Around the Agencies
- GAO issues report on group home and institution care for foster children
- FDA approves nasal spray formulation of naloxone
- CMS announces more than 1.08 million people have selected health plans through federal exchanges since the beginning of open enrollment this month
In the News
- New State PDMP profile reports posted on TTAC website
- 2016 Health Insurance Marketplace opens enrollment period
- National Academy of Science study finds increasing mortality of middle-aged white men and women associated with drug and alcohol poisonings
- Congresswoman Suzan DelBene organizes bipartisan letter in support of NIH funding
- UnitedHealthcare warns of possible exit from ACA exchanges within next two years
- SAMHSA announces webinar discussing behavioral health outreach to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans
Around the Agencies
GAO issues report on group home and institution care for foster children
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report on the usage of group home or institutional care for foster children. The report examined the prevalence of group home or institutional foster care, commonly referred to as congregate care, throughout the country. Many States have worked towards placing foster children in family-based settings instead of congregate care over the past decade. The GAO report examined eight States’ foster care systems, finding that usage of congregate care declined 47 percent from FY 2004 to FY 2013 using data available from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report notes that the States examined still retained many children within the congregate care system, ranging from 5 percent to 34 percent of foster children within each respective State in FY 2013. The GAO recommends that HHS continue to support State efforts to reduce congregate care.
FDA approves nasal spray formulation of naloxone
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its approval of intranasal naloxone last week. Intranasal naloxone is a new formulation of naloxone that administers the medication via a nasal spray. First responders and primary caregivers have long suggested that intranasal naloxone presents a preferable alternative to the usage of syringes or auto-injectors, as nasal sprays are easier to deliver to overdose patients and carry a lower risk of contamination. The FDA’s approval follows a public-private partnership organized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to speed development of and conduct clinical trials for intranasal naloxone. Clinical trials found the nasal spray as or more effective as traditional naloxone, with the FDA eventually fast-tracking its review for the nasal spray.
CMS announces more than 1.08 million people have selected health plans through federal exchanges since the beginning of open enrollment this month
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that more than 1.08 million people have signed up for healthcare coverage through the federal exchanges since the beginning of open enrollment earlier this month. CMS made the announcement as part of a weekly “Open Enrollment Snapshot” released at the end of each week during open enrollment. These snapshots provide real-time estimates of plan selections, call center activity, and traffic to HealthCare.gov. CMS notes that two-thirds of plan selections were made by individuals renewing coverage or selecting a new plan, with one-third of selections made by individuals without current marketplace coverage.
In the News
New State PDMP profile reports posted on TTAC website
New State prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) reports were recently posted on the PDMP Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) website. The new reports were compiled using data from TTAC surveys and contact with PDMP administrators, and contain updated contact information, technological capabilities, policies and procedures, available reports, and authorized requestors for each respective PDMP. TTAC also created several new maps and tables designed to illustrate PDMP processes throughout the country.
2016 Health Insurance Marketplace opens enrollment period
The 2016 enrollment period for health insurance began on November 1st. Individuals seeking insurance may now visit Healthcare.gov to apply for a 2016 plan, renew their current plan, or pick a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
National Academy of Science study finds increasing mortality of middle-aged white men and women associated with drug and alcohol poisonings
The National Academy of Science published a study finding that the increasing mortality of middle-aged white men and women is associated with drug and alcohol use. The study suggests that increased prescribing of opioid painkillers beginning in the late 1990s led to significant misuse and mortality from 1999 to 200, finding that “for every prescription painkiller death in 2008, there were 10 treatment admissions for abuse, 32 emergency department visits for misuse or abuse, 130 people who were abusers or dependent, and 825 nonmedical users,” according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. The National Academy of Science notes that more stringent regulation of prescription painkillers may have pushed individuals with substance use disorders to use heroin, further increasing to mortality.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene organizes bipartisan letter in support of NIH funding
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA) organized and submitted a bipartisan letter in support of increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week. The letter asks the House Appropriations Committee to provide at least $32 billion in funding for the NIH in any forthcoming appropriations bills, and outlines the importance of the NIH in researching diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. Supporters of increased NIH funding assert that federal appropriations for NIH research has stagnated over the past decade, with the agency’s purchasing power decreasing more than 20 percent since 2013. The current House bill (H.R. 3020) allocates $31.2 billion for the NIH in FY 2016, compared to $32 billion in the Senate appropriations bill. One hundred and forty-five members of the House signed on to the letter in support.
UnitedHealthcare warns of possible exit from ACA exchanges within next two years
UnitedHealthcare warned of its possible exit from healthcare exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during a shareholder meeting last week. Stephen Hemsley, UnitedHealthcare’s CEO, stated that the recent closures of healthcare co-ops may increase risks and costs for the company. UnitedHealthcare’s projects its fourth-quarter revenue will be $425 million less than expected, and plans to eliminate 2016 marketing plans in response. The company will continue to monitor the insurance exchange marketplace throughout 2016 to determine its participation in 2017 and beyond.
SAMHSA announces webinar discussing outreach to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently announced a new webinar discussing outreach to American Indian and Alaska Native veterans. The webinar will focus on the need for increased cultural competency among mental health and substance use disorder providers when dealing with these communities, including better knowledge of tribal health practices and increased federal and State coordination with tribal community health programs. Best practices for enhancing outreach and increasing access to treatment will also be examined. The webinar will be held on Friday, December 11th from 3-4 PM EST.
Should you have any questions, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Morrison, Executive Director, (202) 293-0090 or Shalini Wickramatilake-Templeman, Public Policy Associate, at (202) 293-0090.