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What We're Reading: Opioid National Emergency; Arkansas Waiver; Hospice Discharges


Trump Declares Opioid Epidemic a National Emergency

President Donald Trump has said that his administration is drafting papers to officially declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. According to Reuters, a formal declaration could mean additional funding and improved access to treatment. The opioid epidemic will present a different challenge than previous national emergencies, which tended to be short-term crises. Earlier this week, Trump had spoken of law enforcement’s role in stopping the epidemic without declaring a national emergency.

Arkansas Seeks New Type of Medicaid Waiver

The Trump administration has already indicated it is more open to giving states greater flexibility when it comes to Medicaid, and Arkansas is looking to take advantage of that. The state is looking to partially expand Medicaid up to only 100% of the federal poverty line instead of 133%, reported Vox. The state is likely looking to limit its Medicaid expansion population because the federal government will not pay for 100% of the costs. However, it will cover all costs for people on the insurance exchanges.

Discharged From Hospice Before Death

There has been an increase in the number of people being discharged from hospices before they die, and a study has found that these “live discharges” are more profitable, according to NPR. Although there was an association between high rates of live discharges and high profit margins, the researchers were unable to determine the cause. Nearly 1 in 5 patients in hospices are being discharged before they die, a number that has steadily climbed since 2000. The study found that the rate of live discharges is highest in the South.

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