Debra Miller

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Kaiser Family Foundation has posted an excellent web panel discussion on drug pricing. Representatives from Pfizer, a large international pharmaceutical company; Express Scripts, and Aetna, a major health insurance carrier, talk with Larry Levitt, a Kaiser senior vice president.

In a key action to increase access to medication assisted treatment for persons addicted to opioid drugs, this week the Department of Health and Human Services released a final regulation to allow physicians to increase from 100 to 275 the number of patients for whom they can prescribe buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is one of three FDA-approved medications to treat addiction. It is addictive and can be abused. Sometimes it is combined with naloxone, sold under the brand name Suboxone, to decrease its euphoric  properties. Buprenorphine is covered by state Medicaid programs, although certain restrictions and time limits may exist in some states. 

On July 1, 2016, a new law went into effect in California that will no longer allow parents to withhold vaccinating their school-aged children because of religious or personal beliefs. SB 277 only allows for exceptions for children with documented medical issues.

A group of parents filed suit on the same day the law took effect, according to the Associated Press.

CSG Midwest
Minnesota was an early adopter of the use of health care homes, and a five-year study of their impact shows promising results for any state looking to reduce health costs and improve patient outcomes.
“Given how much is spent for Medicaid, Medicare and dually eligible enrollees, you can create large savings and bend the cost curve,” says Douglas Wholey, a professor of health policy at the University of Minnesota and the study’s lead evaluator.

Gov. Matt Bevin, elected in November 2015 and who had pledged during his campaign to eliminate Medicaid expansion which brought health coverage to 400,000 previously uninsured individuals, announced yesterday his plan to transform Kentucky’s Medicaid system through an 1115 waiver. The new waiver will cover almost all the Medicaid enrollees eligible under the pre-expansion rules as well as all the newly eligible under the expansion rules.

Bevin said his plan is an opportunity “to come up with what is going to be truly a transformative and sustainable and fantastic program,” according The Courier-Journal coverage of the press conference. He pledged to both save money—$2.2 billion in combined state and federal funding over the next five years—and reduce the number of Medicaid enrollees—86,000 people by 2021 by moving them to private insurance.  

In June, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is celebrated around the world.

Four years after the Older Americans Act expired, the bill was reauthorized by Congress and on April 16, 2016, signed into law once again by President Obama.

On June 3, 2016, Gov. Kasich of Ohio signed into law a bill to allow bystanders to break into hot cars with unattended children or pets. Some states already have on the books one or more of three types of laws addressing this issue. Twenty states have laws to specifically address the issue of unattended children in cars, outside of any child neglect and abuse laws that would address endangering a child's welfare. Sixteen states have "good samaritan" laws that protect individuals from civil liability if they provide assistance in...

All reported cases of Zika virus in the 50 states remain tied to travel, according to new CDC data released on June 8, 2016. The number of cases in the 50 states and the territories has increased to 691from 426 in May's data. In Puerto Rico, the number of cases that are attributed to local mosquitos infected with the Zika virus has climbed to 1,259, doubled from CDC's May data. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May 2016 that teen pregnancies were at an all-time low. The national rate has fallen to 25.4 pregnancies per 1,000 females ages 15-19, for the years 2013-2014. Just 20 years ago, the national teen pregnancy rate was more than 100 pregnancies per 1,000 females, ages 15-19.

An informational bulletin was released June 1, 2016,  by federal Medicaid officials to inform states how to use Medicaid funds to help states and territorities to prevent, detect and respond to the Zika virus.

For instance, states could choose to cover the costs of over-the-counter insect repellants if prescribed by a health care professional. Additional family planning counseling can be a tool to prevent the spread of the Zika virus and...

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