SC Gov. McMaster issues order to boot Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster ordered the state’s health agency Friday to remove abortion providers from its Medicaid provider network.

Separately, the Richland Republican ordered the state agency to use money it has left over from last year’s budget to fill a hole he created last week in the budgets of other health clinics that serve low-income South Carolinians.

That hole was created when McMaster, in an effort to remove any money for Planned Parenthood from the state’s 2018-19 budget, vetoed almost $16 million to pay for health care services for low-income South Carolinians.

That budget took effect Thursday.

“Although the state should not contract with abortion clinics for family planning services, the state also should not deny South Carolinians’ access to necessary medical care and important women’s health and family planning services,” McMaster said in his order Friday.

Critics have blasted McMaster’s veto, calling it a political stunt aimed at buying votes before he faces Democratic state Rep. James Smith in November’s election.

“As governor, I will understand the impact of my vetoes before I make them,” said Smith, who won the Democratic nomination for governor in June. “I would never play political games with the health care of the people of South Carolina.”

S.C. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Colleen Mullis did not respond to questions about the executive order on Friday.

‘A fight he’s willing to fight’

Advocates for low-income South Carolinians say McMaster’s order Friday could be challenged in court.

Sue Berkowitz, head of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center, said she is glad McMaster will allow more than 4,000 health care providers access to money to serve low-income South Carolinians. “We were concerned he was going to be cutting off family planning for everyone.”

Berkowitz added, “There’s still a huge legal issue of network adequacy, and you can’t just kick a provider of choice (Planned Parenthood) off. … I feel his executive order is still in violation of Medicaid laws.”

According to federal law, Medicaid recipients can choose their health care provider.

While states can restrict those choices through managed care arrangements, they can’t do so for family planning providers, according to the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes told The State newspaper on Friday that the governor is willing to fight to kick Planned Parenthood out of the S.C. Medicaid program.

“The governor has been very clear, for over a year and a half now, that he firmly believes no taxpayer dollars should directly or indirectly subsidize abortion, and this is another step in that direction,” Symmes said. “And it’s a fight he’s willing to fight.”

A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees the joint federal-state Medicaid system, was not immediately available for comment Friday.

‘Public health consequences’

Last Friday, McMaster vetoed $16 million in health care money from the state’s budget in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood, which receives less than $100,000 of that money, none for abortions.

However, the Legislature will not return to Columbia to take up McMaster’s vetoes until September.

McMaster’s veto and the loss of state money created confusion statewide among health care providers, unsure about how many low-income patients could be affected.

A quarter of South Carolinians — about 1.2 million of nearly 5 million — get their health care through Medicaid. Roughly 70 percent are children, senior citizens or disabled, while 30 percent are “other adults,” which includes able-bodied adults.

Planned Parenthood — which sees roughly 5,000 men, women and young adults a year — gets a small sliver of state and federal tax dollars to cover nonabortion services, including birth control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2017, the abortion provider’s two clinics, in Columbia and in Charleston, got less than $85,000 of the $42 million paid out to Medicaid providers, according to the state Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs. None of this money went to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life was in danger — all covered by federal law.

Cutting Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid network could result in more unwanted S.C. pregnancies, said Sarah Riddle, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

“We’ve seen that states that have restricted or excluded Planned Parenthood’s participation from their Medicaid programs have suffered disastrous public health consequences,” she said.

When Texas eliminated Planned Parenthood from its family planning program, the University of Texas at Austin found that women had reduced access to the full range of contraceptive methods and experienced higher rates of unintended pregnancies.

Also, women lost access to affordable reproductive health care, either because there were no other providers in their community or because other clinics could not serve all of Planned Parenthood’s patients, Riddle said.

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Campaigns For Governor Come Out Swinging On Medicaid Expansion

The Republican candidate for governor says he’s had a plan to keep Medicaid expansion for all 700,000 Ohioans covered under it. His Democratic opponent calls that a major about-face. And it shows there’s been a lot of confusion surrounding this key state policy, and what either candidate will do with Medicaid expansion if he is elected.

Republican Mike DeWine says his plan has been all along to keep Medicaid expansion but with changes, saying that will include work requirements and wellness incentive and prevention programs. “There’s no change. What we have said, all along, that it had to be reformed,” DeWine said. “The people who, our opponents in this campaign say the only way is the status quo. We believe there’s a third way.”

But Democrat Richard Cordray calls that a flip-flop – and not the first one for DeWine on this issue. “He’s been against it all from the beginning. Now he’s saying that he’s been for the Medicaid expansion – this is at least his second or third position in this campaign alone,” Cordray said.

DeWine did indeed speak out against the Affordable Care Act, passed under President Obama in 2010. He filed suit against it on his first day as Ohio’s Attorney General.  After the ACA was upheld, Gov. John Kasich pushed for Medicaid expansion as allowed under the ACA over the objections of Republican lawmakers.

Then, in 2013, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was on board. But during this year’s primary for governor she was stridently opposed – and challenged DeWine in a Plain Dealer editorial board meeting in April.

The DeWine camp has said his criticism against Medicaid expansion was aimed at Taylor, saying that she supported Medicaid expansion before she was against it, and unlike Taylor, that DeWine was never on record saying he would eliminate Medicaid expansion.  

A month before the Plain Dealer editorial board interview, DeWine said in an interview on “The State of Ohio”: “If we get from the federal government the ability to design our own program, we will design that program, working with the General Assembly to take care of the problems that we have, but we’ve got to make some changes.”

Republicans also points to a claim that Democrats have made – that 26,000 Ohio children could lose health care coverage if Medicaid expansion is rolled back by DeWine. Jon Husted, DeWine’s running mate, said those in that population are low-income adults without kids. “There are no children covered under Medicaid expansion, which we felt was important to make the point today, since our opponent does not seem to understand how the program works,” Husted said.

Cordray is now backtracking from that specific claim, but says the overall concern stands. “That number was based on a study and a report on Ohio’s Medicaid expansion. And more to the point, if you start taking health care away from 700,000 Ohioans, it’s going to affect children, it’s going to affect families,” Cordray said.

DeWine says since he doesn’t know what the federal government might do in the future, so he can’t say how long he’d favor keeping Medicaid expansion. But he and Husted have said they feel the current system, without changes, can’t continue. “This is not just a Medicaid question. Our entire health care system costs too much and we have to do everything we possibly can to drive down the costs so that not only Medicaid is sustainable, but all of health care is sustainable,” Husted said.

But Cordray disputes the claim that Medicaid expansion is unsustainable. “[DeWine] is wrong on the numbers on that. Medicaid expansion, the federal government reimburses 96 cents on the dollar for Ohio – that’s a great deal, that’s a much better deal than the basic Medicaid program itself, which is more like 60-40,” Cordray said. “At its worst, on the current trajectory, it’ll be always 90 cents on the dollar. This is a good deal for Ohio.”

Whoever wins this fall will have to work with a Republican-run legislature has taken several steps to rein in Medicaid – for instance, putting a provision in the budget to freeze enrollment in Medicaid expansion.  Gov. John Kasich vetoed that, but lawmakers have until December to try to override that veto.

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7,000 people fail to meet Arkansas Medicaid work…

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – More than 7,000 people on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion didn’t meet a requirement that they report at least 80 hours of work in June and face the threat of losing their coverage if they fail to comply sometime before the end of this year, state officials said Friday.

Arkansas’ requirement took effect last month. Participants in the program lose coverage if they don’t meet the work requirement for three months in a calendar year.

The Department of Human Services said most of the more than 27,000 people on the expansion program who were notified they were subject to the new requirement were exempt or met the requirement. The federal government earlier this year approved the state’s plan to impose the work requirement as part of Arkansas’ expansion, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

“The first report is encouraging,” Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “We are only two months in, and those on Arkansas Works are still learning the system. DHS has worked hard to make sure that everybody understands the requirements and how to comply.”

Arkansas was the first state to implement a Medicaid work requirement after the Trump administration said it would allow states to require participants to work to keep coverage. Kentucky was the first state to win approval for a work requirement, but a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing it last month.

Hutchinson has promoted the requirement as a way to move more people onto the workforce and eventually off of the government-funded coverage. Critics have said Arkansas’ requirement may end up punishing participants who are complying but aren’t able to report it to the state because of lack of Internet access or other reasons.

“The figures concern me greatly…We know that 7,000 people have to be made up of more than just the small percentage of people who are not working and who do not meet an exemption,” said Marquita Little, health policy director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

About 15,500 of the participants subject to the new work requirement did not have to report because officials had already determined they met the requirement through work, training or were otherwise exempt. Nearly 2,400 reported an exemption since they received a notice from the state in May. Only 445 satisfied the reporting requirement, DHS said. Nearly 280,000 people are on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion.

Once fully implemented, the requirement will affect able-bodied enrollees on the program with no children aged 19 to 49 years old. The requirement is being enforced on participants ages 30 to 49 this year and will expand to include those 19 to 29 years old next year.

___

Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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7,000 people fail to meet Arkansas Medicaid work requirement

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — More than 7,000 people on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion didn’t meet a requirement that they report at least 80 hours of work in June and face the threat of losing their coverage if they fail to comply sometime before the end of this year, state officials said Friday.

Arkansas’ requirement took effect last month. Participants in the program lose coverage if they don’t meet the work requirement for three months in a calendar year.

The Department of Human Services said most of the more than 27,000 people on the expansion program who were notified they were subject to the new requirement were exempt or met the requirement. The federal government earlier this year approved the state’s plan to impose the work requirement as part of Arkansas’ expansion, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents.

“The first report is encouraging,” Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. “We are only two months in, and those on Arkansas Works are still learning the system. DHS has worked hard to make sure that everybody understands the requirements and how to comply.”


Arkansas was the first state to implement a Medicaid work requirement after the Trump administration said it would allow states to require participants to work to keep coverage. Kentucky was the first state to win approval for a work requirement, but a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing it last month.

Hutchinson has promoted the requirement as a way to move more people onto the workforce and eventually off of the government-funded coverage. Critics have said Arkansas’ requirement may end up punishing participants who are complying but aren’t able to report it to the state because of lack of Internet access or other reasons.

“The figures concern me greatly…We know that 7,000 people have to be made up of more than just the small percentage of people who are not working and who do not meet an exemption,” said Marquita Little, health policy director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

About 15,500 of the participants subject to the new work requirement did not have to report because officials had already determined they met the requirement through work, training or were otherwise exempt. Nearly 2,400 reported an exemption since they received a notice from the state in May. Only 445 satisfied the reporting requirement, DHS said. Nearly 280,000 people are on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion.

Once fully implemented, the requirement will affect able-bodied enrollees on the program with no children aged 19 to 49 years old. The requirement is being enforced on participants ages 30 to 49 this year and will expand to include those 19 to 29 years old next year.

___

Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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McMaster orders state’s health department to remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is removing $16 million from the state budget that he says goes to Planned Parenthood. (Source: WIS)South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is removing $16 million from the state budget that he says goes to Planned Parenthood. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS/AP) –

On Friday, Governor Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 2018-21, which directs the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to utilize carry-forward funds to continue the Family Planning program and to terminate abortion clinics as Medicaid providers.

Among the governor’s budget vetoes issued on July 5 was Veto No. 42, which nullified the Family Planning appropriation in DHHS’s budget because some of those funds are received by abortion clinics.

“Although the State should not contract with abortion clinics for family planning services, the State also should not deny South Carolinians access to necessary medical care and important women’s health and family planning services, which are provided by a variety of other non-governmental entities and governmental agencies,” the governor said in a statement Friday. 

McMaster cut some of the funds to Planned Parenthood from the state’s $8 billion budget last week

McMaster is running for re-election this year and said during his successful campaign to win the Republican nomination on June 26 that he would make sure no taxpayer money goes to abortion providers.

“Taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood,” McMaster said. “There are a variety of agencies, clinics and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women’s health and family planning services, but without performing abortions. That’s why last year I directed state agencies to stop providing state or local funds to abortion clinics.” 

Other Republicans against abortion urged McMaster to veto $34 million from the $8 billion budget, but the governor’s office said eliminating all the money would keep 700,000 women and children from getting prescriptions through Medicaid.

Some Republicans opposed removing the money, saying it was almost all for family planning and abstinence and less than $100,000 goes to Planned Parenthood. They say filling the hole left behind might hurt law enforcement or children with autism.

Copyright 2018 WIS and the Associated Press. All rights reserved. 


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    LePage administration cuts Medicaid contract with firm

    AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is terminating Maine’s contract with a Massachusetts-based firm that was helping with the state’s Medicaid application process.

    Bangor Daily News reports the administration has ended a contract with Commonwealth Medicine after a year. The Shrewsbury company had previously agreed to a 25-month contract worth $5.6 million from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

    The LePage administration selected Commonwealth Medicine without evaluating other bids. Commonwealth Medicine had used a 10-employee team to evaluate disability claims for Medicaid.

    Taxpayers were slated to pay $300,000 more annually for the contracted work compared to using state employees. Costs also went over the budget prepared by the DHHS.

    DHHS spokeswoman Emily Spencer said in an email ending the contract allows the administration to “explore other service opportunities.”

    Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangordailynews.com

    Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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    At Garden City Forum Barnett Urges Medicaid Expansion, Kobach Wants Complete Overhaul

    At a Republican governor candidate forum in Garden City, Wednesday, former doctor Jim Barnett said expanding Medicaid would save lives and communities – by keeping rural hospitals running. But he was alone in his support of the state and federal program that defrays medical costs for people with limited income and resources.

    Other candidates decried Medicaid’s cost and the management of Kansas’s privatized Medicaid delivery system, Kancare. Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced his intention to massively overhaul the system.

    Barnett said Kansas should expand Medicaid for humanitarian reasons. Studies show that health outcomes improve in states that expand Medicaid.  Adult and infant mortality rates decrease compared to states that didn’t expand the program.

    “If you don’t have access to healthcare, you wait until it’s too late,” Barnett said. “Children and adults in this state die because of lack of access to healthcare, through no fault of their own.”

    Barnett argued that expanding Medicaid would benefit rural communities as well.

    “There are 30 hospitals – rural hospitals – on the edge of closing,” Barnett said. “If you lose your hospital, it’s like losing your school. If you want to attract business, you’d better have access to healthcare.”

    Lt. Gov. Tracy Mann, who represented an absent Gov. Jeff Colyer, opposed long-term costs and risks associated with Medicaid expansion.

    “Basically, you’re hitching your wagon to a horse and you don’t know how far … or where it’s going to go” said Mann. “States that have gone down that road have had major problems.”

    Mann said Colyer, who is also a plastic surgeon, has already supported legislation to try to keep hospitals running in the state.

    “An effective way to get more money to hospitals is by increasing the reimbursement rate,” said Mann. “The Governor championed that. That got into the legislation that was passed in this year’s budget.”

    Secretary of State Kris Kobach also opposed expansion. To reform healthcare in Kansas, Kobach said he would first ask President Trump for an exemption from The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

    “We have the opportunity to ask for a waiver, and we now have a president who dislikes Obamacare. Let’s take advantage of that situation.” Kobach said. “It boggles the mind as to why Gov. Colyer has not made such a request.

    At the forum, Kobach also announced for the first time that he wants to completely overhaul Kansas’s Medicaid system, switching it to a direct primary care system.

    “I’ll be launching a major reform of Kancare,” Kobach said.

    Direct primary care, also known as concierge medicine, is an emerging healthcare delivery model. It’s an alternative to traditional healthcare where doctors bill insurance companies for each procedure or prescription. Instead, doctors charge patients a periodic fee for primary care services. Advocates of the system say it can save money by reducing administrative costs.

    “It slashes the cost of providing excellent care,” said Kobach. “The $3.2 billion we are spending for 400,000 people would go down to $1.3 billion.

    However, critics of direct primary care say it would aggravate existing shortages of primary care doctors because, through that system, each doctor typically sees fewer patients. They also point out that patients may still need separate insurance to cover expensive procedures like cancer treatment.

    Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer and “evangelical entrepreneur” Patrick Kuchera also attended the forum.

    The primary to select the Republican candidate for governor and candidates for other state offices will take place Aug. 7.

    A forum for Democratic governor candidates will take place at Garden City High School on July 24.

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    Suit seeks to keep Medicaid expansion petition off November ballot

    Worried that a Medicaid expansion would have a negative impact on property taxes in Nebraska, state Sen. Lydia Brasch has joined a former state senator in filing a lawsuit to keep the issue off the ballot in November’s general election.

    Ryan McIntosh of Mattson Rickets Law Firm, Lincoln, filed the suit Monday in Lancaster County District Court on behalf of Brasch and former state Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial.

    The suit also says that Christensen, the parent of a child who receives Medicaid benefits, is concerned that if the Medicaid Expansion Petition proceeds “his son’s benefits will be reduced or altered.”

    Defendants in the lawsuit include Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, Insure the Good Life, a ballot question committee, Sara Amanda Gershon of Lincoln, Kathy Campbell, former state senator from Lincoln, and Rowen Zetterman of Omaha, who are committee members.

    Last week, the committee submitted more than 133,000 signatures collected from all 93 Nebraska counties.

    In a press release, Katie Wolf, communications director for Insure the Good Life, said during the past three months people have been collecting signatures from citizens covering the entire political spectrum to qualify the initiative, which would bring health coverage to residents who are caught in what’s known as “the health coverage gap,” which means they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to be eligible for financial assistance so they can afford coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange.

    The state requires around 85,000 valid signatures, including signatures from 7 percent of total registered voters in the state and from 5 percent of registered voters in at least two-fifths of counties. The secretary of state and county clerks have 40 days to certify the signatures with an optional 10-day extension for counties that may need extra time.  

    Brasch, who represents Washington, Burt and Cuming counties in the Nebraska Legislature, and Christensen are seeking to stop the certification, and are requesting a declaratory judgement that the expansion petition is invalid and legally insufficient.

    Among their arguments is that the petition directs the the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which is part of the executive branch of government, to exercise legislative powers reserved to the legislative branch in violation of the Nebraska Constitution.

    They also argue that the petition contains two subjects — expanding eligibility for medical assistance to adults ages 19-64 whose income is equal to or less than 138 percent of the federal poverty rate and directing DHHS to take all actions necessary to maximize federal financial participation in funding medical assistance — which they say violate the state constitution.

    “Maximizing federal funding is not natural or necessary to expanding medical assistance as set for in the first subject of the petition,” the suit reads. “Therefore, the Medicaid expansion petition contains two separate and distinct subjects in violation of Article III, Section 2 of the Nebraska Constitution.”

    Brasch and Christensen also contend that the committee’s failure to list Nebraska Appleseed, a Nebraska nonprofit corporation, as a sworn sponsor is also a violation, pointing to state statute which says that prior to obtaining signatures on an initiative or referendum petition, a statement of the object of the petition and the text of the measure be filed with the secretary of state together with a sworn statement containing the names and street addresses of every person, corporation or association sponsoring the petition.

    Brasch told the Enterprise she was unable to comment on the lawsuit at this time.

    Representatives from Insure the Good Life have vowed to fight.

    “We are confident that the 135,000 signatures we delivered to the Secretary of State will ensure that Medicaid expansion will appear on the ballot in November,” Meg Mandy, campaign manager, said in a press release responding to the lawsuit. “Senators Lydia Brasch and Mark Christiansen are two politicians who have failed to bring back over $1 billion of Nebraska taxpayers’ money and who have failed to find solutions for working Nebraskans to access healthcare. This is clearly a desperate attempt to block the people’s ability to voice their opinion on this issue and ensure affordable healthcare for 90,000 Nebraskans. 135,000 Nebraska voters demanded this be on the ballot in November and we will fight for their right to vote and be heard.”

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    In Medicaid patients, high opioid doses and concurrent sedative use are risk factors for fatal opioid overdose

    Among Medicaid recipients taking prescription opioids, high opioid doses and concurrent treatment with benzodiazepine sedatives are among the key, potentially modifiable risk factors for fatal overdose, reports a study in the August issue of Medical Care.

    “Prescribers and state agencies should be aware of these addressable patient-level factors among the Medicaid population,” according to the new research, led by Timothy T. Pham, PharmD, Ph.D., of University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, Oklahoma City. “Targeting these factors with appropriate policy interventions and education may prevent future deaths.”

    Clinical Factors and Medications Contribute to Opioid Overdose Risk in Medicaid Patients

    In a review of Oklahoma Medicaid and Oklahoma State Department of Health data from 2011 to 2016, the researchers identified 639 Medicaid members who died of an unintentional prescription opioid overdose. Of these, 321 had at least one Medicaid-covered opioid prescription in the year before death. The average age was 44.5 years; 64 percent of the patients were women and 81 percent were white.

    These cases of overdose death were matched to 963 living Medicaid recipients with similar characteristics, including opioid prescriptions. Demographic factors, clinical characteristics, and medical/pharmacy use over the preceding year were analyzed to identify individual-level risk factors for prescription opioid overdose.

    Medicaid patients who died of opioid overdose were more likely to have common causes of chronic pain—particularly neck or joint pain and low back pain. Fatal overdose was more likely for patients diagnosed with opioid dependence, as well as in those with other types of drug toxicity. Risk was also increased for individuals with hepatitis, a common complication in people with addiction disorders; and for those with certain psychiatric disorders, particularly bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

    Higher-dose opioid prescriptions were also an important risk factor. For patients in the two highest dose categories, the odds of fatal opioid overdose were three times higher compared to the control group.

    Individuals taking benzodiazepines—a widely used class of sedative drugs—were also at increased risk. About 29 percent of patients who died of prescription opioid overdose were taking benzodiazepines at the same time. The odds of death were elevated with as little as one to six days of overlap between opioids and benzodiazepines.

    Studies using state-level data have found that the Medicaid population is a high-risk group for death due to unintentional prescription opioid overdose. Information on individual-level risk factors for opioid overdose and death among Medicaid recipients is needed to help in targeting preventive measures.

    The new study provides evidence for several categories of risk factors for fatal in Medicaid members, including chronic pain, medical diagnoses associated with addiction, and mental health disorders. “The findings also emphasize potentially problematic opioid exposure including higher daily [doses] and longer durations of opioid/benzodiazepine overlap,” Dr. Pham and coauthors write.

    The researchers believe their study “may contribute to recommendations for establishing rational dose thresholds and use of benzodiazepines in clinical guidelines and government policies.” Other suggestions include the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and care coordination models to bring together the various specialists involved in patient care.

    Dr. Pham and coauthors also point out that approximately half of Oklahoma Medicaid patients who died of prescription drug during the study period did not have a covered prescription claim in the year before death. The researchers add: “This finding may represent the reality that some people were not eligible near the time of , implying that they obtained their through other insurance coverage, other forms of payment, or diversion.”


    Explore further:
    Overdose risk quintuples with opioid and benzodiazepine use

    More information:
    Timothy T. Pham et al, Overview of Prescription Opioid Deaths in the Oklahoma State Medicaid Population, 2012–2016, Medical Care (2018). DOI: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000944

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    Doctors back DeWine after he commits to keep Medicaid expansion



    COLUMBUS >> Ohio’s largest organization of doctors backed Attorney General Mike DeWine for governor Wednesday after the Republican committed to supporting — but improving — Medicaid expansion.

    The Ohio State Medical Association PAC cited DeWine’s stance favoring expansion of the government health insurance program in its endorsement. It also said it favors DeWine for his commitment to increasing treatment options for opioid addiction, lowering prescription drug costs and reducing physicians’ administrative burdens.

    DeWine said, as governor, his expansion would include a “reasonable work requirement,” wellness incentives and efforts to drive down drug prices.

    Marvin Rorick, who chairs the doctors’ PAC, said, “Mike DeWine is as dedicated to public service as a doctor is dedicated to their patients.”

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    Democrats immediately leaped on DeWine for reversing on the Medicaid expansion. They cited his repeated statements failing to support its continuation and ads DeWine aired during the primary campaign attacking the program.

    “DeWine spent more than a million dollars on television ads attacking John Kasich’s Medicaid expansion — which provides access to quality, affordable health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans,” said Robyn Patterson, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Democratic Party. “Ohioans know better than to trust Mike DeWine when it comes to saving on health care and putting money back in the pocket of the middle class.”

    DeWine won the GOP primary over Republican Gov. John Kasich’s lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor.

    Kasich, one of the expansion’s earliest and strongest advocates, said after DeWine’s victory that he was waiting to endorse DeWine until he got assurances he would continue the program.

    DeWine’s campaign responded that it would welcome Kasich’s endorsement, but he also said the government insurance program covering 700,000 low-income Ohioans was not financially sustainable.

    Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray, an expansion supporter, seized on the opportunity at the time to try to attract Kasich supporters.

    On Wednesday, Cordray said DeWine had “spent the last seven years attacking Medicaid expansion.”

    “His words today are more empty political promises from someone who has failed to protect Ohioans with pre-existing medical conditions, who has repeatedly attacked the Affordable Care Act, and who has put big drug companies ahead of the middle class,” Cordray said.

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