The Health News USA February 8 2018

  • West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey unveiled a plan Tuesday that takes aim at the people many blame for fueling the opioid epidemic that has ravaged this state: doctors. Under the plan, physicians would be barred from prescribing more than a three-day supply of opiates to adults or minors during an initial visit — and require them to “review the state’s controlled substance monitoring database” each time they prescribe an opioid, not once a year as is done now.
  • As lawmakers face another deadline this week for passing legislation to keep the federal government open, one of the outstanding issues is long-term funding for a key health care safety-net program. The Community Health Center program serves 27 million people at almost 10,000 nonprofit clinics nationwide, almost all of which are in low-income rural and urban areas. Nationwide, 20% of health centers have instituted a hiring freeze already, and 4% have laid off staff.
  • A new study of first graders suggests that as many as 1 in 10 U.S. children may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, far more than previously thought.  Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is an umbrella term for a range of physical, psychological, behavioral and cognitive problems that can develop in children whose mothers drink during pregnancy. The most severe form, fetal alcohol syndrome, can cause stunted growth, learning disabilities, bone and joint deformities, heart defects, and hyperactivity.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 8th of February 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/west-virginia-attorney-general-proposes-limiting-opioid-prescriptions-just-3-n845261

West Virginia’s top prosecutor unveiled a plan Tuesday that takes aim at the people many blame for fueling the opioid epidemic that has ravaged this state: doctors. Under the plan, physicians would be barred from prescribing more than a three-day supply of opiates to adults or minors during an initial visit — and require them to “review the state’s controlled substance monitoring database” each time they prescribe an opioid, not once a year as is done now.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a statement: “Enforcing such a provision would foster an attitude of care over cash among doctors.” The same three-day limit would apply for dentists and optometrists, according to the proposed legislation. And no physician would be allowed to “issue an opiate prescription for more than a seven-day supply.”
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Morrisey’s move comes on the heels of reports by NBC News and other news outlets that two pharmacies in Williamson dispensed some twenty point eight million prescription painkillers over a decade in a town that has just three thousand one hundred ninety one residents — a rate of six thousand five hundred opioid pills per person. A spokeswoman for Morrisey said an anti-opioids plan was already in the works and that the AG’s office — in conjunction with the governor’s office — is doing a survey to see what law enforcement in all of West Virginia’s fifty five counties need the combat the crisis. Those findings will be presented to lawmakers in May.

West Virginia already has the dubious distinction of having the highest fatal drug overdose rate in the country — fifty two per one hundred thousand residents — according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2018-02-05/political-dysfunction-in-washington-affects-community-health-centers

As lawmakers face another deadline this week for passing legislation to keep the federal government open, one of the outstanding issues is long-term funding for a key health care safety-net program. The Community Health Center program serves twenty seven million people at almost ten thousand nonprofit clinics nationwide, almost all of which are in low-income rural and urban areas.

Congress has allocated three point six billion dollars annually to the health centers in recent years. That represents about twenty percent of the centers’ budgets – much of the rest comes in reimbursements for services. The money, health center advocates and directors say, is critical to providing services not always covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance, including mental health and substance abuse care, transportation and in-home visits. Congress was expected to renew long-term funding for the centers on January twenty two when lawmakers funded, for six years, the Children’s Health Insurance Program. One in ten kids covered under CHIP gets most of their care at a community health center. But that short-term budget agreement didn’t deal with the centers. Although federal money for the centers ran out on October one, a previous budget patch provided temporary funds through March thirty one.

Nationwide, twenty percent of health centers have instituted a hiring freeze already, and four percent have laid off staff. Another fifty three percent said they might lay off staff if federal funding is not forthcoming, according to a survey of community health centers by George Washington University and Kaiser Family Foundation researchers released last week.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-newborns-fetal-alcohol/up-to-one-in-10-u-s-kids-may-have-fetal-alcohol-disorders-idUSKBN1FQ2JD

A new study of first graders suggests that as many as one in ten U.S. children may have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, far more than previously thought.  Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder is an umbrella term for a range of physical, psychological, behavioral and cognitive problems that can develop in children whose mothers drink during pregnancy. The most severe form, fetal alcohol syndrome, can cause stunted growth, learning disabilities, bone and joint deformities, heart defects, and hyperactivity.

Even though early diagnosis and treatment can sometimes reduce the severity of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, the vast majority of cases remain undiagnosed. Prior estimates, which suggested that only one in one hundred kids is affected, may have grossly underestimated the problem, researchers note in JAMA.

The current study focused on thirteen thousand one hundred forty six first-grade students in four communities in the Rocky Mountain, Midwestern, Southeastern and Pacific Southwestern regions of the U.S. This included six thousand fifty four children who were screened for growth, development, or both, as well as five hundred eighty five children who were randomly selected to receive detailed clinical exams for physical abnormalities linked to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Overall, researchers identified two hundred twenty two cases of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, including twenty seven severe cases that met the criteria for fetal alcohol syndrome. Only two of these kids had already been diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, even though many of their parents and guardians were aware that their children faced learning and behavioral challenges.
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Now, the proportion of kids with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders ranged from a low of three point one percent in the Southeastern group to nine point nine percent for the Rocky Mountain community.

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