What We're Reading: EPA Revises Lead and Copper Rule; Monitoring Vaping-Related Illnesses; GAO Study Faults CMS


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised its lead and copper rule to better identify elevated lead levels and undertake issues sooner; physicians given advice on how to monitor vaping-related illnesses in patients; a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study finds CMS approved Medicaid work requirements without considering price.

EPA Proposes Revision to Rules on Testing for Lead Contamination in Water

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposal aiming to improve how communities nationwide test for lead in drinking water and force quicker action when problems occur, according to The Washington Post. The proposal comes after nearly 3 decades since the federal government last updated its lead and copper rule in 1991, which has been highly criticized for its lack enforceability among affected towns. As scientists stress that lead exposure is unsafe at any level, heightened levels can prove fatal. The EPA’s proposal has been touted by the agency as a “proactive and holistic approach” which will identify elevated lead levels across 68,000 public water systems and force utilities to undertake issues sooner.

United States to Issue Advice for Doctors Focused on Vaping-Related Illnesses

US health officials are planning to issue new guidance for doctors amid the vaping illness epidemic by stressing the need to ask every patient with an apparent respiratory infection about their vaping history, according to Reuters. The guidance will additionally advise physicians on how to diagnose and manage patients who may have both a lung infection and a vaping injury. The updated guidance comes after the CDC’s recommendation to doctors to start asking patients about their vaping history during routine visits. As flu season approaches, the guidance aims to prioritize vaping-related lung illnesses as a possible cause in addition to the flu and other respiratory ailments.

GAO Study Faults CMS For Approved Medicaid Work Requirements

A study produced by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) has faulted the Trump administration of approving Medicaid work requirements without accounting for the estimated implementation costs, which range from $10 million to over $250 million for states. The Wall Street Journal reports that GAO found CMS has allowed states to add work requirements without requiring projections on the administrative costs, which is inconsistent with federal control standards. Since 2018, CMS has approved 9 states’ demonstrations that require beneficiaries to work or participate in other activities, such as training, to maintain Medicaid eligibility. The estimates reported by these states to implement these requirements did not include ongoing costs states expect to incur throughout the demonstration.

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