RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 03/25/2016

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Illegal Immigrants Get Public Health Care
Louise Radnofsky, WSJ
When federal lawmakers wrote the act overhauling the nation’s health-care system six years ago, they ruled out any possibility of extending health insurance to illegal immigrants. Local officials where many of those immigrants live are treating them anyway.

Why Prescription Drugs Aren't Part of Obamacare
Caitlin Owens, MC
Obamacare did little, if anything, to rein in the price of prescriptions. That’s partly because the issue wasn’t nearly as prominent six years ago as it is today. Another reason is that the ACA passed by a thread, and lawmakers who worked to pass it said they did the best they could at the time.

CBO Offers Mixed View of Health Law Costs
Robert Pear, New York Times
More people will be enrolled in Medicaid than predicted a year ago, fewer will be covered through the new public insurance marketplaces and the overall cost of insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act will be higher than expected last year, the Congressional Budget Office said Thursday. But the cost of insuring people will be substantially lower than the budget agency expected when the law was passed, on party-line votes, in 2010. It now estimates that the cost will total $465 billion in 2016-19, which is 25 percent less than its original estimate.

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Preserve Medicare Advantage to protect those with chronic conditions who need the quality, coordinated care it provides. Learn more.

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How to Get to a Value-Based Health Care System
RealClearHealth recently spoke with Dr. Rita Numerof, who co-authored the new book, Bringing Value to Healthcare: Practical Steps to Getting to a Market-Based Model, with Michael Abrams. In their book, Numerof and Abrams highlight the current challenges facing doctors, hospitals, insurers, and consumers -- and then provide a road map of actions that must be undertaken by each of these parties to get to a more transparent, accountable, and efficient health care system.

CMS to Test Paying More for Skilled Nursing
Virgil Dickson, Mod. HC
The CMS will test whether paying skilled-nursing facilities more will help reduce avoidable hospital admissions among their long-term-care residents. Industry stakeholders say the move acknowledges the role of post-acute-care facilities in improving quality of care, a role integral to the upcoming bundled payment model.

Demand for Addiction Treatment During Pregnancy
Vestal, Stateline
Nationwide, the number of pregnant women using heroin, prescription opioids or medications used to treat opioid addiction has increased more than five-fold and it’s expected to keep rising. With increased opioid and heroin use, the number of babies born with severe opioid withdrawal symptoms has also spiraled, leaving hospitals scrambling to find better ways to care for the burgeoning population of mothers and newborns.

Tiny Opioid Patients Need Help Easing Into Life
Kirstin Gourlay, NPR
As rates of opioid addiction have continued to climb in the U.S., the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome has gone up, too — by five-fold from 2000 to 2012, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. It can be a painful way to enter the world, abruptly cut off from the powerful drug in the mother's system. The baby is usually born with some level of circulating opioids.

Heart Attacks Striking Younger, Fatter Americans
Reinberg, HealthDay
The average age of people suffering the deadliest heart attacks fell from 64 years old to 60 years old over the past two decades, Cleveland Clinic researchers report. And obesity is now implicated in 40 percent of severe heart attacks.

Primary Care Falls Short Managing Depression
Michelle Andrews, KHN
Although primary care doctors frequently see patients with depression, they typically do less to help those patients manage it than they do for patients with other chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma or congestive heart failure, a recent study found.

New System Needed to Track Faulty Devices
Meredith Cohn, Balto. Sun
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now says it's a priority to more quickly share information about faulty products within the medical community and with the public. The agency is working with the University of Maryland and other institutions to develop an easily accessible system that will begin collecting and analyzing real-time data as soon as devices hit the market.

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Millions are facing new cuts to Medicare Advantage that will undermine chronic care management for those who don’t qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. That means fewer choices and higher costs. Proposed changes to Medicare Advantage should be delayed to find a solution that works for everyone. Learn more.

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