Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Key ObamaCare groups in limbo | Opioids sending thousands of kids into foster care | House passes bill allowing Medicaid to pay for opioid treatments

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A patient is shown signing up for ObamaCare insurance in this Nov. 22, 2017, file photo.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care. President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ending his policy of separating migrant children from their families at the border, a controversy which had dominated Washington.

On the health front, Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway finally named a CEO for their health care startup, and the Trump administration is already facing a lawsuit over its rule on association health plans. But first:


Local groups that help people sign up for ObamaCare and Medicaid have yet to hear from the Trump administration about their annual federal funding. That’s leaving many in limbo and fearing the grants could be too small or might not come at all.

“We really haven’t gotten any update or any deadline to submit applications or any knowledge at all about what the future is going to bring,” said Karen Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, one of the state’s larger health-care navigator programs.

Why it matters: Information about grants usually comes out in April or May, but the administration has made no announcements and did not provide comment to The Hill. Current grants run out in September.


There are also several changes in store for the navigator program this year, and navigators are worried about how it might impact them and consumers.

Read more here.



Migrant children being held in detention centers have been treated well, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Key quote: “We believe we are doing our best to care for these children extremely well,” Azar said during a health care event at The Washington Post.

He said children are receiving dental care, medical care, vision care, and are participating in athletics.

Azar said that under Trump’s new executive order, families will remain together in Department of Homeland Security detention centers, not in the HHS shelters that house unaccompanied minors.

Azar said he visited a detention facility, but wouldn’t disclose which one. “I think it’s not good that we’ve been having so much attention focused on them.”

Azar also said he thinks lawmakers who have actually toured the facilities, rather than just talking about them, “have been impressed by our grantees’ level of care and the quality services provided to these children.”


The opioid crisis is sending thousands of children into foster care.

The opioid epidemic ravaging states and cities across the country has sent a record number of children into foster and state care systems, taxing limited government resources and testing a system that is already at or near capacity.

An analysis of foster care systems around the country shows the number of children entering state or foster care rising sharply, especially in states hit hardest by opioid addiction. The children entering state care are younger, and they tend to stay in the system longer, than ever before.

What’s being done about it: States like Illinois, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Jersey are adopting new approaches to help keep parents and children together, even as parents are receiving treatment for their addictions.

We’ve got more on a new side to the opioid crisis here.


More on the opioid epidemic…

The House passed a bill allowing the Medicaid program to pay for opioid and cocaine addiction treatment in certain inpatient facilities, despite opposition from many Democrats.

Vote count: 261 to 155.

Specifically, the bill would provide greater access for five years to beds in certain inpatient treatment facilities for those on Medicaid and who have an opioid addiction. An amendment from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) expanded the legislation to include those with a cocaine addiction and was adopted by voice vote.

The current rule: A decades-old rule prevents Medicaid from paying for care at treatment facilities with more than 16 beds, known as the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The restriction was meant to prevent the warehousing of people with mental health disorders in large institutions.

Democrats argued the bill was to narrow and tie federal dollars to boosting community-based services. Republicans countered the rule is an outdated barrier to needed care.

Read more here. 

Rick Santorum presented his new ObamaCare repeal plan to GOP senators today.

A day after the new outline of a repeal plan was released, Santorum took his case to GOP senators at their lunch for a quick presentation.

But the plan still has no clear path forward and has little, if any, chance of passing this year.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposed some earlier GOP ObamaCare replacement bills last year as well, told The Hill Wednesday he thinks Santorum’s plan is a “terrible idea.”

“These Republicans ran on we’re repealing ObamaCare root and branch and they said that 1,000 times. So I told them at lunch I said how many of you guys campaigned on ‘let’s keep ObamaCare taxes and block grant it to the states.’ Nobody ran on that. It’s not what we’re for,” Paul said.   

More on the plan here.



President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs will get a Senate confirmation hearing June 27.

Robert Wilkie, who served as acting VA secretary until he stepped down after being nominated for secretary, is a Washington insider with years of administrative experience who has previously worked on Capitol Hill as well as in the Pentagon for two presidents.

More on his nomination here.


New York and Massachusetts will sue the Trump administration for expanding access to health plans that skirt ObamaCare requirements.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) argue the expansion of association health plans will “invite fraud, mismanagement and deception.”

“We will sue to safeguard the protections under the Affordable Care Act and ensure that all families and small businesses have access to quality, affordable health care,” the attorneys general said in a statement Wednesday.

Why it matters: It’s the first legal challenge to the administration’s rule expanding association health plans. If the judge sides with the two states, it would be a serious set back on one of Trump’s biggest priorities.

We have the details here.


Sponsored Content –Association of American Medical Colleges

While all doctors are trained to treat pain and addiction, specialists in these fields are critical to address this issue in urban and rural communities alike. The bipartisan “Opioid Workforce Act of 2018” would provide federal support to train more doctors in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, and pain management. We urge Congress to include this legislation in any final package to combat the opioid epidemic. www.aamc.org/opioidresponse


Health groups sue Virginia over decades-old abortion restrictions.

The providers, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Virginia, argue numerous Virginia laws restricting abortion violate a standard set by the Supreme Court in 2016.

Why it matters: The groups argue the laws violate a standard set by the Supreme Court in 2016 in Whole Woman’s Health V. Hellerstedt. A similar suit targeting abortion restrictions in Texas was filed last week, and it also hinges on the decision in that case. If the groups are successful in their suits, it could set off a wave in other states looking to eliminate abortion restrictions.

Read more here.


The Hill event:

Join us Tuesday, June 26 for “Mergers and Innovation: Measuring Performance and Patient Care,” featuring HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas). Topics of discussion include how the landscape of health care delivery in the United States is undergoing a dramatic shift, its implications for health care industry stakeholders and patients and also the role of Congress in ensuring all Americans have access to quality care. RSVP Here.


What we’re reading:

Immigrant children forcibly injected with drugs, lawsuit claims (Reveal)

The ‘Right to Try’ could cost dying patients a fortune (Bloomberg)

Medicaid strategy favored by Trump may make care less affordable, new studies indicate (Los Angeles Times)


State by state

Medica, whose Iowa insurance prices spiked 57 percent in 2018, plans less than a 5.6 percent increase for 2019 (Des Moines Register)

Massachusetts House passes health care bill to help community hospitals (masslive.com)


From The Hill’s opinion pages

My battle with Parkinson’s shows why federal funding for research matters

Here’s how Trump’s tax law is raising health insurance premiums

Tags Bill Cassidy Bobby Rush Donald Trump Gene Green Rand Paul

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