What We're Reading: New VA Deal; Antibiotics Debate; Alabama Ends Managed Care Shift

Congress Reaches VA Spending Deal

Republicans and Democrats have agreed on an emergency spending bill to end the budget crisis in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to the AP, the package includes $3.9 billion that will help prevent a disruption in medical care for veterans as well as money for core VA health programs. Of the funding, $2.1 billion over 6 months will go to continue funding the Choice program. Veterans' groups had protested the original House plan, which they felt would lead to too much privatization.

Full Course of Antibiotics

A new opinion piece in BMJ is calling into question the widely held belief that patients must take the full course of antibiotics. The directive to finish the full course is not actually grounded in science, and may have helped create the current resistance problem, reported The Washington Post. A number of current studies are trying to determine whether the full course is necessary or if there is a shorter time period that patients can take antibiotics safely. Already, some studies have found that for some diseases and infections, 1 day of drugs is often sufficient and a full week is overkill.

Alabama Ends Medicaid Managed Care Proposal

A long-running plan to shift Alabama’s Medicaid program to managed care has come to an end. State officials have run into issues when it became uncertain if federal officials would maintain Medicaid funding. The overhaul was supposed to move some of the state’s Medicaid patients to managed care in the hope of controlling costs while improving outcomes. The state also decided to end the shift after receiving promises from the Trump administration that it will be reforming Medicaid to allow states more flexibility.