What We're Reading: Pfizer Pays $784 Million in Medicaid Settlement

What we're reading, February 17, 2016: Pfizer pays to settle Medicaid claims case; needle exchanges will get financial boost with federal funding; and in New Jersey, Chris Christie releases budget that includes steep cuts to hospitals.

Pfizer has agreed to pay $784.6 million to resolve unpaid Medicaid claims related to rebates by drug maker Wyeth, which Pfizer acquired in 2009. Officials claims that the miscalculations by Wyeth for not offering Medicaid the discounts it gave to hospitals on the heartburn drug Protonix amounted to millions of dollars, reported USA Today. This is not the first time Pfizer has paid big over Wyeth’s Protonix. In 2012, the company paid because the drug was promoted for uses not approved by the FDA.

A decision to lift the ban on federal funding on needle exchanges will give these centers a much-needed financial boost. However, since the money can only be used to pay for staff and programs, exchanges will have to continue to rely on private donations to purchase syringes to be given out, according to Kaiser Health News. Exchanges are increasingly being considered as a way to save lives as opioid abuse continues to grow.

After suspending his presidential campaign, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie returned home to release his seventh budget proposal, which includes steep cuts to state hospitals. The hospital cuts include the fund for charity care cases that involve treating uninsured or underinsured patients, reported Dow Business News. According to the Christie’s administration, an increased number of insured individuals means charity care claims are decreasing. However, the Hospital Alliance of New Jersey is concerned that the cuts will put hospitals that serve the poor at risk.