As Feds Chip Away At Health Law, Where You Live Will More And More Determine Access, Quality Of Care
Many Republican-led states are rolling back the law's requirements, while blue states are building up consumer protections. This wildly different strategy will lead to a health care divide in America, experts say. Meanwhile, the legal minds behind the 20-state lawsuit against the health law are painstakingly plotting their path to the Supreme Court.
The Wall Street Journal:
Red And Blue States Move Further Apart On Health Policy
Democratic and Republican states are moving in opposite directions on health policy, leaving Americans with starkly divergent options for care depending on where they live. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans, by easing many of the Affordable Care Act’s nationwide requirements after failing last year to repeal the entire law, are effectively turning major components of health policy over to the states. The roughly half of states controlled by Republicans are therefore moving aggressively to roll back the law widely known as Obamacare, while the smaller number of Democratic states are working to bolster it. As a result, the health-care options in any given state are likely to depend on which party controls the statehouse. (Armour, 2/28)
Another Legal Cloud For Obamacare?
The latest lawsuit against Obamacare poses little immediate danger to the health care law — but it could look a lot more potent if the balance of the Supreme Court changes in the next two years. The case may look like a long shot, given that the courts have upheld the health law more than once. But proponents of Obamacare have notoriously underestimated the stream of legal challenges against the Affordable Care Act, and the staying power of the conservatives intent on scrapping the 2010 law. (Haberkorn, 2/27)
In other national health care news —
The New York Times:
Justice Dept. Backs High-Stakes Lawsuit Against Opioid Makers
The Justice Department is throwing its weight behind plaintiffs in a sprawling, high-stakes prescription opioids lawsuit in Ohio, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday. Mr. Sessions said that the Justice Department plans to file a so-called statement of interest in the lawsuit, a technique that past administrations have typically reserved for cases that directly affect the federal government’s interests, like diplomacy and national security. (Benner and Hoffman, 2/27)
The Associated Press:
DOJ To Support Lawsuits Against Companies Selling Opioids
The move is part of a broader effort to more aggressively target prescription drugmakers for their role in the epidemic, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. The Justice Department will file a statement of interest in the multidistrict lawsuit, arguing the federal government has borne substantial costs as a result of the crisis that claimed more than 64,000 lives in 2016. The Trump administration has said it is focusing intensely on fighting drug addiction, but critics say its efforts fall short of what is needed. (2/27)
Justice Department To Target Opioid Manufacturers And Distributors In A New Push To Curb Deadly Epidemic
In a move to address the nation's deadly opioid crisis, the Justice Department says it will target the prescription drug pipeline with a new focus on companies that manufacture and distribute the drugs. U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a task force Tuesday that he said would coordinate a crackdown on illegal practices by manufacturers, distributors, doctors, pain management clinics and pharmacies. (Tanfani, 2/27)
Senators Unveil Bipartisan Bill To Fight Opioid Epidemic
A bipartisan group of senators is introducing legislation Tuesday to address the opioid epidemic, framing it as a follow-up bill to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) signed into law in 2016. Dubbed CARA 2.0, the legislation includes a host of policy changes, such as establishing a three-day initial prescribing limit on opioids for acute pain, beefing up services to promote recovery and aiming to increase the availability of treatment. (Roubein, 2/27)
Ryan Throws Cold Water On Gun Control Push
House GOP leaders downplayed the need for Congress to pass expansive new gun control measures on Tuesday, instead turning their ire on the FBI and local law enforcement for failing to prevent the Parkland, Fla. school shooting. Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters at a press conference that “we shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens” but “focusing on making sure that citizens who shouldn’t get guns in the first place, don’t get those guns.” Ryan — who said arming teachers was a “good idea” but a local issue that Congress should not infringe upon — touted a House-passed bill to reinforce background checks under current law. (Bade, 2/27)
The Associated Press:
Embattled Shulkin Says He's Focusing On Improving Vets Care
Seeking to put a blistering travel controversy behind him, embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Tuesday he is focused on expanding medical care for veterans, even as he hints that rebellious VA staff remaining opposed to him may soon leave the department. Speaking to reporters at an American Legion event, Shulkin said he had delivered a clear message to department employees that he was in charge and that bad behavior wouldn't be tolerated. (2/27)
Pence: Abortion Will End In U.S. 'In Our Time'
Vice President Pence predicted Tuesday that legal abortion would end in the U.S. "in our time." "I know in my heart of hearts this will be the generation that restores life in America," Pence said at a luncheon in Nashville, Tenn., hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List & Life Institute, an anti-abortion organization. (Hellmann, 2/27)
Patients Would Like Their Data. Will The Medical Device Industry Listen?
Despite the growing openness of medical information in electronic health records and wearable gadgets, personal medical devices are still black boxes, off-limits to patients and caregivers. The industry, slow to adapt, has grappled with concerns over security, privacy, and patient safety. A web of balkanized regulations across several health agencies has further slowed potential changes. Typically, health care laws have considered data generated inside clinical settings part of the patient’s records. But the laws are less clear on how to treat data generated from implanted devices, which are often collected by device manufacturers or contractors they hire to manage that information. (Blau, 2/28)