OVERNIGHT HEALTHCARE: More ‘bumps’ ahead for O-Care?

A top official from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told lawmakers Thursday that the agency expects more “bumps” during the 2015 ObamaCare enrollment period.

“I expect it won’t be perfect serving millions of people,” new CMS Principal Deputy Administrator Andy Slavitt said of the enrollment website, Healthcare.gov, before a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee.

“It’s a bumpy process at times, we have committed people but there will clearly be bumps," he added.

The hearing followed the Wednesday release of a Government Accountability Office report that highlighted management failures behind the botched rollout of the enrollment website, which led to $840 million in costs.

Slavitt said the next enrollment period will be a “vastly different situation” but didn’t rule out continued problems. He added, though, that the agency would be better equipped to handle problems during the next enrollment drive. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1oSog4s.


SCOTUS asked to settle O-Care subsidy split: The Supreme Court on Thursday was asked to decide whether some of the subsidies distributed under ObamaCare are illegal.

Lawyers petitioned the high court over last week’s decision in King v. Burwell, which found that the government has the power to distribute subsidies for health insurance in the federal exchange HealthCare.gov.

That ruling came just a few hours after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reached the opposite conclusion, finding in Halbig v. Burwell that the language of the healthcare law only allows the subsidies to be distributed in ObamaCare exchanges run by the states.

While attorneys representing the plaintiffs in both cases argue a strict reading of the Affordable Care Act specifies that only an “exchange established by the State” is eligible for subsidies, the Obama administration says that was not the intention of Congress.

If the high court were to side with the plaintiffs, an estimated 5 million people could lose subsidies to offset the cost of ObamaCare coverage. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1AEAVwS.


CDC issues Ebola travel warning: Federal health officials are warning travelers to avoid three West African countries where an Ebola outbreak is getting worse, a sign of the U.S. government's growing concern about the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a "Level 3" Warning on Thursday, the agency's most serious travel notice, telling people in the United States not to enter Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone unless absolutely necessary.

The CDC is not screening passengers traveling from the three countries at points of entry, it said, noting that Ebola is not contagious until symptoms appear. The virus has no treatment and a fatality rate of almost 100 percent.

The outbreak is believed to have begun in January, with initial cases reported for the first time in February.

The death toll rose to at least 729 on Thursday, even as additional cases brought the total number infected to more than 1,300, according to the World Health Organization. Read more here from The Hill’s Elise Viebeck: http://bit.ly/1m2GNX5.


AG recommends anti-overdose drug: The Justice Department introduced a new plan Thursday to fight back against a recent rise in heroin overdose deaths.

Attorney General Eric Holder is encouraging federal agents to begin carrying a drug known as naloxone, which is used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose and potentially save lives. Federal agents would administer the drug to overdose victims.

Holder is sending a memo to law enforcements agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, urging them to train agents who deal with heroin addicts to administer naloxone.

According to the Justice Department, 100 people in the U.S. die each day from drug overdoses, which is more than the number of people who die from gunshot wounds or car crashes. In fact, heroin overdoses are on the rise, increasing by 45 percent from 2006 to 2010.

Holder said more than 10,000 people's lives have been saved since 2001 because of naloxone. Read more here from The Hill’s Tim Devaney: http://bit.ly/1lgViGw.


State by state:

Emory Healthcare in Atlanta to treat Ebola patient: http://on-ajc.com/1uM2P9F

Houston whistleblower: Fix for ObamaCare needs to be fixed: http://bit.ly/1m2IXFV

Audit: NC Medicaid savings could be at risk: http://cbsloc.al/1xGY2Tf

Oregon Medicaid committee expected to tighten access to expensive hepatitis drug: http://bit.ly/1nXzJR2


Lobbying registration:

The Petrizzo Group, Inc./ Streamline Health, Inc.

CSA Strategies LLC/ Allegheny Health Network


Reading list:

Most states let Medicaid doc pay hikes lapse: http://bit.ly/1lgXfCV

Interest surges in Medicare bundled-payment initiative: http://bit.ly/1pul7XK

WHO, CDC See $100M surge for Africa Ebola battle: http://bloom.bg/1pHPOps


What you might have missed at The Hill:

California sees low ObamaCare rate increases for 2015: http://bit.ly/1oeSBFh

House lawmakers ask GAO to investigate federal lab safety: http://bit.ly/1pumiGv

FDA plans to regulate lab tests: http://bit.ly/1nP7rai

HHS announces new funds for mental health: http://bit.ly/XlwZSh

McConnell bill targets infant heroin addiction: http://bit.ly/1xH2q4H