Jun. 7: President Trump Signs VA Mission Act, But Opposes Congressional Plan To Fund It Posted on: June 7, 2018 By: admin President Trump Signs VA Mission Act, But Opposes Congressional Plan To Fund It. The Washington Post (6/6, Werner, Rein) reports that on Wednesday, President Trump signed into law the VA Mission Act which expands veterans healthcare, even though he is fighting a bipartisan plan to fund the law. The article says the measure “authorizes new health care programs for veterans, but the bill does not reserve federal money to pay for those programs.” Several top senators from both parties are working to address this issue “by advancing a separate measure for the new $50 billion law, saying this is the best way to ensure the new programs give veterans access to medical care.” But Trump is urging Republicans to vote against the proposal, instead encouraging lawmakers to pay for the expansion by making cuts to existing programs. Legislation and Policy House Ways And Means Mulling Ways To Increase Use Of HSAs. Congressional Quarterly (6/6, McIntire, Subscription Publication) reports the House Ways and Means Committee is working “on a health tax package that would address health savings accounts,” Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said on Wednesday. He is quoted as saying, “We’re developing a health care tax package for the House to consider. … It really builds off how do we make health savings accounts more user-friendly, more able to be used for preventative issues and frankly even better used to drive health care costs down.” The article says several committee members are pushing “bills that would allow consumers to use their health savings accounts in additional ways or increase how much money they can contribute to those accounts.” Modern Healthcare (6/6, Luthi, Subscription Publication) reports that during a House Ways and Means health subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers examined “ways to expand use of health savings accounts, but Democrats were skeptical that new policies would address the escalating costs that patients face.” Indiana College Wins Injunction Against ACA’s Contraceptive Mandate. The AP (6/6) reports that Grace College and Seminary in northern Indiana “has won its long-running lawsuit seeking religious exemption from paying for employees’ birth control under” the ACA. The article says “federal Judge Jon E. DiGuilio in South Bend issued a permanent injunction Monday,” which “stops the enforcement of a portion of the law related to providing contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization through student and employee health insurance plans.” Public Health and Private Healthcare Systems NYTimes: Work Requirements For Medicaid Enrollees Are Not Effective. In an editorial, the New York Times (6/6, Subscription Publication) criticizes states requiring Medicaid recipients to work in order to keep their health insurance coverage. The Times argues that the vast majority “of Medicaid enrollees who would be subject to the new work requirements face limitations that include significant health problems, a seriously ill family member, no vehicle or a lack of education,” for which reasons it is difficult or “impossible for many of them to meet the new rule’s monthly reporting requirements, even if they managed to secure the required 80 hours of work each month.” The editorial concludes, “Medicaid expansion has now been implemented in 33 states, signifying that most citizens understand and accept this responsibility. But to fully meet it, funding and oversight need to be in the right places.” Bill That Would Impose Medicaid Work Requirements Advances In Michigan House. The AP (6/6, Eggert) reports that some “500,000 able-bodied, nonelderly adults in Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program would have to work or meet related requirements to keep qualifying for government health insurance under a revised bill that cleared a major legislative hurdle on Wednesday and is expected to become law.” The article says Michigan’s House Appropriations Committee approved the measure along party lines. The final vote was 17-10. The bill now advances to the full House. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is expected to sign the bill if the House passes it. The Detroit Free Press (6/6, Gray) reports that the measure “is a compromise from what was initially proposed, which included a 29-hour work week requirement and a controversial provision that would allow counties that had unemployment rates of 8.5% or more to be exempt from the work requirements.” That provision would have primarily benefited “rural counties, but not urban cities such as Detroit, Flint and Saginaw that are in counties that have lower overall unemployment rates.” Federal Judge Gives Preliminary Approval To Deal That Would Resolve Hepatitis C Suit. The AP (6/6) reports federal Judge Denise Page Hood “has given preliminary approval to a deal that would expand access to hepatitis C treatments for Michigan residents on Medicaid.” A lawsuit accused Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) health department “of limiting new antiviral medicine only to the most serious cases.” Under an agreement, “the state will increase access to people with certain hepatitis C conditions on Oct. 1,” followed by all Medicaid patients with hepatitis C in the fall of 2019. South Carolina Governor To Pursue Efforts To Impose Medicaid Work Requirements. The Columbia (SC) State (6/6, Schechter) reports South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) “‘enthusiastically’ will pursue a waiver that would require able-bodied, working-age adults on Medicaid to get a job or volunteer if they want to keep their health care coverage, his office said Wednesday.” The article says a new study concluded “the health care of close to 200,000 low-income South Carolinians could be at risk if the federal government approves that proposal.” However, “McMaster’s office was unimpressed.” Also in the News Survey Reveals Persistence Of Healthcare Disparities Between Wealthy And Lower-Income People, Whites And Minorities. The Hartford (CT) Courant (6/6, Regan) reports a survey conducted by the Conn. Health I-Team and Southern Connecticut State University found that 83 percent of respondents said they had a primary-care physician, but the rate was lower among African Americans (78 percent) and Hispanics (75 percent). Data show “white respondents were more likely than the average – at 88 percent – to have a primary care doctor.” Overall, “white residents and those making more than $50,000 a year were more likely to have health insurance and use it.” The article says these findings “highlight health care disparities between wealthier residents and those in lower income brackets, and between white respondents and minorities – findings that mirror those of” a 2015 study.