Legislative & Regulatory Developments

 

California

Legislative Budget Conference Committee On Sunday June 9th, California lawmakers held a joint budget committee meeting to iron out the budget bill to be passed and sent to the Governor’s desk on June 15th. Highlights of the budget bill, which must will pass on June 15, include:

 

  • Expansion of the Medi-Cal program to low-income young adults, ages 19 to 25, regardless of immigration status. Undocumented individuals were previously only eligible for emergency and pregnancy related services and full youth scope services up to age 19. Legislators caved to the Governor’s request to make adults up to 25 years of age eligible; legislators had wanted to cover all adults.
  • Covered California subsidies for individuals with incomes up to 600% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Federal subsidies only cover those with incomes up to 400% FPL. Because of the high cost of coverage in California, increasing numbers of individuals have decided to forgo health insurance altogether.
  • See California Channel to view the full hearing.

More information on health policy items included in the budget will be made public when the final budget bill is passed and signed later this week.

Federal

ONC Interoperability Comments Over 2000 individuals and organizations responded to ONC’s proposed rule on interoperability, which would establish an ONC certification program. Read comments here.

News Articles, Research & Reports

Report: “Positive disruption: health and education in a digital age” Findings from the Oxford University Pathways to Prosperity Commission’s report suggest technology can improve service delivery in developing countries by boosting production at the point of delivery, improving interconnectivity within the health system, and allowing for more effective delivery designs. Opportunities detailed in the report include the use of virtual systems which “break down the walls of clinics” to bring quality healthcare to remote locations. Read more here.

Research: “Impact of Availability of Telehealth Programs on Documented HIV Viral Suppression” A cluster-randomized study discovered higher HIV suppression rates among VA patients offered specialty telehealth consultations. “Our findings describe the impact of HIV telehealth programs implemented as quality improvement programs in real-world settings, and are most relevant to other urban HIV clinics that serve patients who travel long distances to clinic from outlying suburban and rural areas,” the researchers wrote. Read more here.

Research: “Closed-loop digital meditation improves sustained attention in young adults” A new UCSF study, published in Nature Human Behavior, reveals that UCSF’s closed-loop digital meditation platform, MediTrain, helps to improve and sustain young adults’ attention spans.“Media and technology multitasking have become pervasive in the lives of young adults and research has shown that this behavior is associated with challenges to their attention abilities that present as increased distractibility, diminished attention span, poorer academic performance and reduced personal contentment,” write the study’s authors. Read more here.

News: Anthem to acquire Beacon Health Options Anthem plans to acquire Beacon Health Options from Bain Capital and Diamond Castle Holdings in a bid to integrate behavioral health offerings that include telehealth access to expand “whole person care” for its plan members. Read more here.

 

Funding Opportunities

Use of Technology to Enhance Patient Outcomes and Prevent Illness (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) NIH seeks proposals on the use of technologies, including remote healthcare, that improve patient outcomes. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) NIH seeks proposals on exploratory developmental research to improve Native American health. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Pragmatic Research in Healthcare Settings to Improve Diabetes and Obesity Prevention and Care (R18 Clinical Trial Required): NIH seeks proposals that test innovative approaches to diabetes and obesity prevention. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Planning Grants for Pragmatic Research in Healthcare Settings to Improve Diabetes and Obesity Prevention and Care (R34 Clinical Trial Required): NIH seeks proposals for pilot projects that test innovative approaches to diabetes and obesity prevention. Ongoing standard NIH application dates.

Upcoming Hearings

June 11th: California Assembly Health Committee bill hearing (1:30 p.m.). Includes SB 24 which earmarks startup funding for college medical abortion programs delivered through telehealth.