CARA Funding Amendment Fails in Senate

As debate continued on S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), in the Senate last week, Republicans rejected an amendment from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would have provided $600 million in emergency supplemental funding to bolster efforts against opioid drug abuse. The amendment failed on a procedural vote 48-47, with a 60-vote threshold required for passage. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) were the only Republicans to vote in favor of attaching the amendment. Republicans have argued that funding for these programs was included in the year end 2016 spending bill, and that more money can be added if necessary during this year’s appropriations process. CARA, introduced by Sen. Portman and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) would authorize grants to states, organizations and local entities for opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs. It would also increase access to drugs that counteract overdoses. The Senate will resume consideration of the bill today, with a cloture vote on the substitute amendment by Judiciary chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that Democrats will not block the bill over the lack of funding.

CDC Releases Report on Antibiotic Resistance in Hospitals

While hospitals are doing better in preventing health care associated infections, more work is needed to fight antibiotic resistant superbugs, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Antibiotic resistant bacteria are responsible for one out of seven infections caused in hospitals, and one out of four infections in long-term acute care hospitals. These catheter and surgery related infections can largely be attributed to seven superbugs: Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum β-lactamases), Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and multidrug resistant Acinetobacter. Progress, however, has been made in decreasing hospital-onset C. difficile infections by eight percent between 2011 and 2014. Additionally, there has been a 50 percent decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections and a 17 percent decrease in surgical site infections. The CDC calls on health care providers to work to prevent the spread of bacteria between patients, prevent infections related to surgery and/or placement of a catheter, and improve antibiotic use through stewardship. Alongside the report, the CDC released a new web app with interactive data on hospital acquired infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria, the Antibiotic Resistance Patient Safety Atlas.

CMS Reaches Quality Goal

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced last week that it has reached its goal of tying 30 percent of Medicare payments to value instead of volume. For the first time last year, the administration laid out its commitment to reach certain goals to link physician payment to quality rather than quantity. With 10 months remaining in 2016, $117 billion is now spent on value-based payments in the Medicare program. The administration’s next goal is tying 50 percent of payments to quality by 2018.

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