October 14, 2018, Associated Press, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar- Low-income people in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are much more likely to forgo needed medical care than the poor in other states, according to a government report due out Monday amid election debates from Georgia to Utah over coverage for the needy. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office worked with the National Center for Health Statistics to analyze federal survey data from 2016. The research focused on low-income adults ages 19-64 in states that did not expand Medicaid under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, compared to their peers in states that did. Medicaid expansion is an issue in several high-profile gubernatorial contests and in states where supporters have gotten referendum questions on the ballot. Under the law, states may expand Medicaid for low-income people making up to roughly $16,750 for an individual or $34,640 for a family of four. Seventeen states have not adopted the expansion, opposed by many - but not all - Republicans.
October 13, 2018, Daily Journal, Dillon Mullan- Molly Massey eats cucumbers with her hands, while classmate Kallin Sudduth digs at his broccoli with a fork. At the other end of the lunch table, Christian Fair has a bowl full of carrots. As second-graders passed through the lunch line at Joyner Elementary on a Thursday in early October, 37 of the first 59 students chose to take vegetables from the salad bar. “I like to be healthy,” Fair said. “I go to the salad bar because I want to be healthy and strong.” With salad bars and vegetable gardens, the Tupelo Public School District exposes its pre-K and elementary students to healthy food sources and eating habits. Yet even as the district fights back with education and farming experience, obesity in Mississippi is a public health crisis. Across the state, poor examples set by adults and entrenched advertising campaigns promote cases of childhood obesity that set the youth on a path toward life-threatening chronic diseases.
October 11, 2018, PBS News Hour, Jamie Leventhal- Vaccine exemption rates among infants and school-aged children have been quietly rising, creating volatile pockets of unimmunized individuals, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. For the third consecutive school year, unvaccinated communities have seen small but notable growth, according to the CDC’s latest National Immunization Survey. One school in Oregon has toddler vaccination rates lower than those in Venezuela. Only half of the preschoolers in the state received their MMR vaccines, compared to 57 percent of Venezuelan toddlers. One school in Oregon has toddler vaccination rates lower than those in Venezuela. Overall, the CDC reported child vaccination rates have been steadily increasing since 2001. The agency’s survey encompasses millions of children across 49 states* and the District of Columbia by pulling data from health care providers and schools. Their findings show that vaccine coverage remains high for 19- to 35-month olds and kindergarteners. But the median percentage of kindergarteners with an exemption rose from 2 percent in 2016 to 2.2 percent in 2017.
October 11, 2018, KHN, Julie Rovner- Ensuring that people with preexisting health conditions can get and keep health insurance is the most popular part of the Affordable Care Act. It has also become a flashpoint in this fall’s campaigns across the country. And not only is the ACA, which mostly protects people who buy their own coverage, at risk. Also potentially in the crosshairs are preexisting conditions protections that predate the federal health law. Democrats charge that Republicans’ opposition to the ACA puts those protections in peril, both by their (unsuccessful) votes in Congress in 2017 to “repeal and replace” the law, and via a federal lawsuit underway in Texas. “800,000 West Virginians with preexisting conditions in jeopardy of losing their health care,” claimed Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Republicans disagree. “Preexisting conditions are safe,” President Donald Trump declared at a rally in West Virginia for Manchin’s GOP opponent, Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey, West Virginia’s attorney general, is one of a group of state officials suing to overturn the ACA.
After two years of double-digit price hikes, the average premium for individual health coverage on the federal health law’s insurance marketplace will drop by 1.5 percent for 2019, the Trump administration said Thursday. The announcement marked the first time average premiums have fallen since the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014. It also comes during a bitter midterm congressional campaign season in which health care is a central issue following last year’s efforts by Republicans to repeal the ACA. Administration officials claimed credit for the price drop, saying it was due to their actions to make changes to the law. Health policy experts said it was a reaction to insurers’ huge profits following hefty premium increases on plans offered this year. The federal exchange covers about 9 million people in 39 states. The other states and the District of Columbia have their own online marketplaces and were not included in the report.
Colorado’s and Mississippi’s Medicaid programs have ordered hospitals to report which medications they receive 340B discounts for, marking the latest effort to curb state drug spending. Currently, many states don’t know what hospitals are paying for drugs after rebates, which may inflate state government drug spending under Medicaid. The information would allow them to adjust reimbursements or determine which drugs weren’t discounted so the state can seek drugmaker rebates.Hospitals in the states have until Nov. 1 to give Colorado and Mississippi the 340B information, and their drug claims could be denied if they fail to comply with the requirement. In Mississippi, providers must identify 340B-purchased drugs on medical and retail pharmacy claims submitted to the state for Medicaid payment. Colorado’s notice targets retail pharmacies at hospitals, which need to indicate if they provide only 340B-purchased drugs or no 340B-purchased drugs to Medicaid enrollees. They must choose one or the other.