What We're Reading: DC Considering Right-to-Die Legislation

October 19, 2016

What we're reading, October 19, 2016: the District of Columbia will vote on right-to-die legislation; huge premium increases for Obamacare plans; and why primary care physicians haven't gotten involved in the opioid epidemic.

The District of Columbia is the next place in the United States to consider allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. According to The Washington Post, the DC Council will hold the first of 2 required votes on the bill on November 1, but it is unclear if the mayor will sign the bill. If DC passed the legislation, it would become the sixth jurisdiction in the country to authorize the practice. Ultimately, Congress still has the power to strike down any DC laws approved by the council and the mayor.

Health plans have been granted huge premium increases. While most of the people receiving coverage through a plan purchased on one of the Affordable Care Act exchanges don’t pay the full premium, some insurers have been granted rate increases of 30% or 50% over 2016 rates, reported The Wall Street Journal. This is shaping up to be a critical year for the Affordable Care Act, many experts believe.

Few primary care physicians are stepping in to treat substance abuse disorders and less than 1% are certified to treat addiction with buprenorphine. STAT reported that part of the problem is that the 8-hour certification course is not enough to give providers the confidence to handle the complexities of treating patients with opioid use disorders. In addition, there are few incentives to get trained, and as a result primary care physicians are staying out of the fight against the opioid epidemic.