What We're Reading: Christie Vetoes Diabetes Prevention Program

A pocket veto ends hopes of Medicaid coverage for the Diabetes Prevention Program, MannKind partners with a pain medication manufacturer, and Governor Terry Branstad finds more Medicaid managed care woes.

Add the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) to the list of causes that have become casualties of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s campaign for president. The governor failed to act on a bill to require Medicaid coverage for the evidence-based DPP, even though both houses of the Legislature passed it by overwhelming margins as the 2014-2015 session concluded. In a letter to the diabetes advocacy community, Samuel Grossman, PharmD, CDE, RPh, American Diabetes Association (ADA) advocacy chair for New Jersey, explains that Christie’s use of the “pocket veto” will not deter the ADA from continuing its fight for the bill, which also ensured access to self-management education and nutritional therapy. Still, he writes, "This is a very disappointing and huge setback for Medicaid coverage in New Jersey."

Gov. Chris Christie

Christie has spent little time in the state while campaigning for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, and several popular bills suffered the pocket veto. Christie’s spokesman complained that the Legislature passed too many bills on its final day in session. The day after Christie criticized Michelle Obama for seeking healthy school lunches, reporters learned he failed to sign a bill to require 20 minutes of school recess. Lawmakers cannot override a pocket veto, which happens when governors simply let bills die on their desk at the end of a legislative session.

Report finds managed care miscalculations. The hits just keep coming for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and his effort to implement Medicaid managed care. An investigation in the Des Moines Register has found that the $51 million savings figure that Branstad’s administration cited for the first 6 months of managed care—and to which an administration official testified in court—was later revised downward to $36.6 million. The documents obtained by the newspaper have not previously been released. Iowa had planned to roll out Medicaid managed care on January 1, 2016, but CMS officials said the state was not ready, and pushed off the launch date until at least March 1, 2016. Meanwhile, contractors are challenging the selection process in court.

MannKind in the pain business? The creator of the inhaled insulin Afrezza got some good news early today when it announced a collaboration with the Seattle-based Receptor Life Sciences to develop inhaled therapies to treat chronic pan, neurological diseases, and inflammatory disorders. Seeking Alpha reports that MannKind will transfer certain manufacturing technology to Receptor, which will take the lead on commercialization of the products. MannKind’s inhaler technology, known as the Dreamboat, was considered a major improvement over the previous attempt at inhaled insulin, but FDA requirements for spirometry and insurer mandates for prior authorization led to Afrezza sales that were a fraction of expectations. Sanofi began the process of unwinding its marketing agreement with MannKind earlier this month.