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HEALTH CARE NEWS

US Congress extends CHIP, funds opioid crisis response following temporary shutdown

Publish date: February 9, 2018

By 

Gregory Twachtman 

Oncology Practice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress, despite a second shutdown in less than a month, was able to pass a number of financial extenders to fund key health care programs.

The bipartisan spending bill (H.R. 1892), passed in the early morning hours on Feb. 9 by a 71-28 vote in the Senate (16 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted against it, and Sen. John McCain [R-Ariz.] was not present) and a 240-186 vote in the House (67 Republicans and 119 Democrats voted against and 5 representatives did not vote). President Trump signed the bill later that morning.

 

The spending bill and continuing resolution to fund the government through March 23 includes $6 billion to fund treatment for opioid addiction and other mental health issues, $2 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health, and 4 additional years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The additional CHIP funding extends the program for a total of 10 years.

The funding bill also made a technical correction to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) track of the Medicare Quality Payment Program. It removes Part B drug reimbursement from the MIPS payment adjustment, so any positive or negative change to physician payments based on the MIPS score will only be applied to physician fee schedule payments.

The bill also repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel created by the Affordable Care Act that would have the power to slash Medicare spending under certain budget circumstances. That board was never convened.

The funding legislation also accelerates closure of the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” the coverage gap in which beneficiaries must pay 100% of medication costs prior to entering catastrophic coverage.

Just over $7 billion was provided for community health centers and Medicare’s therapy caps were repealed.

While the funding bill was written in the Senate with bipartisan input and received bipartisan support, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held up votes over objections to the more than $1 trillion it will add to the nation’s debt, as well as for the fact that there was no opportunity to introduce and vote on amendments, leading to an hours-long government shutdown.

There also were concerns about two issues that could have derailed the vote in the House. Democrats wanted to add language to address immigrants brought to this nation illegally as children, while some Republicans did not want to increase the federal debt. However, there were enough votes to pass the funding legislation.

gtwachtman@frontlinemedcom.com

Exposure to Low Levels of BPA During Pregnancy Can Lead to Altered Brain Development

Drotumdi O

Exposure to Low Levels of BPA During Pregnancy Can Lead to Altered Brain Development

Article ID: 691087

Released: 14-Mar-2018 11:05 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Endocrine Society

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ENDO 2018, Mar-2018

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Children's Health, Cognition and Learning, Mental Health, Neuro, Local - DC, Local - DC Metro, Medical Meetings

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CHICAGO—New research in mice provides an explanation for how exposure to the widely used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy, even at levels lower than the regulated “safe” human exposure level, can lead to altered brain development and behavior later in life. The research will be presented Monday, March 19 at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, Ill.

BPA is a chemical that is added to many commercial products, including water bottles, paper receipts, can liners and food storage containers. It is known as an endocrine-disrupting chemical—a chemical that interferes with the body’s hormones.

“Decades of research in over 1,000 animal and 100 human epidemiological studies have demonstrated a link between BPA exposure and adverse health outcomes,” said lead researcher Deborah Kurrasch, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Calgary in Calgary, Canada. “This is especially true for the developing brain, which is particularly sensitive to the estrogen-promoting effects of BPA during gestation. Indeed, several human studies have now correlated early life BPA exposure with behavioral problems later in childhood, suggesting BPA permanently alters brain development that leads to lasting effects on neural functioning.”

Governmental agencies around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, and European Food Safety Authority, declare BPA to be safe. “One reason for this disparity is the absence of a smoking gun: if BPA is so toxic to developing brains, then where is the evidence of defective brains?” Kurrasch said. “Our study is the first to use environmentally relevant doses of BPA and show exposure to the chemical during brain development can affect the timing of the birth of nerve cells, or neurons.”

The researchers studied three groups of pregnant mice. One group ate food without BPA; a second group at food with high doses of BPA; and a third ate low-dose BPA food. They found an increase in the number of neurons created during early development in mouse pups exposed to high and low doses of BPA during pregnancy, compared with those not exposed to BPA.

“This is important because specific neurons are known to be born at a very distinct time points, and if they are born early—as is the case here—then presumably these early neurons will migrate to the wrong place and form the wrong connections. These findings start to provide a rationale as to how BPA might affect developing brains,” Kurrasch said.

Siblings to these pups were given behavioral tests to assess whether the early birth of neurons led to changes that affected brain function later in life. The researchers found mice that were exposed to BPA-high and BPA-low food during gestation exhibited some behaviors that match those observed in human children whose mothers had high levels of BPA during pregnancy. “These findings suggest that gestational exposure to BPA can lead to lasting and permanent changes in the brain,” Kurrasch said.

“The public is becoming well educated on the debate surrounding BPA safety, as well as other chemicals,” she noted. “Although there is still work to be done to translate these rodent effects to human pregnancy, this research could provide expectant mothers with important information on what to avoid to best protect their babies.” 

This research will be presented during a webcast press conference at 10 a.m. Central on Saturday, March 17.

# # #

Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

 

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