Republicans And Democrats Find Common Ground In Efforts To Ramp Up Scrutiny Of Veterans Affairs Department
Next year, lawmakers are expected to take on various pieces of legislation and an array of investigations on such issues as preventing veteran suicide, the quality of VA nursing homes and the implementation of the Choice program, a comprehensive measure concerning veterans health care passed this year.
The New York Times:
Republicans And Democrats Unite On At Least One Issue: Oversight Of The V.A.
Even before the next Congress convenes, Republicans are joining Democrats in a vigorous examination of failings by the Department of Veterans Affairs, a rare area of bipartisan oversight in a blistering political environment. The unity was emphasized in recent weeks when lawmakers in the House and Senate from both parties sharply criticized the response of department officials after it was revealed that the agency failed to make housing and tuition payments under the G.I. Bill after its computer systems were unable to keep up with recent changes to that law. (Steinhauer, 12/10)
In other national health care news —
Obama: 'No Ferns. No Memes' In Final Plea Urging People To Sign Up For ObamaCare
Former President Obama on Monday took to Twitter to urge his followers to sign up for health insurance before the Saturday deadline. Obama mentioned how in the past he had made more light-hearted efforts in trying to boost enrollment into ObamaCare, but said this year he decided to play it straight. “This year is different,” Obama says in a video to his Twitter followers. “Young people have stepped up like never before, on campuses, at the voting booth and at the doors of power.” (Daugherty, 12/10)
NIH To Fund Research Into Fetal Tissue Alternatives
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is looking for alternatives to fetal tissue in research projects after facing pressure from anti-abortion groups. NIH announced Monday a new program that would spend up to $20 million over two years to find and develop alternatives to using fetal tissue in research projects. (Hellmann, 12/10)
Health Insurer, Employer Groups Call On Congress To End Surprise Billing
Nine groups representing health insurers, employers and consumers on Monday called for federal legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers. Surprise medical bills may arise when a patient unintentionally visits a doctor or healthcare facility that does not contract with the patient's health insurer. This sometimes occurs when patients are taken to an out-of-network emergency department during a crisis. Surprise billing is common, with 4 in 10 insured adults reporting they received a surprise medical bill in the last year, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found in September. (Livingston, 12/10)
Cases Of Polio-Like Illness Hit Record High
The CDC confirmed 22 cases in 2015 and 149 in 2016. In 2017, the CDC confirmed 35 cases. AFM, a serious condition that affects the nervous system, is still rare, the CDC said. Most AFM patients had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM. The CDC still does not know the cause of AFM, however. (Hellmann, 12/10)