From Politico

Conservative health care experiment leads to thousands losing coverage

December 30, 2018

Arkansas is throwing thousands of people off its Medicaid rolls each month for not complying with work requirements, blindsiding vulnerable residents panicked about losing their health coverage.

Views differ on the fairness of the unprecedented social experiment, but there’s unanimity here that it’s causing confusion. And that’s feeding a philosophical debate about whether low-income adults are ducking the work rules or just can’t navigate the tech-heavy reporting system that goes offline every night at 9 p.m.

Arkansas is throwing thousands of people off its Medicaid rolls each month for not complying with work requirements, blindsiding vulnerable residents panicked about losing their health coverage.

Views differ on the fairness of the unprecedented social experiment, but there’s unanimity here that it’s causing confusion. And that’s feeding a philosophical debate about whether low-income adults are ducking the work rules or just can’t navigate the tech-heavy reporting system that goes offline every night at 9 p.m.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended the program, saying it provides the help residents need to become independent. “These are not people that didn’t want to work,” he said in an interview. “It’s just they might not have had the training they needed, or they didn’t have a job opportunity and they needed additional assistance. And that’s what the objective is of the program.”

The state has removed more than 16,000 low-income adults for failing to log at least 80 hours of work, job training, volunteering or similar activity — including 4,655 in November….

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Red-state governor races could bring Medicaid expansion to millions

October 30, 2018

CONYERS, Ga. — Stacey Abrams paced the brightly lit pulpit of the Kingdom Builders Covenant Church on a cold, drizzly evening before Election Day, preaching the gospel of Medicaid expansion.

CONYERS, Ga. — Stacey Abrams paced the brightly lit pulpit of the Kingdom Builders Covenant Church on a cold, drizzly evening before Election Day, preaching the gospel of Medicaid expansion.

“When we help the least of these, we help everyone,” said the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, pointing her finger in the air as audience members swayed in their chairs, raised their hands and called out in assent. “Republicans are too mean and too cheap to take the money. But we know that health care is not a privilege in America. Health care is a right in America, and that is why I’m running.”…

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U.S. ‘turning the tide’ on the opioid crisis, health secretary says

October 23, 2018

The U.S. is “beginning to turn the tide” on the opioid epidemic, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday, pointing to new federal data showing a slight dip in overdose deaths last year.

Preliminary CDC data released last week shows drug overdose deaths, which spiked in 2017, dropped 2.8 percent toward the end of last year and the beginning of 2018. Azar credited federal, state and local efforts, one day before President Donald Trump will sign overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis.

The U.S. is “beginning to turn the tide” on the opioid epidemic, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday, pointing to new federal data showing a slight dip in overdose deaths last year.

Preliminary CDC data released last week shows drug overdose deaths, which spiked in 2017, dropped 2.8 percent toward the end of last year and the beginning of 2018. Azar credited federal, state and local efforts, one day before President Donald Trump will sign overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis.

“The seemingly relentless trend of rising overdose deaths seems to be finally bending in the right direction,” Azar said in prepared remarks at the Milken Institute’s health care conference in Washington, D.C…

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Why Congress is poised to give the drug industry a $4B windfall

October 2, 2018

President Donald Trump may rail against drug companies “getting away with murder,” but Congress appears to be moving in the opposite direction — helping to boost industry profits.

President Donald Trump may rail against drug companies “getting away with murder,” but Congress appears to be moving in the opposite direction — helping to boost industry profits.

While the pharmaceutical industry lost an eleventh-hour bid last week to attach a $4 billion windfall to Congress’ bipartisan opioid bill, lawmakers and industry analysts expect it to try again with good prospects of prevailing — perhaps as soon as the lame-duck session after the November election…

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Feds approve Cigna-Express Scripts mega-merger

September 17, 2018

Federal regulators on Monday have approved health insurer Cigna’s $52 billion acquisition of drug benefits manager Express Scripts, a mega deal that’s the latest evidence of health care giants bulking up, the companies said in an announcement Monday.

Federal regulators on Monday have approved health insurer Cigna’s $52 billion acquisition of drug benefits manager Express Scripts, a mega deal that’s the latest evidence of health care giants bulking up, the companies said in an announcement Monday.

The combination represents a major reshuffling of the health care industry as companies try to constrain costs and gird for the long-expected entrance of Amazon into the sector.

The Justice Department reportedly is also close to approving CVS Health’s blockbuster acquisition of Aetna, which would create one of the country’s biggest health care companies…

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