The Health News USA December 3 2017

  • Abortion opponents in Illinois filed a lawsuit on Thursday to block a recently approved law expanding state-funded coverage of abortions for low-income Medicaid recipients and state workers. The lawsuit was filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court on behalf of taxpayers by the conservative Thomas More Society, along with some state lawmakers and anti-abortion groups.The lawsuit also argued that the law could not take effect until June 2018, instead of January, because of when it was approved.
  • President Trump will donate his third quarter salary as president back to the government for programs to raise awareness of opioid addiction. His first quarter salary — which amounted to $78,333.32 because he didn’t take office until Jan. 20 — went to the National Park Service to help restore Civil War battlefields. His second-quarter salary of $100,000 went to the Department of Education for summer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.
  • The U.S. government is considering setting new payment methods aimed at curbing costs for Medicare and Medicaid coverage of breakthrough medical treatments with very high prices, particularly novel gene-based therapies for cancer and other diseases. CMS, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually on medicines for seniors, disabled people and low-income households through the huge Medicare and Medicaid programs.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 3rd of December 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-illinois-abortion-lawsuit/lawsuit-seeks-to-block-illinois-abortion-coverage-expansion-idUSKBN1DU30Q

Abortion opponents in Illinois filed a lawsuit on Thursday to block a recently approved law expanding state-funded coverage of abortions for low-income Medicaid recipients and state workers. The lawsuit was filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court on behalf of taxpayers by the conservative Thomas More Society, along with some state lawmakers and anti-abortion groups.
It asked a judge to block state funding for the law, arguing that the state failed to set aside up to thirty million dollars in the budget to pay for abortions. The lawsuit also argued that the law could not take effect until June two thousand eighteen, instead of January, because of when it was approved.

Peter Breen, a Republican state lawmaker and an attorney for the Thomas More Society, said on Thursday: “The people of Illinois are opposed to taxpayer funded abortion, especially with the terrible financial state that Illinois is in.” He argued that the state would have to pay for up to thirty thousand abortions a year. Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill in September, upsetting many conservatives.
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The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois supported the law, saying it would keep women from being denied abortion coverage just because they were on Medicaid or worked for the state. Medicaid is a government healthcare program for the poor and disabled.

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About fifteen other states allow Medicaid to pay for abortion, including some required by courts, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Illinois was the first state in decades to voluntarily lift a restriction on such services. Illinois’ Medicaid program has previously covered abortions in cases of rape, incest and when a mother’s life or health is threatened.The expansion would enable poor women to obtain elective abortions. The law would also allow state employees to have the procedures covered under state health insurance.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/11/30/trump-donates-part-his-salary-federal-opioid-awareness-campaign/910838001/

President Trump will donate his third quarter salary as president back to the government for programs to raise awareness of opioid addiction, the Trump administration announced Thursday. Acting Health Secretary Eric Hargan said at the White House Thursday: “Part of the way we aim to stop this crisis is by raising awareness of how devastating and deadly drug addiction can be.”

Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October in response to a growing epidemic of addiction that includes prescription painkillers, heroin and deadly synthetic drugs. Trump said the administration would beef up enforcement and treatment efforts, but that there was no substitute for prevention.

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Trump has pledged to donate his presidential salary of about four hundred dollars a year back to the government, with a different agency receiving a donation each quarter. His first quarter salary — which amounted to seventy eight thousand three hundred thirty three dollars and thirty two cents because he didn’t take office until January twenty — went to the National Park Service to help restore Civil War battlefields.  His second-quarter salary of one hundred thousand dollars went to the Department of Education for summer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.  Like charitable donations, contributions to the federal government are tax deductible

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-verma/exclusive-u-s-health-regulator-verma-eyes-new-methods-for-drug-pricing-idUSKBN1DU31R?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews

The U.S. government is considering setting new payment methods aimed at curbing costs for Medicare and Medicaid coverage of breakthrough medical treatments with very high prices, particularly novel gene-based therapies for cancer and other diseases, a top health official said on Thursday.Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), made the comments in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York. CMS, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually on medicines for seniors, disabled people and low-income households through the huge Medicare and Medicaid programs. CMS does not negotiate prices or purchase drugs, but sets ground rules for the managed care companies and state Medicaid agencies that do.
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Roughly one hundred twenty five million Americans are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
The United States is the world’s most expensive market for prescription drugs. Government agencies and private sector companies are struggling to cover the costs of new medicines that have made the most progress to date in treating cancer and rare genetic disorders, some with annual price tags of nearly five hundred thousand dollars. Verma said one model under consideration was paying different prices for a single drug based on its success treating a particular condition, such as paying more for a therapy that works better for breast cancer than it does for lung cancer or liver cancer. A second method would be to extend the payment of an extremely expensive medicine over a longer time-frame, rather than immediately after it is given to a patient, Verma added, saying both are being tested by private sector pharmacy benefit managers.

That approach could be particularly useful for gene-based therapies aimed at small patient populations, she said. One such treatment expected to be approved by early next year is Spark Therapeutics’ therapy for a genetic mutation that causes blindness in around one thousand to two thousand patients. Some industry experts expect it to carry a list price of as much as one million dollars.

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