What We're Reading: Trump Would Expand Insurance Coverage Through Medicaid

What we're reading, September 16, 2016: Donald Trump mentions using Medicaid to expand coverage and making birth control available without a prescription; medical marijuana could curb the opioid epidemic; and how rare diseases are becoming more common.

In contradiction to what his party has proposed in the past, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he would use Medicaid to expand insurance coverage for poor people. According to Bloomberg, Trump made these comments during a filming for The Dr. Oz Show, but a spokesman said the candidate is not proposing an expansion of Medicaid. Trump further said he wants birth control to be available without a prescription. However, he also announced a new “pro-life coalition” with the president of a top national group opposing abortion to head the coalition, USA Today reported. Additionally, Trump said he would make the Hyde Amendment, which withholds some federal funds from being used for abortion, a permanent law.

The opioid epidemic in the United States has become an issue of national focus, but there may be an overlooked way to combat this problem. A study found that medical marijuana may be used to curb the growing opioid epidemic, reported The Washington Post. In states where medical marijuana has been made legal, there are fewer people using opioids, researchers concluded. As a result, there are fewer painkiller overdose deaths in those states.

Rare diseases are becoming more common, which may necessitate revisiting orphan drug incentives, writes Peter Ubel, MD, for Forbes. The government passed the Orphan Drug Act in 1983 in order to incentivize companies to create treatments for rare diseases, and the industry has become quite profitable with the rate of orphan drug approvals accelerating. Precision medicine has made rare diseases more common as people with a common illness, like cancer, may be diagnosed with a subcategory. With medical care becoming more precise, orphan drug incentives need to better align with clinical practices.