Trending News Today: Senate Approves 2 Bills to Improve Healthcare for Veterans

Top news of the day from across the healthcare landscape.

Although nusinersen (Spinraza) was approved in December 2016 for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), many patients have faced difficulties accessing treatment due to the high price tag, according to Kaiser Health News. Nusinersen is the first drug approved to slow the progression of SMA, which causes muscle weakness and can result in patients being unable to sit, stand, or breathe. Since the drug costs $750,000 for 1 year of treatment, private and public insurers have debated which patients should receive treatment, according to the article.

GOP lawmakers appear to be more willing to work with Democrats on a bipartisan effort to stabilize the individual insurance exchanges. Yesterday, Sen Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he would seek legislation to extend subsidies provided to lower-income Americans for health insurance, according to The New York Times. Sen John Coryn (R-TX) also said that bipartisan actions would likely be a better approach to healthcare reform. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that they would not be able to end filibusters of the legislation, as President Donald Trump wants, due to a lack of votes, the Times reported.

The Senate recently approved a pair of bills that aim to address the budget crisis and a backlog of disability claims currently facing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), according to The New York Times. The budget bill provides an additional $2.1 billion for the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to receive private care under certain circumstances. An additional $1.8 billion would be applied to VA health programs and leases for new medical facilities, according to the article. The other bill would reduce the time it takes for the VA to address appeals from veterans challenging their disability payments.