POLICY BRIEFINGS


HHS Releases Report on Patient Safety Efforts


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released a report detailing patient safety improvements nationwide. According to the report, hospital-acquired conditions have dropped 21 percent since 2010. This translates to 125,000 fewer patient deaths and cost savings of $28 billion. Hospital-acquired conditions are developed when a patient is in the hospital being treated for something else. They include conditions such as adverse drug events, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line associated bloodstream infections, pressure ulcers and surgical site infections. The National Scorecard on Rates of Hospital-Acquired Conditions is compiled annually by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).


McConnell: ACA Repeal, and then Replace


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Republicans plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through reconciliation early next year, before a replacement system is implemented. He also stated that repeal would include a transition period so as not to disrupt marketplace enrollees’ health coverage, but did not specify the length of time GOP lawmakers are considering for the transition. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) convened the GOP members of his committee last week for a two-day policy discussion on tax and health care in the 115th Congress. He explained that lawmakers hope to be ready with an ACA replacement plan early in the year. Brady also said that his committee plans to be ready with a tax reform policy that could be moved quickly in the next Congress through reconciliation instructions in the fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget resolution.


Republicans Seek Comments from Governors on Medicaid


Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee have written to Republican governors requesting input on future changes to the Medicaid program. The letter was sent in preparation for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The 2010 health care law allowed states to expand their health care program for low-income Americans. “We are acutely aware that in dismantling the ACA we have a responsibility for ensuring that Medicaid continues to provide quality care for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” the lawmakers write. They explain that they will convene a roundtable of governors in January 2017 to start a dialog about the future of the Medicaid program, and outline questions for the governors to consider prior to the meeting. They are interested in learning about how to provide states with flexibility to innovate and operate their Medicaid programs in a fiscally responsible way, and how to foster a more valuable partnership between states and the federal government. They also ask about addressing the needs of those who obtained Medicaid coverage through the ACA, and what changes should be considered as part of an ACA replacement plan.


Republicans Seek Comments from Governors on Medicaid


Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee have written to Republican governors requesting input on future changes to the Medicaid program. The letter was sent in preparation for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The 2010 health care law allowed states to expand their health care program for low-income Americans. “We are acutely aware that in dismantling the ACA we have a responsibility for ensuring that Medicaid continues to provide quality care for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” the lawmakers write. They explain that they will convene a roundtable of governors in January 2017 to start a dialog about the future of the Medicaid program, and outline questions for the governors to consider prior to the meeting. They are interested in learning about how to provide states with flexibility to innovate and operate their Medicaid programs in a fiscally responsible way, and how to foster a more valuable partnership between states and the federal government. They also ask about addressing the needs of those who obtained Medicaid coverage through the ACA, and what changes should be considered as part of an ACA replacement plan.


New Zika Data Research Released


According to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), six percent of U.S. pregnancies with Zika infection were linked to birth defects. Of the 442 completed pregnancies reviewed, 26 fetuses and infants had birth defects, such as severe brain damage, linked to the Zika virus. The study is the first estimate of the number of children affected by Zika born to mothers infected with the virus. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the total of Zika-infected pregnant women in the United States and its territories at 3,800. Because the virus is asymptomatic in many adults, this number may actually be much higher. The CDC has also released new findings, which show that Zika may continue to worsen after birth in the fetal brain and can also persist in the mother’s placenta.



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