What We're Reading: Medicare Extenders; Right-to-Try Opposition; Fetal Alcohol Disorders

February 7, 2018

The House's stopgap spending bill includes Medicare extenders; 40 patient advocacy groups oppose the right-to-try legislation that President Donald Trump is supporting; new research finds fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol-related disorders may be more common than previously thought.

House Spending Bill Includes Medicare Extenders

The deadline for Congress to avoid another government shutdown is fast approaching, and the House has passed a stopgap spending bill that includes provisions to fund a number of Medicare extenders. The Medicare extenders include extensions of the 2% urban, 3% rural, and 22.6% super rural ground ambulance add-on payments; the Geographic Practice Cost Indices; and the Medicare-dependent hospital program. The bill also permanently reauthorizes Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans for vulnerable populations and includes corrections to the Quality Payment Program under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. The bill is now headed for a Senate vote.

Patient Advocacy Groups Oppose Right-to-Try Bill

During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump brought attention to right-to-try legislation and urged Congress to pass legislation. However, 40 patient advocacy groups have written to House leaders and told them they oppose right-to-try legislation on experimental drugs, reported The Hill. The groups are concerned that the legislation won’t actually increase patient access and might do more harm than good by undermining patient protections. However, supporters of the legislation believe it will give terminally ill patients another chance to access a potentially life-saving drug.

Fetal Alcohol Disorder Rate Higher Than Believed

New research in JAMA has found that more American children may be suffering from fetal alcohol disorders than previously thought. According to The New York Times, alcohol-related disorders among children can cause issues that hurt a child’s development and learning ability. Some of the ways to diagnose these disorders can be difficult to identify or be attributed to other diagnoses, making it unclear how common alcohol-related disorders are. However, the researchers estimate that these disorders may be at least as common as autism among American children.