New Report Shows Continued Declines in CHIP Enrollment

A new report from Georgetown University researchers shows that total Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) enrollment fell by more than two percent last year, amounting to 828,000 fewer children being covered by public health insurance programs in 2018 compared to the previous year. The decline follows a steady reduction in enrollment that the researchers characterize as an “alarming trend.” While the report, which draws on data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), clarifies that there is a lack of data specifying the reasons for disenrollment that could lead to losses in coverage, it argues that there is little evidence to suggest that a strong economy and low-income families gaining employer-sponsored insurance are entirely responsible for the enrollment decline. Instead, the researchers conclude that reduced funding for outreach and consumer assistance and changes to immigration policies could be impacting decisions by potential enrollees to join the programs. The report also points to more administrative barriers for enrollees to navigate given the increased usage of work requirements and income reviews. Declines in enrollment were especially significant in California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.

Durbin Urges Action on Juul Labs and E-Cigarette Usage

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Democratic Whip, has called on Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Ned Sharpless to act immediately to reduce the use of e-cigarettes among children. Durbin expressed disappointment with Sharpless following a meeting with the FDA leader earlier this month, and states that Sharpless would not commit to take action until 2021 to address Juul’s claim that its e-cigarette products are smoking cessation devices. Sen. Durbin also urges the agency to remove kid-friendly e-cigarette flavors from the market.

HHS Task Force Recommends Careful Use of PDMPs

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) task force has recommended that state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) should not be used to stop a patient’s opioid prescription without appropriate consultations. The 29-member Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force, which is comprised of both federal officials and specialists, warned that PDMPs may contain errors. Their report emphasizes the importance of individualized, patient-centered care in the diagnosis and treatment of pain.

Upcoming Congressional Hearings and Markups

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing on health care extenders “Investing in America’s Health Care;” 10:00 a.m., 2123 Rayburn Bldg.; June 4

House Ways and Means Committee members’ day hearing; 10:00 a.m.; 1100 Longworth Bldg.; June 4

Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Development hearing to examine confronting threats from China, focusing on assessing controls on technology and investment and measures to combat opioid trafficking; 10:00 a.m., 538 Dirksen Bldg.; June 4

Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing “The Countdown: Fentanyl Analogues and the Expiring Emergency Scheduling Order; 10:00 a.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.; June 4

House Appropriations Committee markup of FY2020 Transportation, Housing, Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill and FY2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, and Report on the Further Revised Suballocation of Budget Allocations for FY2020; 10:30 a.m., 2359 Rayburn Bldg.; June 4

House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization hearing “Modernizing Health Records for Servicemembers and Veterans: The Contractor Perspective;” 2:00 p.m., 210 Capitol Bldg.; June 4

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations hearing “Eradicating Ebola: Building on Lessons Learned and Medical Advancements;” 2:00 p.m., place TBD; June 4

Senate Finance Committee hearing “Foreign Threats to Taxpayer – Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions;” 9:45 a.m., 215 Dirksen Bldg.; June 5

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property hearing to examine the state of patent eligibility in America; 2:30 p.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.; June 5

Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing “Your Doctor/Pharmacist/Insurer Will See You Now: Competitive Implications of Vertical Consolidation in the Healthcare Industry;” 2:30 p.m., 226 Dirksen Bldg.; June 12

Recently Introduced Health Legislation

H.R.3021 — To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to restructure the payment adjustment for non-emergency ESRD ambulance transports under the Medicare program; Sponsor: Rep. LaHood, Darin [R-IL-18]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means

H.R.3022 — To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to repeal the reductions in Medicaid DSH allotments, and for other purposes; Sponsor: Rep. Engel, Eliot L. [D-NY-16]; Committees: House - Energy and Commerce

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