Healthcare update


May 7, 2018: Healthcare update and other health-related news stories

Buried in the Stormy Daniels-Trump scandal, the Mueller investigation, the North and South Korea meeting, and so much more, healthcare and health-related stories are nevertheless making the news.

From Vox, I read that CMS Administrator Seema Verma told Kansas officials that her agency would not approve the state’s request to impose lifetime limits of 3 years on Medicaid patients. Ms. Verma did say the Trump administration had approved other states’ proposals to cut off Medicaid if the recipients failed to meet the work requirement.

The Republicans proselytize their belief that by forcing patients to contribute to their healthcare in some way or prove their qualifications for assistance, they will appreciate it more and feel they’re contributing to the system and be more directed toward living healthier lives. But Ms Verma’s response to Kansas indicated that cutting off a person’s Medicaid solely because of the length of time they had been enrolled would not meet that standard, and Vox reports this as “a big deal” and a win for Medicaid advocates. At least for now the Republicans do not want to shrink the program to the point of a culling-the-herd approach.

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From the NEA Insider comes a warning to beware the Farm Bill (H.R. 2), arriving for mark up as early as this week. The Farm Bill includes big changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), our country’s largest program to fight hunger. SNAP provides food to one in five U.S. children, and H.R. 2 could remove up to 265,000 students from the program. Hungry students struggle to learn, and hunger can slow brain development. This would be a good time to contact your representative and senator.

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The NY Times editorial on May 6th caught my eye with its title, “The New Era of Abstinence.” The Department of Health and Human Services is quietly promoting an “anti-science, ideological agenda.” Last year the department prematurely ended some grants to teen pregnancy programs with the claim they weren’t effective, and they are resetting the grant rules to favor programs with emphasis on abstinence only. In reality however, data collected over several years shows over and over that teaching teens about a variety of contraception methods has been accompanied by a drastic decrease in unwanted teen pregnancy.

The administration also plans to move Title X Family Planning funds to programs with a “just say no,” abstinence only approach, or to the unreliable rhythm method of birth control, for single, adult, poor women.

Whether aimed at teens or adults, abstinence only programs are full of disinformation and misinformation and preposterous unscientific claims. The results of such programs include unwanted pregnancy and a proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases.

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At the local level, Illinois is trying to pass SB 2388 SFA1, the Short-Term Limited Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act. This law is designed to protect Illinoisans from short-term insurance plans that offer inconsistent coverage and disrupt the health insurance market. These junk plans do not follow protections built into the ACA, like mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions. The proposed SB 2388 SFA1 would protect consumers from these plans by prohibiting them in the state.

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As the 2018 Midterm Elections draw closer, it is interesting to note that traditionally red states Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho are trying to put Medicaid expansion on their ballots. With the opioid epidemic, people will rely on Medicaid to provide the programs to help address this crisis, in addition to all the other necessary services it provides to patients.

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Bev George

Indivisible Naperville Healthcare Reporter