Health Highlights: May 1, 2017
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Trump Administration May Roll Back Michelle Obama's School Meal Initiative
Nutrition standards for federally subsidized school meals -- many spearheaded by former First Lady Michelle Obama -- may be changed by the Trump administration.
The move was expected to be announced Monday afternoon by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in his first major act in the Cabinet, the Associated Press reported.
The new rule will provide "regulatory flexibility," the Agriculture Department said ahead of the announcement. It did not reveal the specific changes.
Many of the current standards are unworkable and need to be rolled back, according to the School Nutrition Association, which represents school nutrition directors and companies that sell food to schools, the AP reported.
For example, the group says it's difficult to provide foods that are high enough in whole grains and low enough in sodium but appeal to students. The group also sought more flexibility in rules that that require kids to eat fruits and vegetables, saying those foods often get thrown away.
Nevada Bill Aims to Limit Insulin Costs
A bill to force drug companies to reveal how they set insulin prices and to issue refunds if yearly price increases exceed inflation is expected to pass in both houses of Nevada's Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval told The Associated Press that he has not ruled out signing the bill.
The first vote on the bill is expected in early May. It seeks to limit how much employers and insurers pay for insulin. It's also hoped the bill caps diabetics' out-of-pockets costs near current levels -- typically $50 to $600 per month, depending on their insurance coverage.
If the bill is passed, Nevada would become the first U.S. state to to mandate detailed release of drug makers' proprietary information and to have a price control on prescription drugs through the refund plan, the AP reported.
The bill reflects public outrage over price hikes on common prescription medicines such as insulin and antibiotics, according to Steve Brozak, president of New Jersey-based WBB Securities investment banking firm, which specializes in health care.
However, he and other industry experts said drug companies are likely to launch lawsuits against the bill and that it may not achieve its intended effect.
"I don't think this will work in the way people think it will, but this could be the shot across the bow," Brozak told the AP.
In Florida Deal, Trump Cuts Back on Key Obamacare Provision
In a deal with Florida, the Trump administration dropped a major way of encouraging states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
The change involves federal government funding to help hospitals with the cost of caring for low-income people without insurance, The New York Times reported.
Under the agreement with Florida, the Trump administration has tentatively agreed to provide additional money for the state's "low-income pool."
This is a reversal from the Obama administration, which wouldn't provide more money to help hospitals cover the costs of "uncompensated care" for people who could be covered by Medicaid. By expanding Medicaid eligibility, there would be fewer uninsured people and hospitals would have to provide less uncompensated care, according to the Obama administration, The Times reported.
Under the previous administration, the Florida low-income pool fell from $1 billion to $608 million a year. That will increase to $1.5 billion a year under the new agreement, federal and state officials said.
Anti-Abortion Activist Given Senior HHS Post
A prominent anti-abortion activist will be given a senior position in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
White House officials said Charmaine Yoest will serve as assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS, the Associated Press reported.
From 2008 until February 2016, Yoest was president of Americans United for Life, which campaigned at the federal and state level for strict restrictions on abortion. Yoest actively supported Trump in his campaign for the White House.
Yoest's appointment was slammed by abortion-rights groups.
"Charmaine Yoest has spent her whole professional life opposing access to birth control and a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, the AP reported.
"While President Trump claims to empower women, he is appointing government officials who believe just the opposite," she added.
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