What We're Reading: Kansas Medicaid Expansion; Lead Poisoning Hazards; FDA Staff Cuts

Medicaid Expansion Approved by Kansas Legislature, but Faces Likely Veto

The Kansas Senate voted 25-14 to approve a bill that would expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, after the state’s House passed the bill by an 81-44 vote last month. Neither of these votes represent a veto-proof majority, so the expansion has a slim chance of being made law when it reaches the desk of Republican Governor Sam Brownback. According to The New York Times, a spokeswoman for the governor rebuked the legislature for expanding “a failing entitlement program.”

Childhood Lead Exposure Linked to Cognitive Difficulties, Downward Social Mobility

New research published in JAMA has presented some startling findings about the long-term toll of lead exposure in childhood. When the study participants reached age 38 years, lead exposure during childhood was linked to lower scores in IQ, perceptual reasoning, and working memory, as well as lower socioeconomic status, and these deficits grew larger for those who had higher levels of blood lead as a child. The authors wrote that the findings support the hypothesis that “lead exerts a degradative effect on cognitive ability and a downward pull on socioeconomic status over time regardless of children's cognitive ability or socioeconomic status in early life.”

FDA Budget to Be Cut by $40 Million, Driven by Slowdowns in Hiring

Inside Health Policy reports that congressional appropriators have received a proposal from the White House that would set 2017 funding for the FDA at $2.683 billion, a figure $40 million lower than expected. The document stated that this reduction “is derived from staffing and non-pay administrative reductions” for the rest of the year, including hiring at a slower pace than anticipated. The agency has about 1000 job vacancies, and the White House had previously indicated that jobs essential to public health, including food and drug safety, would be exempt from the administration’s federal hiring freeze.