House and Senate lawmakers have voted to approve a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that would keep the federal government open through September, sending the legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature. The bill did not include provisions to fund cost-sharing reduction payments and state reinsurance programs.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the administration is considering adding exemptions to the Affordable Care Act tax penalty for people who failed to buy health insurance this year, but she didn't provide specific details. The tax law that passed last year repeals the penalty for going uninsured, but the change won't take effect until 2019.
A bill introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., would boost financial assistance to enrollees in the individual market and guarantee that no one would have to direct more than 8.5% of their income toward premiums. The bill also would cap out-of-pocket prescription costs, and it would require companies that bid on Medicare Advantage and Medicaid contracts to offer ACA plans in areas with limited competition.
The South Carolina Department of Insurance now allows parents to bring their infants to work, as long as it does not become disruptive, and has dedicated a private space as a quiet room for them. Director Ray Farmer says the program can help parents bond with their infants and will help with employee retention.
A bill being considered by the New York City Council would ban employers with more than 10 employees from requiring workers to deal with work-related communications outside of normal business hours. Business groups said the bill is too broad but Councilman Rafael Espinal said, "It's important for workers to be able to draw a line between their work lives and personal lives."
A study linked higher levels of exercise with a reduced risk of death, and it did not matter how long people exercised at a given time, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association. People who appeared to benefit most got from 7.5 to 12.5 hours of moderate exercise weekly.
The rate of US singleton babies with low birth weight rose from 6.24% in 2014 to 6.34% in 2015 and 6.44% in 2016, following a steady decline between 2006 and 2014, due to higher rates of infants with moderately low birth weight from 2014 to 2016, according to a CDC study in the agency's National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief. Researchers also found that low and moderately low birth weight prevalence increased across all races from 2014 to 2016, and blacks had a more than two times higher low birth weight rate between 2006 and 2016, compared with whites.
A series of papers published in The Lancet found many people with lower back pain get inappropriate tests and treatments. Researchers said patients are seen in hospital emergency departments, get referred for tests or surgery, and are prescribed pain medications, when most would respond to simple physical and psychological treatments that keep them active.
Seventy-two percent of respondents to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey said that the pharmaceutical industry has too much influence on federal policy, and 80% say drug prices are too high. More than half said the Trump administration should make drug prices a top priority, but only 39% believed that the White House will bring about change.
Endo International, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Teikoku Seiyaku agreed to pay about $271 million, subject to court approval, to settle allegations that the drugmakers illegally conspired to delay market entry of a generic version of Endo's Lidoderm patch.
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