Health Care Update: May, 2018

By Beverly George
ACE Leader

 

Buried in the Stormy Daniels-Trump scandal, the Mueller investigation, the North and South Korea meeting, and so much more, health care and health-related stories are nevertheless making the news.

A Win for Medicaid Advocates

From Vox, I read the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma told Kansas officials her agency would not approve the state’s request to impose lifetime limits of three years on Medicaid patients. Verma did say the Trump administration had approved other states’ proposals to cut off Medicaid if the recipients failed to meet the work requirement.

The Republicans proselytize their belief that by forcing patients to contribute to their health care in some way or prove their qualifications for assistance, they will appreciate it more, feel they’re contributing to the system, and be more directed toward living healthier lives. But Verma’s response to Kansas officials indicated that cutting off a person’s Medicaid solely because of the length of time they had been enrolled would not meet that standard, and Vox reports this as “a big deal” and a win for Medicaid advocates. At least for now, the Republicans do not want to shrink the program to the point of a culling-the-herd approach.

What’s Concealed in the Farm Bill?

The NEA Insider from the National Education Association warns to beware of the Farm Bill (H.R 2), which will arrive for mark up as early as this week. The Farm Bill includes big changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), our country’s largest program to fight hunger. SNAP provides food to one in five U.S. children, and H.R. 2 could remove up to 265,000 students from the program. Hungry students struggle to learn, and hunger can slow brain development. This would be a good time to contact your representative and senator.

‘Just Say No’ Abstinence Program

A New York Times editorial on May 6th caught my eye with its title, “The New Era of Abstinence.” The Department of Health and Human Services is quietly promoting an “anti-science, ideological agenda.” Last year, the department prematurely ended some grants to teen pregnancy programs claiming they weren’t effective, and they are resetting the grant rules to favor programs with emphasis on abstinence only. In reality, however, data collected for several years shows over and over that teaching teens about a variety of contraception methods has been accompanied by a drastic decrease in unwanted teen pregnancy.

The administration also plans to move Title X Family Planning funds to programs with a “just say no,” abstinence-only approach, or to the unreliable rhythm method of birth control, for single, adult, poor women.

Whether aimed at teens or adults, abstinence-only programs are full of disinformation and misinformation and preposterous unscientific claims. The results of such programs include unwanted pregnancy and a proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases.

Protection from Junk Plans

At the local level, Illinois is trying to pass SB 2388 SFA1, the Short-Term Limited Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act. This law is designed to protect Illinoisans from short-term insurance plans that offer inconsistent coverage and disrupt the health insurance market. These junk plans do not follow protections built into the ACA, like mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions. The proposed SB 2388 SFA1 would protect consumers from these plans by prohibiting them in the state.

Some Red States to Expand Medicaid?

As the 2018 midterm elections draw closer, it is interesting to note that traditionally red states, such as Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho, are trying to put Medicaid expansion on their ballots. With the opioid epidemic, people will rely on Medicaid to provide the programs to help address this crisis, in addition to all the other necessary services it provides to patients.

 


ACE Leader Beverly George also is a member of Indivisible, the Naperville League of Women Voters, and the Citizens Climate Lobby. She also volunteers with her parish PADS group. A former chemist, George worked in clinical chemistry and hematology research at the Centers for Disease Control for six years and taught chemistry and freshman science at Naperville North High School for 20 years.