In The News is a concise digest of health care news in Vermont and the nation. VMS is not responsible for the content of the articles.
VT DIGGER: Not dead shouldn’t be the end goal
The closure was supposed to be temporary. Within weeks, however, Vermont’s oldest residential drug rehab program had imploded, taking down an affiliated outpatient program and leaving recovering addicts in the lurch and state officials scrambling to pick up the pieces. Maple Leaf Treatment Center in Underhill was a crucial component of Vermont’s drug treatment system. Its 41 inpatient beds — in close proximity to Burlington — accounted for 30 percent of the beds statewide. Maple Leaf’s closure earlier this year coincided with reports that opiate overdose deaths in Vermont spiked by 38 percent in 2016, from a total of 75 to 104, according to Health Department figures. More »
VT DIGGER: Scott: Vermont Health Connect exit plan likely by year’s end
Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday his administration is working on a plan to move away from Vermont Health Connect, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. Scott would not give any details, but he said he hopes to propose an alternative before the 2018 legislative session. Vermont Health Connect serves about 200,000 people. The overwhelming majority use the system to sign up for Medicaid subsidies or direct benefits. About 30,000 people who don’t have employer insurance use the exchange to buy commercial health coverage. Scott said he thinks there are ways to make it easier for Medicaid customers to sign up. More »
VT DIGGER: Medical community split on easing of drug company gift ban
Some Vermont doctors are pushing back against a bill in the House that would scale back the state’s landmark law banning pharmaceutical companies from giving certain gifts to health care providers. The bill, S.45, would allow doctors and other providers to eat food paid for by pharmaceutical companies, as long as the food is offered to many people in the context of a large conference and is not advertising a specific drug or device. Currently, health care providers are prohibited from eating such food — or accepting virtually any gift from pharmaceutical companies other than drug samples or academic literature — because of a gift ban the Legislature passed in 2009 that was widely considered the toughest in the nation. More »
CONCORD MONITOR: New Hampshire Medicaid match among nation’s lowest
Now that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is off the table, New Hampshire and other states will get to keep their expanded Medicaid programs – at least for now. Even though that outcome is being welcomed by health care providers, the fact remains that New Hampshire’s current Medicaid reimbursement rates are some of the worst in the nation. More »
WASHINGTON POST: Are right-to-try laws a last hope for dying patients — or a false hope?
Back home, when Pence was Indiana’s governor, Jordan McLinn and his battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy had helped inspire passage of a state “right-to-try” law intended to give the desperately ill access to medications not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Thirty-three states have passed such laws, which ostensibly allow patients to take experimental medicines outside of clinical ¬trials and without FDA oversight as long as the therapies have undergone preliminary safety testing. Many of the remaining states are considering such bills or are expected to do so. And now, for the first time, federal legislation is gaining traction. More »
KAISER HEALTH NEWS: ‘Pre-Hospice’ Saves Money By Keeping People At Home Near The End Of Life
Most aging people would choose to stay home in their last years of life. But for many, it doesn’t work out: They go in and out of hospitals, getting treated for flare-ups of various chronic illnesses. It’s a massive problem that costs the health care system billions of dollars and has galvanized health providers, hospital administrators and policymakers to search for solutions. Sharp HealthCare, the San Diego health system where Chinchar receives care, has devised a way to fulfill his wishes and reduce costs at the same time. It’s a pre-hospice program called Transitions, designed to give elderly patients the care they want at home and keep them out of the hospital. More »