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DFA Round Up - October 6, 2017


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TAKE ACTION

Below are a few simple actions you can take to ensure our patients continue to receive the care the need. 

  • Sign this open letter and join in urging Congress to pass legislation that protects DACA recipients. This letter and submitted comments will be delivered to Congress in October.
  • Tell Congress to reauthorize funding for Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expired at the end of September and jeopardizes access to care for 9 million children:(202)-224-3121 
  • The Administration has cut open enrollment to a mere 45 days and made deep cuts in enrollment spending. Let's work together to fill the gap by making patients aware that enrollment begins November 1 and lasts through December 15,2017, for the 2018 coverage period. Follow @GetUSCovered and visit getamericacovered.org.
  • In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, DFA gun violence leaders penned this message urging doctors and medical students to call Congress and demand action to #EndGunViolence and #EndTheBan on gun research: (202)-224-3121 

ACA WEEK-AT-A-GLANCE

The Senate Finance Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a measure on Thursday to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) after funding expired last week. The bill approves more than $100 billion over five years for the program, which insures nearly nine million children and over 300,000 pregnant women. Though the Senate approved the bill swiftly, it was narrowly approved by the House Committee in a 28-23 vote along party lines. Democrats criticized the House Republican proposal to partially pay for CHIP by charging higher Medicare premiums to seniors earning more than $500,000. The House CHIP funding bill also modifies DSH allotments by eliminating the $2B cut for FY2018 and adding federal DSH cuts of $8B in FY2026 and FY2027 (currently set to expire in 2025). Over the past three years, Congress has passed legislation to delay reductions in Medicaid disproportionate share payments to hospitals.

Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is still pushing to make revisions and garner support for his plan to repeal-and-replace the Affordable Care Act; though, the Senate has not indicated that there will be a vote on an amended bill. The Senate GOP opted not to take a vote on the Cassidy-Graham bill last week. As the open enrollment period approaches, the CBO has estimated that four million fewer people will sign up for Obamacare private insurance, given administration policies and general confusion around whether the Affordable Care Act is still in effect, following numerous efforts to repeal-and-replace the law. This has led to a surge in grassroots efforts from navigator groups and private campaigns to raise awareness for open enrollment, especially given slashed advertising funding and a much shorter enrollment period.

Meanwhile, insurers still have no commitment from the administration regarding cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments or whether key elements of the law, like the individual mandate, will be enforced. This uncertainty has caused health insurers to aggressively increase prices next year for individual policies sold under the federal health law, with some raising premiums by more than 50 percent. The Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC)—a coalition of drugmakers, insurers and others in the health sector— is also urging Congress to take several bipartisan steps to help stabilize the individual insurance markets, in particular seeking a federal reinsurance program to provide money for state-led reinsurance programs. Bipartisan market stabilization negotiations are still ongoing, though the future of a short-term plan to lower Obamacare premiums is unclear.

Lastly, following the resignation of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, longtime HHS official Don J. Wright will be acting secretary. CMS Administrator Seema Verma is believed to be the leading choice to replace Price.

MEMBERS IN ACTION

Tell us about what you are up to! Email your updates and photos to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org.

National

  • Dr Priscilla Wang and Medical student Michelle Lough are leading a DACA petition with 367 signatures urging Congress to find a solution for our medical students and physicians who rely on the program.
  • DFA board member Shalini Pammal was interviewed by Healthline on the impacts ending the DACA program would have on medical students and physicians across the country.
  • Doctors for America led a sign on letter opposing the SHARE Act, which would drastically weaken current laws regulating the transfer and sale of firearm silencers. Thanks to the American Public Health Association, American Medical Women's Association, American Nurses Association and the Koop Institute for signing on.
  • Gun violence campaign leaders Dr Nina Agrawal and Medical student Justin Lowenthal were both interviewed on the gun violence research ban. You can read those interviews in STAT News and ThinkProgress.
  • DFA joined 480 organizations urging Senators Murray and Alexander to take a bipartisan approach to stabilizing the individual market. 

CALIFORNIA

USC DFA group in attendance at a rally on in defense of DACA in LA the day of the announcement. 

Alyssa Morse, 4th year medical student at University of Southern California - DFA member published a letter in The Signal of Santa Clarita on the harmful effects ACA repeal would have on patients.

"I am a 3rd year medical student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. My family and I are also your constituents in Valencia. I have spent most of my short medical career caring for patients at LAC+USC Medical Center, which is responsible for serving the low-income communities of East Los Angeles. Before Obamacare the majority of my patients were uninsured, and now because of your vote they have the most to lose."

Dr Pam Dyne a UCLA emergency medicine physician, spoke at a rally in Rep. Knight's district urging against ACA repeal.

NEW YORK

Medical student James Blum led DFA Mount Sinai students standing in solidarity with DACA.

DFA - New York co-sponsored and participated in a "Funeral March" in Times Square in NYC against the latest ACA repeal bill on Sept 23. 

Drs Bruce Rector and Katherine Scheirman joined @NYDocs coalition partners and planned a coordinated strategy to stop Graham-Cassidy.

OHIO

Dr Don Nguyen penned a piece in the Dayton Daily News, on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller Senate Bill.

“As a pediatric specialist, I worry about the funding for children on Medicaid. This new bill proposes per capita capping, block-granting Medicaid as funding to the states. This is a very bad idea — it will cut payments to children’s hospitals and providers and gives no consideration to how many children or disabled nursing home recipients this lump sum can cover. It will devastate children’s care, and therefore is completely unacceptable. It would repeal the important Medicaid expansion, which has been credited with saving lives of hard-working Americans and of opiate-addicted and mental-health patients.”

MASSACHUSETTS 

Drs Umbereen Nehal, Anish Mehta, and Stephanie Friend participated in a roundtable discussion with Senator Markey to discuss the impact Graham-Cassidy would have on their patients. 

 

Prescription Drug Value, Pricing, and Affordability

Maryland’s price gouging law is under threat by the pharmaceutical industry. Medical students Justin Lowenthal and Hussain Lalani worked to help with the passage of the law.

The California Legislature passed Senate Bill 17 that requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose the costs of price increases to the state. DFA-CA supported the bill while in the Legislature.

 

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