Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and other GOP leaders unveiled a new health law outline that would void a large portion of the Affordable Care Act, reported The New York Times. The outline features a reworked Medicaid program for the poor, tax breaks to help individuals pay physician bills, and federally subsidized state pools to assist individuals who have costly medical conditions with buying health insurance. According to the NY Times, lawmakers state that these ideas are just options, but many are considered controversial. One option would replace the tax increases in the ACA with new levies on the value of some employer-provided health plans, the NY Times reported.
Seema Verma, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CMS, seeks to address government health spending and the high cost of medications. According to The New York Times, Verma said that the approach pharmaceutical companies use to classify products as generic or branded products need to be reviewed to help address government spending. On Thursday, Verma did not address whether the US government should negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers over the cost of drugs.
The debate over whether to test presidents for dementia has emerged recently among physicians, particularly because President Trump is the oldest American president ever to take office, NPR reported. Trump’s longtime personal physician Dr Harold N. Bornstein told The New York Times that if appointed White House doctor, he most likely would not test the president for baseline dementia risk. According to NPR, President Trump has a family history of dementia, with his father having developed Alzheimer’s disease in his 80s. Dr Jacob Appel, a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine who has studied the health of politicians and presidents, said he is not completely sold on mandatory public screenings for presidents, because even with an external panel, the process would become highly politicized. Furthermore, objectively determining what level of impairment renders a candidate unfit for office comes into question. “As a colleague of mine says, ‘one candidate with half a brain may be better than the other candidate with a whole brain,’” Dr Appel told NPR. “I fear that baseline cognitive screening is a rather facile solution.”