Overnight Health Care: Trump calls for crackdown on surprise medical bills | Trump officials give religious exemption to foster care program | Uninsured rate at highest level since 2014 | Juul hires former Harry Reid chief of staff
Overnight Health Care: US health-care spending hit $3.5 trillion in 2017 | White House sought $190M more to house migrant children | ObamaCare enrollment down 10 percent from last year
Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.
The growth in health spending in the U.S. has slowed. Also today, a top House Democratic appropriator says the White House wanted millions of dollars more to fund detention facilities for migrant kids and ObamaCare enrollment is down.
We'll start with health spending:
US health-care spending topped $10,739 per person in 2017: report
National spending on health care reached $3.5 trillion in 2017, or about $10,739 per person, according to new data released Thursday by the Trump administration.
Overall, health spending grew at a rate of 3.9 percent last year, after increasing by 4.8 percent in 2016 and 5.8 percent in 2015.
It's the slowest increase in spending since 2013, before most parts of the Affordable Care Act took effect, including the expansion of Medicaid to more low-income adults.
The slowdown in growth primarily affected hospitals, physician and clinical services and prescription drugs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said, as people used fewer goods and services.
But, health care is still expensive:
- Spending on hospital care reached $1.1 trillion, representing 33 percent of all health-care spending
- Spending on physician and clinical services increased 4.2 percent to $694.3 million in 2017, representing 20 percent of all health-care spending.
- Spending on prescription drugs reached $333.4 billion, representing 10 percent of all health spending.
- Spending in the private health insurance market topped $1.2 trillion in 2017, making up 34 percent of all health-care spending.
White House requested an additional $190M for housing detained migrant children, Dem lawmaker says
The Trump administration has asked for an additional $190 million to operate immigrant detention facilities, according to a top House Democratic appropriator.
"The White House has had the audacity to ask Congress for more money, even though we are done" with appropriations for the year, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told reporters on a conference call Thursday. "Over my dead body will we provide another nickel for these folks to do what they're doing."
DeLauro is currently the ranking member, and set to become head of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), starting in January.
During the call with reporters, she pledged to hold the administration accountable for how much money it has spent on detaining migrants and their children.
HHS referred questions to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which did not respond to a request for comment.
Closing a controversial facility: DeLauro and California Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard, who is the ranking member of the Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee, are also calling on the administration to close the temporary detention facility in Tornillo, Texas.
The controversial facility, located outside of El Paso, houses more than 2,000 migrant children. The lawmakers said they were concerned by a recent report from HHS's inspector general showing the facility waived rigorous background checks for staff that could have detected a history of child abuse.
Also on the subject of migrant children...
House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Thursday asking for answers on the ongoing family separation crisis. Pallone said recent reports raise new questions about the Trump administration's efforts to adequately track, care for, and reunite children in its custody.
Pallone asked for a briefing from administration officials, and said he hasn't received satisfactory answers from previous letters.
ObamaCare enrollment down 10 percent from last year with one week to go in sign up period
Enrollment in ObamaCare plans is down by 11 percent compared to last year, according to new sign up numbers released by the Trump administration.
In the first five weeks of this year's sign up period, about 3.2 million people have signed up for ObamaCare plans, compared to the 3.6 million who had signed up by this point last year.
That's a decrease of more than 406,000, or 11 percent.
In week five alone, which ran from Nov. 25 through Dec. 1, 773,000 people signed up for ObamaCare plans. In week five of last year's sign up period, 823,000 people signed up for coverage.
There is only one week left of the open enrollment period, which ends Dec. 15.
Why the drop: Health insurance experts point to a number of possibilities, ranging from the funding cuts the Trump administration made to advertising and outreach to the elimination of the individual mandate penalty. Lower unemployment and the administration's expansion of short-term plans that don't comply with ObamaCare requirements could also be a factor affecting enrollment.
CDC: 58M Americans exposed to secondhand smoke
Progress in recent years at reducing secondhand smoke exposure has slowed, and an estimated 58 million American nonsmokers are still exposed to secondhand smoke from others' burning tobacco products, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The data was gathered from 2013 to 2014. The agency said the lack of a continued decline could be attributed to the slowed adoption of comprehensive smoke-free laws in all workplaces, restaurants and bars at the state and local levels.
According to the CDC, 27 states and the District of Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws, but adoption of such laws has slowed in recent years.
"We know there's no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure," CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement. "These findings reveal that there is still much more to do to protect everyone -- especially children -- from this completely preventable health hazard."
Maine judge denies GOP governor's request to stay Medicaid expansion order
Medicaid expansion is slowly but surely getting closer in Maine.
A judge there on Thursday denied a request by the outgoing GOP governor to stay an order that the state implement Medicaid expansion.
The order from Justice Michaela Murphy is another loss in court for Gov. Paul LePage (R), who has for months refused to implement Medicaid expansion in the state despite its voters approving the expansion in a ballot initiative last year.
But it might be moot anyway: Democratic Governor-elect Janet Mills will be taking over next month, and she has promised to implement the Medicaid expansion.
From advocates for expansion: Robyn Merrill of Maine Equal Justice Partners called it "good news" and noted a delay in the deadline for enrollment to Feb. 1 will allow the new Democratic administration to oversee it.
What we're reading
Why is ObamaCare enrollment down? (The New York Times)
Congress to drug makers: Why stock buybacks over lowered drug prices? (The Wall Street Journal)
Drug spending stays almost flat under Trump (Washington Examiner)
State by state
'It's a mess': Kentucky Medicaid unclear on 'medically fragile' meaning (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Iowa let major Medicaid provider keep $2.4M in overpayments (Associated Press)
From The Hill's opinion page