Shaheen Pushes for Funding Increase to Combat Heroin and Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has proposed $600 million in emergency supplemental funding for health care and law enforcement expenses associated with addressing the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic. Some of this funding would be allocated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help states track and reduce prescription drug abuse. Sen. Shaheen also sent a letter to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Mathews Burwell seeking administrative support for the increased funding proposal. The budget deal reached earlier this year included increased flexibility for Appropriations committees to assemble and pass spending bills by December 11 in order to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Speaker Ryan Convenes

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has convened an informal “kitchen cabinet” to act as a sounding board for feedback on proposed fiscal priorities and potentially contentious issues facing the House Republican caucus. The eight regular members of the advisory group include Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Robert J. Dold (R-Ill.), representing the Tuesday Group, Bill Flores (R-Texas), chairman of the Republican Study Committee and Committee member Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Budget Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.), Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.). The group will likely weigh in on the fiscal year 2016 omnibus spending bill and the year-end package of tax break extensions.

CDC Makes Recommendations on HIV Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that people at high risk for HIV should use a therapy known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the form of Truvada, a daily pill. The therapy makes it more difficult for a virus to result in a permanent infection. The CDC notes that as of this year, 34 percent of primary care doctors and nurses had never heard of PrEP, and conclude that if more health care providers knew about and prescribed PrEH, more HIV infections could be prevented and chances of passing the virus to others could be reduced.

Urban Institute Counters Evidence of Premium Increases

Research conducted by the Urban Institute indicates that predictions of significant premium increases for consumers in the health insurance marketplace may have been overestimated. The report examined the final approved rates for 2016 and found a 4.3 percent increase in the average premium of the lowest-cost silver plan across 20 states and the District of Columbia last year. The Urban Institute found that the average premium in these plans increased by less than 5 percent in five states. In another five states, premiums increased between 5 and 10 percent, and increased by more than 10 percent in four states. And in six states plus the District of Columbia, the average premium of the lowest-cost silver plan actually decreased. The authors of the study conclude that some insurers may have priced aggressively in order to gain market share, before modifying that strategy this year. The researchers believe that it may take several more years before insurance risk pools and premium rates begin to stabilize.

Increase in Cervical Cancer Detection Linked to ACA

The substantial increase in the diagnosis of early stage cervical cancer in women under the age of 26 may be an effect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to research from the American Cancer Society. The 2010 health care law allows dependents to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of uninsured young adults. Researchers using the National Cancer Data Base, a hospital-based registry that includes approximately 70 percent of all cancer cases in the country, found that early-stage diagnoses rose substantially among women aged 21 to 25 after the ACA provision went into affect. Between 2011-2012, 79 percent of women in this age group had an early-stage diagnosis, up from 71 percent in 2007-2009.

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