ACHP Media Monitoring Report: March 29, 2017

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GOP plans to revisit ACA repeal
The Trump administration and Republican leaders in the House are laying the groundwork for another attempt at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). White House advisor Stephen Bannon is leading talks on a compromise bill between conservatives and moderates in the House. A Morning Consult/Politico poll released today finds more than 60 percent of Republican voters favor health care reform efforts; more than half of all voters believe Congress should move onto other issues.

Call for market stabilization
Senate Health Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is pushing for Congress to move quickly to stabilize the individual marketplace. According to a Washington Post column by Steven Brill, if the administration and Congress wanted to stabilize the market, they could appropriate funds to reimburse insurers for waiving deductibles and co-pays for low-income consumers as well as support the risk corridor program.

Red State Legislatures explore Medicaid expansion
In what could be a national shift, a number of states that initially rejected Medicaid expansion under the ACA are now considering the program. The Kansas state legislature voted last night to expand Medicaid despite the threat of a veto from Governor Sam Brownback (R). Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) has promised to renew efforts in the state legislature. Georgia’s Republican Governor and North Carolina are also weighing changes to their Medicaid programs.

McCaskill investigates opioid manufacturers 
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is scrutinizing the role drug manufacturers played in the opioid epidemic. McCaskill sent letters to the top five sellers of prescription painkillers, demanding internal studies about the addictive properties of opioids, copies of marketing material and records of donations to advocacy groups. A report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found a surge in premature deaths for 25-44 year-olds in 2015 was driven largely by drug overdoses. Most of these deaths are occurring in low-income, rural counties, and patients often lack access to treatment due to high uninsured rates. States that did not expand Medicaid disproportionately bear the brunt of the opioid epidemic.

Trump administration proposes $1.23 billion in cut to NIH
Research backed by the NIH could be facing $1.23 billion in funding cuts, including $50 million from funding for IDeA grants, which help spread biomedical research geographically across the U.S. The rest, nearly $1.2 billion, would more broadly reduce research grant funding. The mental health block grants administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would also be cut by $100 million under the White House proposal. For more on proposed cuts, see Bloomberg’s report here.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is scheduled to appear before the House Committee on Appropriations today to talk about the budget proposal for his department.