What We're Reading: Private Care in VA; Arizona Medicaid Expansion; Parkinson's Drug Update

VA Secretary David Shulkin wants the private sector to play a larger role in veterans' healthcare; Arizona's Supreme Court ruled in favor of a component to keep the state's Medicaid expansion; Acorda ends drug development of tozadenant for Parkinson's disease.

Shulkin Wants More Private Care in VA

David Shulkin, the secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), announced he would like the private sector to play a larger role in veterans’ healthcare. According to The Wall Street Journal, Shulkin wants veterans to have more choice by making the VA’s hospital system compete with private-sector providers. His view on the direction of the VA is likely to draw opposition, which he hasn’t faced much—Shulkin represents one of the few cabinet members with bipartisan support. Democrats and veterans organizations oppose steps toward privatizing the VA healthcare system.

Arizona’s Supreme Court Upholds Medicaid Expansion

On Friday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding a critical component to keep the state’s Medicaid expansion and prevent the number of people in the Medicaid program from decreasing, according to The Hill. The court ruled that a hospital assessment used to help pay for the Medicaid expansion is constitutional after a group of 36 GOP lawmakers argued that the hospital assessment constituted a tax and therefore required two-thirds legislative support to enact.

Acorda Ends Parkinson’s Drug Development

After reporting 5 patient deaths during a clinical trial, Acorda Therapeutics will stop developing the Parkinson’s disease drug tozadenant. The company had found 7 cases of sepsis. Reuters reported that Acorda initially planned to stop enrolling patients in the tozadenant studies and monitor blood-cell counts for patients still enrolled, but then it decided that weekly screenings would not be sufficient to ensure safety for patients. Acorda has another Parkinson’s drug, Inbrija, but the FDA has so far refused to review it.