Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers see progress on children’s health care bill | Five health-care fights facing Congress in December | VA centers failed to report potentially dangerous doctors


Congressional negotiators are making progress towards a bipartisan deal to reauthorize children’s health insurance and several other important health care programs, sources say.

Staff from the relevant committees in both parties and chambers met over the Thanksgiving break and are getting closer to an agreement, according to lobbyists and aides.

The package would include funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers, and an extension of a range of other expiring Medicare programs known as “extenders.” It could also include a bipartisan bill from the Senate Finance Committee known as the Chronic Care Act that seeks to make Medicare spending more efficient and save money.

The health-care package could be attached to either a short-term government spending bill in early December, or the longer-term government funding bill later in December. Advocates are pushing for it to be included in the earlier, short-term bill.

Negotiators have made progress on a bipartisan agreement to pay for the extension of CHIP and other programs, which has been the main obstacle so far. Staff declined to specify what, exactly, the new offsets would be.

The CHIP funding in particular has led to both parties accusing the other of holding up funds for children’s health care, in part, due to a dispute on how to pay for it.

Earlier this month, the House passed a bill to fund CHIP and community health centers largely on a party-line vote. The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill to reauthorize CHIP, but hasn’t released their plan for how to pay for it.

Read more here.


Five health-care fights facing Congress in December

December is shaping up to be an extremely busy month in Congress and health-care issues are at the top of Congress’s hefty December to-do list.

Republicans spent much of the year on a failed bid to repeal and replace ObamaCare. That’s left several programs and taxes hanging in the balance as the year draws to a close, in addition to the latest health-care drama thrust into the GOP tax-reform debate.

The biggest questions they will face include: Will Congress repeal the ObamaCare individual mandate? Will Congress reauthorize critical health programs it let lapse? Will Congress fund the opioid response? What will Congress do on ObamaCare taxes? Will Congress help Puerto Rico fund its Medicaid program?

Read more here.


Watchdog: VA centers failed to report potentially dangerous doctors

Five medical centers within the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to report eight potentially dangerous doctors to a national database where such information is collected, according to the results of a government investigation released Monday.

The Government Accountability Office found in its review of five VA medical centers that 148 providers were reviewed from October 2013 through March 2017 after concerns were raised about their conduct.

Of the nine medical providers who had actions taken against them or who resigned during the investigation, eight were not reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a national database that collects information about the professional conduct and competence of providers.

Read more here.


Groups make year-end push to delay ObamaCare taxes

Industry groups are gearing up for a final push to repeal or delay taxes in ObamaCare before the end of the year.

Stalling the taxes on medical devices and health insurance, which were included in the health-care law to help pay for its coverage expansion, has been a rare area of some bipartisan cooperation on ObamaCare. There are members of both parties who oppose the taxes and have previously come together to push them off.

But the previous delays are running out on Jan. 1. With the taxes looming, health insurers, medical device companies and others are pushing to make sure they aren’t hit.

Read more here.


Abortion providers brace for new funding fight

The Trump administration has a new opportunity to target the funding of Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions.

The Department of Health and Human Services Department (HHS) will soon set the terms for obtaining grants under Title X, a federally funded family planning program long reviled by conservatives.

Officials within HHS who have been critical of Title X in the past now have the opportunity to reshape the program to fit the anti-abortion views of the administration.  

Teresa Manning, the deputy assistant secretary of the office of population affairs at HHS, which oversees Title X, is a prominent anti-abortion advocate and a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee. That group led the charge for restrictions on the program under President Reagan.

Read more here.


Surge in ObamaCare signups surprises experts

The number of people signing up for ObamaCare has surged in the first few weeks of open enrollment this year, contrary to dire predictions.

The first ObamaCare open enrollment period of the Trump administration has been surprisingly robust, despite the uncertainty caused by nearly 10 months of repeal attempts in Congress, rising premiums and insurer exits.

Through the first 18 days, nearly 2.3 million people have signed up for insurance coverage through ObamaCare exchanges, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a number that has outpaced the same period under former President Barack Obama.

The spike in sign-ups is good news for supporters of the health-care law, but experts warn the early numbers don’t necessarily signify a trend. Final enrollment numbers could still be much lower than in the past, they say.

Read more here.


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From The Hill’s opinion pages

‘Certificate of need’ laws are certifiably necessary, by Malia Blom Hill from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii


What we’re reading

He raised drug prices at Eli Lilly. Can he lower them for the U.S.? (The New York Times)

The Trump administration is taking on drug prices — but not drug companies (The Washington Post)

Taken for a ride? Ambulances stick patients with surprise bills (Kaiser Health News)


State by state

Illinois Supreme Court health care ruling will cost city retirees (Chicago Sun-Times)

Minnesota dipping into own funds to keep kids’ health program running (Stateline)

Opioid use by South Carolina Medicaid recipients is down due to drug monitoring program, report says (Post and Courier)

Tags Barack Obama

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