What We're Reading: State Insurance Mandates; Universal Flu Vaccine; Fla. Opioid Bills

At least 9 states are considering their own health insurance mandates now that Congress has repealed that of the Affordable Care Act; a senator is calling on the United States to invest $1 billion into developing a universal flu vaccine; physicians believe proposed Florida legislation may be too tough on opioid prescriptions.

States Consider Individual Health Insurance Mandates

With Congress having repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s individual mandate starting in 2019, there are least 9 states considering their own insurance requirements. According to The Wall Street Journal, the 9 states are all blue states, and passing such laws will more sharply divide Democratic and Republican states over the health law. The individual mandate was the least popular part of the ACA, but having one might make insurers more likely to stay in ACA exchanges, creating competition that lowers premiums. Most states are in the early stages of examining how to impose a mandate.

Investing in Developing a Universal Flu Vaccine

As the flu season continues to intensify in the United States, Senator Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, is calling for investment in a universal flu vaccine. Markey has said that the deadly flu season has proven the need for a better vaccine, and called for the country to spend $1 billion on developing a universal vaccine, reported AP. The current rate of flu visits is at its highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009. A company in the United Kingdom is currently conducting a clinical trial on the first universal flu vaccine with $27.6 million from investors.

Florida Opioid Bills Might Be Too Tough

Physicians in Florida are concerned that proposed state legislation may go too far, limiting flexibility for practitioners and placing a burden on patients. The bills being considered by House and Senate committees limit prescriptions for opioids to as short as 3 days. In cases when physicians document that a longer supply of painkillers is medically necessary, prescriptions may be given for up to 7 days. Since 2016, 24 states have passed legislation that limits or provides guidelines on opioid prescriptions. Only 2 have limits as low as 3 or 4 days.