Health Brief: Trump Said to Support Expanded Addiction Treatment Access

Washington Brief

  • Senior White House advisers said President Donald Trump is supportive of expanding access to addiction treatment to help curb the opioid crisis. (Stat News)
  • Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans are putting the “finishing touches” on an effort to revive their legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (The Hill)
  • Trump signed legislation that temporarily extends a program that allows some veterans to seek health care in the private sector. (The Associated Press)

Business Brief

  • Without permission, cybersecurity startup Tanium used a California hospital’s network to demonstrate its software at hundreds of presentations, exposing private network information, server and computer names.  (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Health care providers in Indiana are overwhelmingly pleased with the conservative Medicaid reforms approved by Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of the state because they are paid better than standard Medicaid rates and they prefer it to no expansion at all. (Axios)
  • Verily, Alphabet Inc.’s life sciences business, is launching a four-year study with 10,000 participants to figure out how people transition from being healthy to becoming sick. (Reuters)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

CSIS hosts discussion on future of global health financing 2:30 p.m.
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Trump advisers call for expanded access to treatment in war on opioid addiction
Max Blau, Stat News

President Trump is determined to expand access to addiction treatment to help curb the opioid crisis, several of his top health advisers said on Wednesday. But they offered few details on how they would fund those efforts at a time when the administration is also pushing for deep budget cuts to domestic programs and seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which extends mental health and addiction treatment to millions.

Ryan: GOP putting ‘finishing touches’ on healthcare bill
Peter Sullivan, The Hill

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Republicans are putting the “finishing touches” on an effort to revive their ObamaCare replacement bill. “We’re in the midst of negotiating sort of, finishing touches because our members want to make sure that we lower premiums,” Ryan said Wednesday during a question-and-answer session during a trip to London.

Secretary Tom Price wants to fix US healthcare
Jen Christensen, CNN

While President Donald Trump insisted Congress repeal Obamacare within his first 100 days, the legislation was rushed, according to his Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price, and that’s why the Republicans failed. But the recent setback will not deter the Trump administration, he said during an interview at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Tuesday with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Dollar Drops as European Stocks Climb on Earnings: Markets Wrap
Adam Haigh and V Ramakrishnan, Bloomberg News

The dollar fell and stocks rose as strong corporate results in Europe helped offset investor nerves ahead of the looming start to French elections. The greenback slipped against most of its major peers.


Trump extends private-sector health care program for vets
Darlene Superville, The Associated Press

President Donald Trump signed a bill Wednesday to temporarily extend a program that lets some veterans seek medical care in the private sector, part of an effort by the president to deliver on a campaign promise. The extension will give Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin time to develop a more comprehensive plan to allow veterans to more easily go outside the VA health system for care.

Groups warn of rural health ‘crisis’ under ObamaCare repeal
Rachel Roubein, The Hill Extra

Rural areas would be hit particularly hard if Congress and the Trump administration don’t send clear signals that they’re committed to helping keep ObamaCare’s insurance marketplaces stable next year, advocates warn. Insurers are in the midst of deciding which ObamaCare markets to enter, and they need assurances that they won’t have to pay billions for out-of-pocket costs for certain low-income consumers.

Trump must decide whether to support or undermine Obamacare
Paige Winfield Cunningham, The Washington Post 

President Trump is pressuring Congress to sink parts of the Affordable Care Act. But now that the first attempt at a GOP health-care overhaul has failed, he must decide whether to throw the law a line.

Obamacare payments: Can’t we just skip to the end?
David Nather, Axios

It’s not that hard to figure out how the standoff over Obamacare payments to insurers is going to end: with a compromise. The betting in DC right now is something like this: Republicans agree to fund the payments for the Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies in the upcoming spending bill, but only for a year at a time, not permanently as Democrats want.

Stricter chargemaster regulations needed to rein in healthcare costs
Alex Kacik, Modern Healthcare

After a three-hour visit to the emergency room, a young girl left with a headache and a $4,875 bill. A Southern California hospital charged the girl and her family three times the fair and customary price for a CT scan — about $2,000 — to see if the girl’s fall caused head trauma, according to Lisa Berry Blackstock, a patient advocate the family hired to negotiate a lower fee.


Providers overwhelmingly back Pence’s Medicaid expansion
Bob Herman, Axios

Indiana’s conservative twist on Medicaid expansion — approved when Mike Pence was governor — has solid support among health care providers in the state. The two main reasons: It pays better than standard Medicaid rates, and they prefer it to no expansion at all, which would have left them on the hook for more charity care.

Some vets can go to CVS ‘MinuteClinics’ for minor illnesses
Hope Yen, The Associated Press

Some ailing veterans can now use their federal health care benefits at CVS “MinuteClinics” to treat minor illnesses and injuries, under a pilot program announced Tuesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The new program, currently limited to the Phoenix area, comes three years after the VA faced allegations of chronically long wait times at its centers, including its Phoenix facility, which treats about 120,000 veterans.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

Meet the lawyer trying to pry drug pricing secrets out of Big Pharma
Damian Garde, Stat News

He has a private jet, a pedigree of winning billion-dollar settlements, and the (sometimes grudging) respect of his adversaries. Now, he wants to become pharma’s latest headache.

Pfizer gets DOJ subpoenas amid saline antitrust investigation
Alex Kacik, Modern Healthcare

Pfizer has received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Justice Department as part of its antitrust investigation into the saline market, the company announced Wednesday. The DOJ is seeking documents regarding the manufacturing, selling, pricing and shortages of intravenous solutions, including saline, as well as Pfizer’s communication with competitors.

Health IT

Cybersecurity Startup Tanium Exposed California Hospital’s Network in Demos Without Permission
Rolfe Winkler, The Wall Street Journal

For years, cybersecurity startup Tanium Inc. pitched its software by showing it working in the network of a hospital it said was a client, according to people familiar with the matter and videos of the demonstrations. That and other efforts helped the company grow quickly, notching a valuation of $3.5 billion and a big investment from Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture firms.

Alphabet’s Verily unit launches study to track health data
Anya George Tharakan, Reuters

Verily, Alphabet Inc’s life sciences business, said it was launching a four-year study with about 10,000 participants to understand how people transition from being healthy to becoming sick, and to identify additional risk factors for diseases. Verily is partnering with Duke University and Stanford Medicine in the United States to enroll participants from varying backgrounds at sites in California and North Carolina within the next few months.

A Message from the College of American Pathologists:

Pathologists are physicians whose diagnoses drive care decisions made by patients, primary care physicians, and surgeons. Watch as Dr. Jiang navigates the high stakes of diagnosis.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Real Facts Needed in Drug Price Policy Debate
Robert Popovian, Morning Consult 

A common expression used when computing data is “garbage in, garbage out,” or GIGO. The term refers to the fact that computers operate logically; thus flawed or nonsensical input data produce nonsensical outputs or findings.

Donald Trump Threatens to Sabotage Obamacare
The Editorial Board, The New York Times

After Republican leaders in Congress failed to destroy the Affordable Care Act last month, President Trump tweeted that the law would “explode.” Now he seems determined to deliver on that prediction through presidential sabotage.

Why Trump’s dealmaking model doesn’t fit health care policy
Drew Altman, Axios

President Trump’s threat to withhold Affordable Care Act payments to insurers shows how he thinks of health care: Everything is negotiable, like it is in a real estate deal. In this case, it’s his bargaining chip to get Democrats to negotiate on an ACA replacement plan.

A Message from the College of American Pathologists:

Pathology is an integral part of surgery. Pathologists provide answers to key questions: Is a lesion benign or malignant? Has it spread? Is more testing needed?

Watch as Dr. Atkinson supports Kathy and her care team from biopsy to diagnosis.

Research Reports

Looking Backward And Forward: Assessing The CBO/JCT Analysis Of The AHCA
Steven Lieberman, Health Affairs 

The answer to President Donald Trump’s recent musing that “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated” is that the staffs of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) clearly knew. The proof is the detailed, 37-page analysis the CBO issued on March 13, 2017, estimating the spending, tax, and coverage changes associated with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) — the House Republicans’ proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).