Biological products are a growing class of medicines available to treat disease. Biological products differ from traditional drugs in a few key ways. Biologics are manufactured in living cells, while drugs are manufactured through a chemical process. Biosimilars, interchangeable biologicals and follow-on biologics are the names given to the “generic” versions of brand-name biologics. Even after an interchangeable biological is approved by the FDA, it must meet additional requirements to be considered “interchangeable.” The FDA must determine that the biosimilar can be expected to produce the same clinical result as the brand-name product in any patient and that it has similar safety risks as the brand-name product. At the point that the FDA deems a biosimilar interchangeable, state law will govern how substitutions will be allowed.

Naloxone is a very effective and safe substance to reduce the effects of opioid drug overdose and prevent deaths. Overdose deaths more than doubled between 1999 and 2010. In 2010, deaths from both prescription drug and illicit drug overdoses surpassed traffic accidents as the number one cause of death for persons less than 65 years old. States essentially use two policy options to increase access to naloxone. A small minority of states allow naloxone sales by a pharmacy without a prescription. A majority of states allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone under a standing order from a licensed medical professional.

The Act requires health care facilities that perform mammography examinations to communicate mammographic breast density information to patients.

The Act (Sections 1, 9) allows the practice of collaborative drug therapy management by a pharmacist. A pharmacist is allowed to perform patient care functions for a specific patient delegated to the pharmacist by a physician through a collaborative practice agreement. The physician remains responsible for the care of the patient throughout the collaborative drug therapy management process. A pharmacist may not alter a physician’s orders or directions, diagnose or treat any disease, independently prescribe drugs, or independently practice medicine. The Act also establishes a seven-member collaborative drug therapy management advisory committee.

The Act requires hospitals to give each patient or patient’s legal guardian an opportunity to designate a caregiver who will provide after-care assistance to the patient following discharge from the hospital. The Act also requires the hospital to record the name and contact information of the caregiver in the patient’s medical record and to notify the caregiver upon the patient’s discharge or transfer to another facility.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, John Bel Edwards signed his first executive order as Louisiana’s new governor to expand Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 300,000 individuals. The expansion is to be effective no later than July 1, 2016 according to the order.

Louisiana becomes the 31st state (plus DC) to expand Medicaid income eligibility as permitted by the Affordable Care Act.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard may find that the third time is the charm as he negotiates with the federal government to live up to its treaty obligations to provide health services to the state’s Native Americans. Twice before in recent state history, governors have tried and failed to solve the longstanding problem, which results in a massive cost shift to state revenues to pay for health care for many Native Americans. In his Dec. 8, 2015, budget address in Pierre, S.D., Daugaard proposed that should the federal government fulfill its obligation to provide health services to Native Americans, the state would use the projected $67 million annual savings to the state to finance the cost of Medicaid expansion.

CSG Director of Fiscal and Economic Development Policy Jennifer Burnett outlines the top five issues for 2016, including strategic decisions following modest revenue growth, workforce development, public pensions, federal instability, and health care costs. 

CSG Director of Health Policy Debra Miller outlines the top five issues in health policy for 2016, including Medicaid expansion, substance abuse and drug overdoses, cost containment, the graying of America, and population health. 

#1  Medicaid Expansion

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level as allowed by the Affordable Care Act, and they will be required to contribute matching funds beginning Jan. 1, 2017. This means that legislatures in those states will have to appropriate state funds during their budget sessions in 2016.  

The federal funding will decrease from covering 100 percent of the newly eligible...

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