American Healthcare at the Mercy of Congressional Funding

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Photo by Carol Duff

Health Editor’s Note: Healthcare issues concern all Americans and should be at the top of any governmental list for spending.  After much gnashing of political teeth, CHIP has funding for another 10 years. Republicans did what they could to stop funding. 

Medicare outpatient therapy payments have had their cap removed.  With the intense work to get a patient out of the hospital as soon as possible (maybe when the patient should still have around the clock observation and care) there was not going to be a good outcome for limiting Medicare outpatient therapy payments. 

Health can not be the low rung on the Congressional funding ladder. Healthcare should not be subjected to ebbs and tides of funding withdrawal, but should be reliable and constant to those who need it. 

Why should someone who has been deemed terminally ill have to wait to be given a drug/treatment that has not been given full approval by the FDA?  The FDA can waste years testing while people could be getting a potential cure.  A terminally ill person has nothing to lose and everything to gain by being allowed to make his or her own decision about going all out for a chance to save his or her life……Carol 

D.C. Week: Congress Passes Spending Bill

Novel 3-Drug combo for HIV gains FDA approval

by Shannon Firth, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today

WASHINGTON — Just before dawn on Friday, Congress passed another short-term spending bill that addresses several significant healthcare issues, such as the opioid crisis and keeping community health centers running, and it keeps the government open until late March.

Congress Passes Short-Term Spending Bill

Congress passed a stopgap spending bill early Friday that included 10 years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and $7.8 billion for community health centers (CHCs), and permanently removed a cap on Medicare outpatient therapy payments.

The measure passed by a vote of 71-28 in the Senate and 240-186 in the House; President Trump has signed it.

The bill, which will keep the government open through March 23, also includes funding for assisting victims of national disaster in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an unpopular feature of the Affordable Care Act. It also extends CHIP for 10 years, up from the 6-year extension the program received in the previous short-term spending bill.

The CHIP extension is “just remarkable providing unprecedented security and certainty for the families that depend on CHIP, and the state governments that need more predictability to map out their own expenditures,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Top Democrat Blasts GOP on Healthcare

Saying congressional Republicans have made “concerted efforts” to be “deeply disruptive” towards American healthcare, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) ripped GOP leadership during a speech here Tuesday.

Lawmakers from both parties need to “reach across the aisle” to address healthcare, he declared.

Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House since 2011 and House Majority Leader from 2007-2011, spoke at the AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference for 20 minutes in a hastily-scheduled session that organizers had squeezed into the program only the day before. He rarely looked down at his notes as he addressed a packed hotel ballroom, seeming less like a politician and more like a man who had something to get off his chest.

“What America’s healthcare system needs is stability,” Hoyer said, hammering on staple Democratic themes regarding Republican efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the “dangerous instability” that has resulted.

More Help Needed With Opioid Crisis, Senators Told

Congress has made strides in helping battle the opioid abuse epidemic, but much more needs to be done, witnesses told a Senate committee on Thursday.

“The opioid epidemic is taking a terrible toll on pregnant women and infants,” Stephen Patrick MD, MPH, a neonatologist at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., said at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on the effect of the opioid crisis on children and families. “Every day, people are dying. Pregnant women are not getting the treatment they need and infants are spending their first few weeks in withdrawal … These are our brothers and sisters and they need our help.”

Legislation passed by Congress, including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the 21st Century Cures Act, and the Protecting Our Infants Act “moved forward important public health priorities but would benefit from additional [reinforcement],” Patrick said. For example, “The Protecting our Infants Act resulted in a comprehensive strategy document from SAMHSA [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration], but as [SAMHSA] notes, implementation is dependent on funding.”

Pressure Rises for Right-to-Try Bill

Earlier this week, two Republican congressmen sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urging them to bring a “right-to-try” bill to a vote in the House as soon as possible.

The bill, called the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act, passed in the Senate last August.

It would allow individuals with life-threatening illnesses to obtain experimental drugs prior to FDA approval. However, the law does not require drug companies to make their products available, and the FDA already has a pathway to allow such access. Industry in general has not sought changes to that pathway. Nevertheless, some in Congress are unsatisfied with the FDA’s policies and implementation and are seeking to loosen the reins.

“The fundamental purpose of the Right to Try Act is very simple: it merely allows terminally ill patients who have exhausted all other options to try medications that have passed basic Food and Drug Administration safety protocols but not completed the full, multi-year approval process. This bill safeguards any pharmaceutical company that may wish to participate in Right to Try, but it in no way requires participation to begin with,” wrote Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) in a letter signed by 40 other members and sent to House leadership on Monday.

New 3-Drug Combo for HIV OK’d

A new three-drug combination pill for HIV-1 infection won FDA approval late Wednesday, said manufacturer Gilead Sciences.

To be sold as Biktarvy, the product includes the integrase inhibitor bictegravir and two reverse transcriptase inhibitors, emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide. It is approved for once-daily oral administration, with no food intake requirement, baseline viral load, or CD4+ cell count restrictions, Gilead said.

9 COMMENTS

  1. wjabbe: Also like to note that Secret Energy is just an open source web page. We aren’t trying to treat anything. As for me, I just know what I’m talking about. Death Care is Death Care. Plants do actually cure everything and any good doctor will tell you that.

  2. wjabbe: By not having that legal jargon, well, thats a good way to get shut down. Considering all the people that have been killed or maimed by main stream treatments I’d say we are quite a bit different than the FDA. That entire law is a control mechanism to keep people from things that will actually help, and instead keep you in the pockets of the medical cartel. Secret Energy is an open source information web site and it will always be that way. You really have asked a pretty stupid question here because we have products and information that can help people infinitely more than the medical cartel can. As for my own knowledge base, which actually extends further than what you can find on Secret Energy, I’m no dummy. Anyone with an internet connection and can read and listen to doctors can find out what is wrong with our death care system.

  3. I’m sorry, but I just have no faith whatever in modern synthetic medicine. Using synthetics is a dead end street. The money wasted on trying to simulate natural compounds is only for raping the public at large. When the medical community finally decides to actually try to heal and not kill or maim, it will be because they are forced to. The legalization of marijuana will be seen as a seminal point in time, a beginning of the end of synthetic for -profit poison. Just my experience with cinnamon and vitamin C has been enough to open my eyes. I will be growing my own soon and will be experimenting with medicinal MJ. As for the FDA…don’t even get me started.

  4. I really appreciate the Health addition to VT – It is a more personal part of website that focus’s on our health today and some better ideas and input to keep healthier while the rest of the world blows itself up. Thank You Carol Duff. I can only imagine the breakthroughs of modern medicine advancements if Big Pharma/Big Corporations were either focussed on or lawfully made to honestly research cures instead of treatments.

    • Garry Compton, Thank you for noticing that I am trying to keep the VT group apprised of what can go wrong and right with their health. Nurses have the capacity to explain and teach and watch out for others, especially those in their immediate care, which to me is the VT group. I offer realistic explanations, hints, maybe short-cuts and a heads up to cut through medical red tape. If your doctor/healthcare provider does not offer you a forum in which you can ask questions, share ideas, or will give you the option to seek a second/third opinion…then it is time to fine another who will. Taking care of your health is a team effort, with you knowing as much as possible so you can ask questions and make your own decisions. I do not find fault with the expressions of others, but I will also not condone quackery at any cost. Your money, your choice………get your money and health’s worth. Carol

  5. Alex Cushing: I skimmed a small part of secretenergy. I skimmed the “terms of service” part obviously written by lawyers at a very high cost to someone in charge. However that “someone” is never mentioned by name or details about him or her. It does give an address but omits the fact that it is in California although the zip code gives it away:
    “SECTION 18 – GOVERNING LAW
    These Terms of Service and any separate agreements whereby we provide you Services shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of 1240 South Diamond Bar Blvd Diamond Bar US 91765.” In other words this is the office of the owner or director or whatever of this organization which sells goods for money. One reading might think Diamond Bar is in Africa. But it is in California near Pamona East of Pasadena. These terms of service basically deny any responsibility or liability for anything. Statements are made no one there is an expert in health but you give health advice. Etc. Why should one take anything you say or sell seriously when there is no concomitant responsibility with names and qualifications instead of disclaimers by lawyers? I agree with some of your comments. I agree with some of Nurse Duff’s comments but disagree with others. However, she is fully identified, her excellent qualifications are fully disclosed, and regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with her recommendations, they are based on others who are “experts”, not anonymous cowards hiding behind ..

    • hiding behind the veil of anonymity. The FDA is very strict on enforcing labeling of foods or vitamins or anything ingested in the human body. Obviously you site does not comply with those rules. Isn’t that the reason for the fancy lawyer jargon in the terms of service? Why would one take anything anyone says seriously on your site? Is your site really, at bottom, any different than the government alphabet agencies you criticize?
      Winfield J. Abbe, A.A. Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA, 1958, A.B., Physics, UC Berkeley, 1961, M.S., Physics, California State University at Los Angeles, Ph.D., Physics, UC Riverside, 1966, Institute of Science and Technology Fellow, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1966-1967, Faculty Member with lifetime tenure, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 1966-1978; voluntarily resigned due mainly lying and cheating by two deans and three department heads to the tenured faculty for over five years. Awards for superior or outstanding achievement in mathematics, physics and chemistry. Areas of research expertise: Low temperature experimental solid state physics, high energy theoretical elementary particle physics. First prize in contest for best scientific explanation of how the dunking bird works, Pasadena Star News, 1959 awarded by Harper Frantz, Ph.D., Chemistry, UC Berkeley. Research supervisors Earl Jacobs, Ph.D., Peter Kaus, Ph. D. and Marc Ross, Ph.D. all in physics.

  6. Healthcare in America will remain inaccessible and overpriced UNTIL all members of Congress step outside of their “Healthcare Bubble”.

    Make them and their families buy and use the very SAME medical services they expect their constituents to use WITH THEIR OWN MONEY.

    Only then will Healthcare in America be improved.

    Pass a law taking away free health care for Congress, or expect a long, and
    ultimately futile battle.

    Good Ed. notes, Carol. One point, though. Knowing the lack of morals historically displayed by Big Pharma, there is a fear for potential abuse.

    Instead of experimental drugs to cure terminal disease, patients might be used as guinea pigs for nefarious purposes.

    “They are going to die anyway, so when they die from an overdose of this new experimental truth serum, we can easily cover it up”… Might be one scenario…

    I wouldn’t put it past them.

    • Johnny America,
      I vote for free healthcare for Congress to be eradicated. All and any part of it. Let them get their healthcare the way their constituents do. I also vote for no lobbying allowed. I also vote for big pharma to only make 10% on a drug….and after the research has been paid for…..5%. When you hold the key to someone’s health, it is your duty to make sure that person can receive that key without having to choose whether to eat or buy that drug. I see your point on the Right to Try Bill…..but, if you truly have a diagnosis and second opinion that you are dying anyway, it can be your decision as to whether to grab for that gold ring because all else is lost. With the way lawsuits can be brought against evil doers (although the person involved will long be dead) a message that their immoral crap will not be tolerated may, and this is just a hope, stop further dastardly actions on the part of big pharma. Just my opinion….Carol

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