This week, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams released a new “spotlight” report on opioid addiction, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids, which calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the opioid crisis and recommends actions that can prevent and treat opioid misuse and promote recovery. The Spotlight also provides the latest data on prevalence of substance misuse, opioid misuse, opioid use disorder, and overdoses. And, in case you missed it, this week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also awarded over $1 billion in opioid-specific grants to states to help combat the crisis. The awards support HHS's Five-Point Opioid Strategy, which was launched last year and enhanced this week.
As southern coastal states prepared for hurricane Florence this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared public health emergencies in North and South Carolina and Virginia. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it is working to keep hospitals and other health care facilities open and running and has also waived certain Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program requirements. We are thinking of all those effected by the storm and the folks in state government working hard to ensure the safety of people in their state.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was back in court this week in two separate cases. On Wednesday, oral arguments were presented in Texas v. Azar, a lawsuit brought by state attorneys general in 20 states who are seeking a preliminary injuction against some or all of the ACA. The Kaiser Health News podcast What the Health? opens this week with an analysis of the case (starts at 1:06). Also this week, a federal judge ruled that the Montana Health Co-Op is entitled to $5.2 million that it would have received in the final quarter of 2017 if the Trump administration had not eliminated cost sharing reduction payments. The implications of this decision are discussed in a Health Affairs blog post by Katie Keith.