Good morning ... Let's just jump right in.
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We said in Monday’s Vitals that the federal response to the opioid epidemic was about to enter a new phase of intensity — and here it is. Both the Trump administration and members of Congress announced new steps yesterday that could make a real difference in both law enforcement and public health.
The Justice Department announced that it will try to join a lawsuit, led by several state and local governments, against drugmakers and distributors that sell or sold prescription opioids.
On Capitol Hill, Sens. Rob Portman and Sheldon Whitehouse introduced the sequel to the opioids bill they helped pass in 2016. It would provide $1 billion per year in federal funding and include new policy limits such as a three-day maximum on new opioid prescriptions.
Notable: It’ll likely take more than $1 billion, but Portman and Whitehouse also say they want to enhance the government’s focus on recovery. So far, public resources have mostly been focused on immediate treatment as the death toll from overdoses continues to rise.
The liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is out this morning with a new analysis of Medicaid coverage and the opioid crisis, pushing back on the suggestion from some conservatives that the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion made the epidemic worse.
Key point: “Opioid-related hospitalizations were higher in expansion than non-expansion states as early as 2011, three years before Medicaid expansion took effect, and have been growing at roughly the same rate in expansion and non-expansion states since expansion took effect,” the report says.
Go deeper: Read the analysis here.
Jessica Mega, the chief medical officer of Verily, in 2016. Photo: Todd Williamson/Getty Images
Verily, the health care arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is in talks to partner with insurance companies to start a care-management business, CNBC reports.
The details, per CNBC’s Christina Farr:
Flashback: Another Alphabet unit, Cityblock, is planning to open brick-and-mortar clinics to provide primary care, mainly to Medicaid beneficiaries.
Bottom line: All in all, it’s an ambitious bet — with real money on the line — that Alphabet will be able to find the savings and efficiencies that everyone agrees are out there, but which the health care system so far has not been able to pinpoint.
This piece from The Health Care Blog got some serious wonk traffic yesterday — because it not only slams the door on any chance that accountable care organizations will save money, but raises serious questions about why we ever thought they would in the first place.
But hey, maybe bundled payments will work!
It’s not every day that the CEO of a publicly traded company gets deposed, but that’s apparently the situation of Wayne Smith, CEO of Community Health Systems, Axios’ Bob Herman reports.
What we're watching today: Energy and Commerce Committee holds opioid hearing.
What we're watching this week: White House opioid event Thursday. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also has an opioid event Thursday.
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