What We're Reading: Block Grants Explained, Flint Lead Levels, and VA Hiring Freeze

A roundup of top healthcare news stories: January 25, 2017.

A Look at a Favored GOP Strategy for Medicaid: Block Grants

Kaiser Health News has provided an in-depth look at block granting, a strategy favored by Republicans for managing Medicaid. The strategy has been at the center of healthcare reform proposals by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Representative Tom Price, R-Georgia, who is President Donald Trump’s choice to run HHS. The article delves into how block grants work, why block granting is controversial, and the likelihood of the GOP actually implementing block grants when it repeals and replaces the Affordable Care Act.

Water Lead Levels in Flint, Michigan, Finally Fall Below Federal Limits

More than 1000 days without clean drinking water, the city of Flint’s water no longer exceeds federal limits for lead levels, reported The Washington Post. While the water is safe to drink, residents are still advised to drink filtered water. The situation in Flint was first exposed more than 1 year ago when blood lead levels in the city’s children were skyrocketing. There are still lead pipes in the city, and until they are replaced, residents should drink filtered water to ensure it isn’t dangerous.

Trump Issues Federal Hiring Freeze That Impacts Understaffed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Long wait times and difficult access to care for the nation’s veterans were part of Trump’s talking points during his campaign for the presidency. However, even though wait times remain more than a month and there are thousands of open jobs at the VA, the president’s recently imposed federal hiring freeze will apply to the VA as well, according to USA Today. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the freeze is temporary and that the Trump administration is waiting to ensure David Shulkin, the current undersecretary for health at the VA and Trump’s pick to lead the VA, is confirmed.