What We're Reading: Lawsuit Over Short-Term Insurance; Panel Worried About Arkansas; Heroin Use Drops

September 17, 2018

Patient and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration’s plan to let people buy short-term health insurance that doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act; members of the federal Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission advisory panel expressed concerns that 4350 low-income people in Arkansas had lost Medicaid coverage because they failed to show they were complying with new work requirements; half as many people tried heroin for the first time in 2017 as in 2016, but marijuana use grew.

Trump Administration Sued Over Short-Term Health Insurance

Patient and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration’s plan to let people buy short-term health insurance that doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Wall Street Journal reported that the suit was filed against HHS, the Treasury Department, the Labor Department, their agency heads, and the Justice Department. Short-term plans don’t have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and insurers can charge higher premiums based on health status. The suit, filed in US District Court for the District of Columbia, argues that the rule runs contrary to the ACA and will harm patients by resulting in higher costs for those with medical conditions.

Federal Panel Concerned About Arkansas Patients Losing Medicaid Due to Work Requirements

Members of the federal Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission advisory panel expressed concerns that 4350 low-income people in Arkansas had lost Medicaid coverage because they failed to show they were complying with new work requirements, The New York Times reported. Under the Trump administration, CMS is portraying Medicaid as a program that serves “able-bodied” adults and is promoting work requirements as a way to gain self-sufficiency and even better health. Panel members said they agreed that states should be allowed to experiment with new models, but said they were concerned about the effect on people’s lives and wanted more information about the program.

Heroin Use Drops but More People Try Marijuana, Report Says

Half as many people tried heroin for the first time in 2017 as in 2016, Kaiser Health News reported. Data from the government’s annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, however, showed that marijuana use increased last year, especially among pregnant women and young adults. The increase was likely linked to the growing number of states that have legalized marijuana and the belief that marijuana is harmless, according to Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, who directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.