This Week's News in Substance Use: 7/14/17

Where Senate Republicans Stand on the New Health-Care Bill, The Washington Post

“Senate Republicans have no room for error as they try to rush through a new version of their health-care bill before the delayed August recess. Assuming no Democrats vote for this bill (a safe assumption because it attempts to unravel Obamacare), Senate leaders can afford to lose only two Republicans. Senate leadership unveiled a new bill on Thursday after a Congressional Budget Office report estimated its previous draft bill would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026. Three Republicans opposed to the bill would effectively kill it.”

Sessions Announces "Largest Health Care Fraud Takedown" in U.S. History, CBS News

“The Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other federal departments, revealed on Thursday the largest crackdown on health care fraud in U.S. history. 

During a DOJ press conference, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Health Care Fraud Takedown, which is now operating in its eighth year, charged 412 defendants, including 56 doctors, accused of defrauding taxpayers around $1.3 billion.”

Doctor Accused in Deaths Of At Least 7 In Oklahoma, Texas, The New York Times

“A Texas doctor wrote unnecessary prescriptions for powerful drugs that contributed to the overdose deaths of at least seven people over a four-year period, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Howard Gregg Diamond, 56, was arrested Tuesday on charges that include conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and health care fraud.”

How Repealing Obamacare Could Make Addiction Treatment Unaffordable for Millions, Time

“Opioid overdoses killed 91 Americans a day in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The epidemic has become one of the sticking points in senators’ efforts to pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as their Obamacare replacement bill is called. A number of Republican senators have spoken out against the bill, saying they won't vote for it in its current form. On the far right, Kentucky's Rand Paul has criticized it for not taking a big enough axe to Obamacare, while more moderate Republicans such as West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito and Maine's Susan Collins have expressed concerns over the bill's Medicaid cuts.

Medicaid plays a key role in paying for addiction treatment. In addition to jeopardizing care for pre-existing conditions in general and mental health care in particular, the bill would cut an estimated $772 billion from Medicaid over the next decade, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”

‘Drug Czar’ Says Vermont Opioid Treatment Valuable Model, Associated Press

“The White House ‘drug czar’ on Monday praised Vermont — a pioneering state in the fight against opioid abuse — calling its opioid addiction treatment system as “an incredibly valuable national model” that is being emulated around the country.

During a two-day visit to the state, Richard Baum, the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and his staff planned to talk with members of Vermont’s opioid and drug misuse prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement communities. On Monday, he attended a meeting of the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council, before speaking with Republican Gov. Phil Scott at a press conference in Burlington.”

Addiction Experts Blast Senate Health Care Package, NPR

“More than 60 experts in the field of opioid addiction have voiced their opposition to the Senate’s version of health care reform. One of those signing a statement opposing the bill is a professor at the Yale School of Public Health. 

The statement says that the Senate’s version of health care repeal would ‘cripple national efforts to address the opioid epidemic.’

‘One of the major benefits of expanding health care, getting more people on insurance, is it allows people to seek the care they need at an earlier stage of their various diseases,’ Robert Heimer told WNPR.”

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