On Capitol Hill: Medicare For All; Lowering Health Care Costs; And Maternal Mortality Rates
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the expected incoming House Ways and Means chairman, signaled his willingness to hold hearings on "Medicare for all," a popular priority for many progressive lawmakers in the party. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, health care costs are in the spotlight, as well as a bill aimed at reversing the country's maternal mortality rates.
Incoming Dem Chairman Open To Hearing On 'Medicare For All'
The incoming chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), said Tuesday that he is open to holding hearings on "Medicare for all" next year. ... The comments, while not a firm commitment, are some of the most encouraging toward Medicare for all supporters from a top House Democrat to date. Democratic leaders and key committee chairmen have so far not given support to Medicare for all, despite a push from the progressive wing of the party. (Sullivan, 12/11)
How Can We Lower Healthcare Costs? Key GOP Senator Seeks Ideas
Senate health committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) plans to have his panel next year work on legislation to address high healthcare costs. On Tuesday, the senator asked hospitals, insurers, patient groups, state regulators and think tanks to submit proposals for solutions by March 1, 2019. He sent a letter to the Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute and others he wants to hear from. (Luthi, 12/11)
House Passes Bipartisan Bill Aimed At Reversing Rising Maternal Mortality Rates
The House on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill aimed at reversing the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. in what supporters say is the strongest action yet that Congress has taken on the issue. The bill from Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) would support state-level efforts to track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths, and then look for ways to prevent future deaths from occurring. (Hellmann, 12/11)
In other national health care news —
The Washington Post:
Trump Loyalist At VA Forced Out After Collecting Pay But Doing Little Work
The Trump administration has forced out a senior White House political appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs who spent months on the federal payroll doing little to no work. Peter O’Rourke’s departure marks an unceremonious fall for a Trump loyalist once seen as a rising star at VA, where he nonetheless had a rocky tenure, first leading a high-profile office handling whistleblower complaints, next as chief of staff and then, for two months, as the agency’s acting secretary. (Rein and Dawsey, 12/11)
The New York Times:
How Do You Recover After Millions Have Watched You Overdose?
The first time Kelmae Hemphill watched herself overdose, she sobbed. There she was in a shaky video filmed by her own heroin dealer, sprawled out on a New Jersey road while a stranger pounded on her chest. “Come on, girl,” someone pleaded. Ms. Hemphill’s 11-year drug addiction, her criminal record, her struggles as a mother — they were now everybody’s business, splashed across the news and social media with a new genre of American horror film: the overdose video. As opioid deaths have soared in recent years, police departments and strangers with cameras have started posting raw, uncensored images of drug users passed out with needles in their arms and babies in the back seats of their cars. The videos rack up millions of views and unleash avalanches of outrage. Then some other viral moment comes along, and the country clicks away. (Seelye, Turkewitz, Healy and Blinder, 12/11)
The Associated Press:
Meth Playing Bigger Role In US Drug Overdose Crisis
A bigger share of U.S. drug overdose deaths are being caused by methamphetamine, government health officials reported. The number of fatal overdoses involving meth more than tripled between 2011 and 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday. The percentage of overdose deaths involving meth grew from less than 5 percent to nearly 11 percent. (12/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone
Danny Miner, a 66-year-old retired chemical plant supervisor, spends most days alone in his Tooele, Utah, apartment, with “Gunsmoke” reruns to keep him company and a phone that rarely rings. Old age wasn’t supposed to feel this lonely. Mr. Miner married five times, each bride bringing the promise of lifelong companionship. Three unions ended in divorce. Two wives died. Now his legs ache and his balance is faulty, and he’s stopped going to church or meeting friends at the Marine Corps League, a group for former Marines. “I get a little depressed from time to time,” he says. Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history, and the resulting loneliness is a looming public health threat. (Adamy and Overberg, 12/11)