committee held a hearing partially to address issues that had developed relating to Durable Medical Equipment (DME), preferred provider agreements, and one MCO who almost everyone was angry with. A process was developed that will address the Legislature’s concerns.

Healthcare Policy News

  • The Trump administration is now confronted with the challenge of deciding how to oversee ObamaCare, a law it fiercely opposes but that is still on the books.
  • Republicans now say they want to stabilize the distressed Obamacare markets for 2018, but it may be too late – Insurers have warned for months that they need certainty from Washington in order to decide where they will sell Obamacare plans and how much to charge. But after months of fruitless repeal efforts and growing unease over White House threats about pulling funding and undermining the law, the damage may be done.
    • Representatives Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) are in talks for a bill that would stabilize ObamaCare markets. The measure would fund key ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reductions, possibly in exchange for expanded flexibility favored by conservatives for states to waive ObamaCare regulations through broadening an existing provision known as 1332 waivers.
  • The Trump administration is giving insurers more time to file their 2018 rate requests for ObamaCare plans—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Thursday it would extend the deadline by three weeks, to Sept. 5, with a final deadline of Sept. 20. This change comes as insurers wait to hear from the Trump administration about whether it will continue key ObamaCare subsidy payments known as cost-sharing reductions.
  • President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed his administration would beat the opioid epidemic by beefing up law enforcement and strengthening security on the southern border to stop illegal drugs from entering the country.
  • Following major price increases, use of two key cardiac medicines—nitroprusside and isoproterenol—has dramatically decreased at 47 hospitals according to a research letter that cardiologist Umesh Khot and two others published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The number of patients in these hospitals getting nitroprusside, which is given intravenously when a patient’s blood pressure is dangerously high, decreased 53 percent from 2012 to 2015, the researchers found. At the same time, the drug’s price per 50 milligrams jumped more than 30-fold — from $27.46 in 2012 to $880.88 in 2015.
  • The Trump administration has abruptly cut short grant programs aimed at ending teen pregnancy, leaving the institutions that receive the funds scrambling for answers. An office within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified 81 institutions across the U.S. that the five-year grants they were awarded would end two years sooner than planned.