Jul 18, 2019

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson hospitalized after fall in apartment

Sen. Johnny Isakson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) was hospitalized in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night after fracturing 4 ribs in a fall in his apartment, his spokesperson said.

Details: Amanda Maddox said in a statement he was being treated in George Washington University Hospital. "He is in pain, but resting and doing well," she said. "Senator Isakson looks forward to fully recovering and getting back to work for Georgians."

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Jon Stewart: Rand Paul blocking 9/11 Victim Fund bill is an abomination

Former "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Jon Stewart told Fox News Wednesday it's "outrageous" that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) backed President Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cuts adding "hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit" but he voted against 9/11 first responders' funding.

Details: Paul cited national debt concerns when he voted along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) against a Senate bill that would extend the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which is running out of money. Stewart said making first responders "beg for something that this country should have done 14 years ago" was "an abomination." 

The other side: Paul's office told Fox News he's "not blocking anything." "He's simply seeking to pay for it," the statement reads, according to host Bret Baier. "As with any bill, Senator Paul always believes it needs to be paid for. Senator Paul is simply offering an amendment, which other senators support, to pay for this legislation."

  • Lee has "placed a hold on the legislation," a spokesperson told the Washington Post. The senator "fully expects the 9/11 compensation bill to pass before the August recess and he is seeking a vote to ensure the fund has the proper oversight in place to prevent fraud and abuse," the spokesperson said.

The big picture: Stewart told Fox News in June first responders were "at the end of their rope" with Congress and that the issue has "never been dealt with compassionately" by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). McConnell pledged to address the issue.

Go deeper: Jon Stewart blasts Congress for "empty" 9/11 victims hearing

Keep ReadingArrowJul 18, 2019

The Future of Pain Management

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen discusses the opioid crisis on the Axios stage. Photo: Chuck Kennedy for Axios

The big picture: Thursday morning, Axios' Health Care Editor Sam Baker hosted a 4-part conversation on the future of pain management including policy changes, investment in new research and expanded access to non-opioid choices.

Representative David B. McKinley, West Virginia

Rep. David B. McKinley (R-Wv.) discussed the impact of opioid addiction on his constituents and his frustration that the pharmaceutical industry was not being held accountable for their role in the unfolding crisis.

  • On drug makers: "When you have 200-300 pills per person for a person living in Mingo, WV, come on...They had to have known that was an excessive amount."
  • On the slow pace of legislative progress: "The frustration I have is 7 months into the 116th Congress under Pelosi, we've only had one hearing (about the opioid crisis)."

Drawing direct comparisons to European countries, he highlighted their significantly lower opioid-related overdose rates and willingness to use non-opioid courses of pain management.

  • On the need for sustained commitment: "We can't just throw money at [the opioid crisis] and expect it to go away."
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-Nh.) agreed with Rep. McKinley on the need for holding the pharmaceutical industry accountable, and the interconnections between opioid addiction and other substances.

  • On the need for a flexible approach: "What we've got to do is refocus Congress on the fact that we have not overcome this epidemic...It's evolved in a way where our approach needs to change. Our programs have to be flexible enough to address the other problems [with other substances] we're seeing."
  • On the stigma around addiction: "This is not a moral failing...this is a physical condition and we need to treat it that way."

She underscored the importance of the Affordable Care Act in maintaining current treatment programs.

  • "If [the ACA] goes away, there's no affordable alternative to treatment."
Dr. Marian Sherman, Director of Clinical Operations, Acute Pain Service Faculty, George Washington University Hospital

Anesthesiologist and Director of Clinical Operations of Acute Pain Service Faculty at George Washington University Hospital, Dr. Marian Sherman unpacked the role of opioids in a medical setting and focused on the dangers of using it as a monotherapy.

  • On layering other types of medications: "We're using different types of medications to target different types of pain...We begin with acetaminophen and drugs like Ibuprofen and Motrin before thinking about layering on opioids."
  • On the importance of short-course therapies: "We need to educate surgeons and other prescription writers to ensure that patients are only on a short course of opioids...Opioids as a monotherapy is not a good choice medically and clinically."
Admiral Brett Giroir, Health and Senior Adviser, Opioid Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Admiral Brett Giroir, Health and Senior Adviser on Opioid Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focused on the evolution of the opioid crisis and the progress being made thus far.

On the relationship between opioid addiction and fentanyl: "Prescription opioid deaths are down...and we're starting to get control over fentanyl overdoses as well. If we can treat opioid use, then we can impact the fentanyl crisis."

On making the system work for everyone: "We need to transition to a sustainable framework of care...[An important component of that] is to understand how to better reimburse people for treatment."

On the social determinants of health: "We have to deal with the underlying issues that make us all prone to this...Prescribing opioids is not an ideal solution, but we have to deal with people who have chronic, unremitting pain to deal with their quality of life."

Thank you Voices for Non-Opioid Choices for sponsoring this event.

Keep ReadingArrowJul 19, 2019

The health care debate Democrats aren't having

Candidates at the Democratic debate in Detroit. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tuesday night's field of presidential candidates fought in 30-second soundbites over the merits of single payer Medicare for All versus a public option.

Yes, but: None of the candidates moved beyond sparring over insurance reforms to address the underlying reason why people are having so much trouble affording their health care, which is that health care services keep getting more expensive.

Go deeperArrowJul 31, 2019