Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Health Care Had Never Been A Top Priority For Warren, But Somehow It’s Become A Defining Issue Of Her Campaign

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), known for having a plan for everything, started the race by signing onto Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) “Medicare for All” proposal. That decision has left her entangled with an issue that seems to be sinking her polling numbers and leaving both progressives and moderates unsatisfied, even though it wasn’t her policy to start with.

Veteran Health Care ‘Whenever, Wherever They Need It’: Use Of Telemedicine Spikes 17%

KHN Morning Briefing

Veterans Affairs has rolled out a telemedicine app, offers services online and in rural areas is opening telehealth clinics at VFWs. State restrictions were dropped for the VA, allowing VA physicians and nurses to administer care to veterans via telemedicine across state borders, regardless of state licensing. Other news on veterans is on treatment for toxic exposures and a tragic discovery.

More And More Schools Taking Advantage Of Policy Shift That Allows Their Clinics, Nurses To Bill Medicaid

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Before schools weren’t allowed to bill Medicaid, but that changed in 2014. By billing the program, schools say they will be able to help students manage chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and food allergies; offer mental health and addiction treatment; and provide dental, vision, hearing and speech services more effectively. Medicaid news comes out of Louisiana, New Hampshire and Idaho, as well.

Increasingly Bitter Personal Rivalry Between Azar And Verma Threatens To Derail Administration’s Health Goals

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Politico reports on the escalating feud between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma and the disruptions people close to the situation say it has caused. Privately, Azar’s and Verma’s camps are pointing the finger at one another, and disclosures about Verma’s use of highly paid consultants to raise her personal profile exacerbated the tensions.

Lawmakers Optimistic About Breaking Stalemate On Stalled Surprise Billing Negotiations

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While many in Congress are agreed that something must be done to address surprise medical bills, the lawmakers have been split over which of a handful of strategies to choose in moving forward. In other health industry and insurance news: record-high debt, gender pay gaps, state health exchanges, and more.

Dems Who See Health Care As Winning Issue Increasingly Sounding Alarm Over Political Pitfalls Of ‘Medicare For All’

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Warnings are being issued at all levels of the party–from union members to candidates running in swing states. “We won in Kentucky and Louisiana, barely, in part, because we won on health care. I don’t think we can afford to lose on health care,” Gov. Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.) said. Meanwhile, industry opponents for “Medicare for All” are starting to go after the moderates’ health plans as well. In other election news, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has a plan to expand mental health treatment.

A ‘Public Option’ Used To Be So Controversial It Was Dropped From ACA. In Era Of ‘Medicare For All’ It’s Regained Appeal.

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A so-called “public option” would allow people to buy a government-run health plan that competes with the private marketplace. In previous years, the policy was considered extreme, while now it’s starting to sound like the moderate option in the current political landscape. Meanwhile, Politico takes a look at the army being built to fight “Medicare for All.”

Developmentally Disabled Medicaid Beneficiaries In Missouri Stranded On Wait-Lists After Funds Were Slashed

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Even those who have been prioritized with the most need are facing a daunting wait-list for care. “We need to help legislators understand in the long run it’s better to support these individuals now,” said Erin Suelmann, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis. “It’s a moral issue, too. These are our most vulnerable population and we need to be caring for them.” Medicaid news comes out of Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, as well.

Revamped Tool To Help Medicare Patients Pick Prescription Plans Steering Them Toward More Expensive Coverage

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The Medicare plan finder’s issue stems from a significant change the agency made for 2020. The plan with the lowest premium now gets automatically placed on top, with the monthly premium displayed in large font. Medicare’s previous plan finder automatically sorted plans by total cost, not just premiums, because they are only one piece of information. Meanwhile, a new study shows that Medicare prescription plans are slower to cover new generics than private plans.