White House Dismisses Surgeon General

The President asked the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, appointed by former President Obama, to resign. On Friday, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, who previously served as deputy Surgeon General, was named Acting Surgeon General. Trent-Adams is a former nurse officer in the Army and has also served as a research nurse at the University of Maryland. She joined the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service in 1992 and served as the deputy associate administrator for the HIV/AIDS bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) before joining the surgeon general’s office. Dr. Murthy had served as surgeon general since 2014. During this time, he released the office’s first comprehensive report on addiction in America.

Policymakers Inquire About Status of Influenza Plan

Lawmakers have written to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting information about the status of the department’s Pandemic Influenza Plan. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) penned the letter stressing the need for the updated Pandemic Influenza Plan, which was slated to be released late last year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the H7N9 avian influenza virus that emerged in 2013 has caused 918 laboratoryconfirmed human infections, and 359 deaths.

GAO Releases Report on Medicaid Fraud

A recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) needs to more closely collaborate with states in order to reduce Medicaid fraud. The report finds that the agency lacks a systematic approach to collecting and communicating information about state practices. The GAO has designated Medicaid as high risk for fraud, abuse, and mismanagement for the last 14 years.

Administration Continues Focus on Opioid Epidemic

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week that the first round of grants to assist states and territories in combating the opioid epidemic will be released. The grants to all 50 states will total $485 million, and will be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grants are a product of the 21st Century Cures Act, and will be used to prevent opioid abuse and provide treatment to those affected by addiction. Also last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced plans to launch an ad campaign to raise awareness about the danger of opioid addiction. The goal of the campaign is to make doctors and patients more knowledgeable about the opioid crisis, and to help them understand the risks associated with opioids so they can be discussed before any problems arise. At the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency announced that it will convene stakeholders for a public workshop in May on how to best train health care professionals about pain management and the safe prescribing of opioids. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the CDC, the Department of Defense (DoD), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the National Institute on Drug Abuse, SAMHSA, and the Indian Health Service (IHS) will also participate in the workshop.

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