KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Pioneer Or ‘Embarrassment’: Psychiatrist Eyed For Top Mental Health Post Gets Mixed Reviews

Michael Welner is the leading contender for a position at the Department of Health and Human Services that was created as part of the 21st Century Cures Act in response to the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Latest Pick For Mental-Health Post Has Helped Prosecutors Secure Convictions
The Trump administration is struggling to fill a top mental-health post, a job created last year to coordinate the efforts of far-flung federal agencies. The assistant secretary position in the Department of Health and Human Services was first offered to a Florida judge, but the offer was withdrawn due to his lack of a medical background, according to people familiar with the matter. A second candidate had broad support but pulled out. Now a leading contender is Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist who has testified for the prosecution in numerous high-profile criminal cases, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the process including Dr. Welner himself. He faces opposition for some controversial positions. (Hackman, 4/18)

In other Trump administration news —

The Associated Press: Feds Practice Ebola Evacuations Despite Past Trump Criticism
Donald Trump railed against President Barack Obama’s decision to bring patients with Ebola to the United States for treatment in 2014. Now that Trump is president, his administration is preparing for similar, and possibly larger-scale, evacuations. The State Department and Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday they led an unprecedented inter-agency drill last week to test their preparedness to deal with a new outbreak of Ebola or another deadly, highly infectious disease. (Lee, 4/18)

Kaiser Health News: Trump Set To Extend Flawed ‘Fix’ For VA Health Scandals
It was a “fix” that didn’t fix much — but Veterans Choice is expected to be extended anyway, with a stroke of President Donald Trump’s pen that could come as early as Wednesday. Veterans Choice is a $10 billion response to the 2014 scandal in which Veterans Affairs health facilities altered records to hide months-long waits for care in Phoenix and elsewhere. The troubled Choice program pays for private-sector health care for veterans and was set to expire in August, but the VA and some of the program’s harshest critics in Congress have agreed to extend it, with a few changes, until January. They said that will give the VA time to propose a more comprehensive package of reforms — fixes for the fix. (Whitney, 4/19)

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