Trending News Today: Opioid Lawsuit Garners Federal Support

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The quality of health care in any given state may soon depend upon which party is in control, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. As congressional efforts have eased many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), several aspects of the law are falling on states to decide. These efforts include decreasing outreach programs, repealing the unpopular individual mandate, and increasing opportunities for insurers to provide scaled-back “skinny” health plans. As a result, the WSJ reports that many Republican-controlled states have aggressively rolled back provisions of the law, while Democrat-controlled states have moved to strengthen the ACA.

The Justice Department said it will support hundreds of lawsuits filed on the local level against the manufacturers and distributors of opioid painkillers for their role in spurring the ongoing epidemic, according to ABC News. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the department will file a statement of interest in the suits with the argument that the government has carried substantial costs as a result of the opioid epidemic. Thus far, the suits have targeted manufacturers such as Allergan, Johnson & Johnson, and Purdue Pharma, as well as distribution companies Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. "It's a game-changer," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told ABC News regarding the involvement of the Justice Department. "It's a real realization of what has been going on."

Few Medicaid enrollees whose earnings surpass the poverty level are paying the $13 monthly premium fees, according to a report in Kaiser Health News. Tens of thousands of enrollees across 5 states—Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Montana—have failed to make premium payments after gaining enrollment through the expansion of the program under the ACA. “We believe the premiums are important to prepare these beneficiaries for what would be required of them if they move up the economic ladder and get coverage through an employer or the federal marketplace,” Arkansas Medicaid spokeswoman Amy Webb told KHN. “It’s a small amount, especially considering the benefit they are receiving. Under an employer or at the marketplace, they would lose their coverage for failure to pay.”