policy and politics

When U.S. officials feared an outbreak of the Zika virus last year, the Department of Health and Human Services and state officials kicked into high gear.

They tested mosquitoes neighborhood by neighborhood in Miami and other hot Gulf Coast communities where the virus was likely to flourish. They launched outreach campaigns to encourage people to use bug spray. And they pushed the development of a vaccine.

Updated 5:56 p.m. ET

Senate Republicans now plan to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as part of a tax overhaul bill.

Several Senate Republicans said Tuesday that including the repeal in tax legislation, currently making its way through a key Senate committee, would allow them to further reduce tax rates for individuals without adding more to the deficit.

Some States Roll Back 'Retroactive Medicaid,’ A Buffer For The Poor

Nov 14, 2017

If you’re poor, uninsured and fall seriously ill, in most states if you qualify for Medicaid — but weren’t enrolled at the time — the program will pay your medical bills going back three months. It protects hospitals, too, from having to absorb the costs of caring for these patients.

Indiana Officials Line Up Against Medical Marijuana

Nov 14, 2017
O'Dea / wikimedia commons

Despite a push from some Indiana legislators to legalize marijuana as an alternative to opioid pain medications, government officials — including the state’s governor himself — say they won’t support efforts to legalize medical pot.

Updated at 1:48 p.m. ET

President Trump is nominating a former pharmaceutical executive to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that, among other things, regulates prescription drugs.

The nomination comes at a time when rising drug prices have become a hot political issue.

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The opioid commission chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered a long list of recommendations to President Trump yesterday in its final report on the nation's opioid crisis. And we have more from NPR's Greg Allen.

Rock and Enroll: Open Enrollment Questions, Answered

Nov 1, 2017
healthcare.gov

Nov. 1 marks the first day of 2018 open enrollment, the period in which people can sign up for insurance through healthcare.gov. The Affordable Care Act has been through the legislative wringer this year, and there are plenty of changes this period for people buying insurance on the marketplace. WFIU’s Becca Costello and Side Effects’ Sarah Fentem answer some open enrollment questions — with the help of some policy experts.

Sarah Fentem / Side Effects Public Media

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act exchange starts this week. But customers shopping for 2018 plans may not get as much help as they have in previous years.


Julie Eldred has been struggling with addiction to opioids for more than a decade and she says the criminal justice system punishes her for it.

Eldred, a part-time pet caretaker in Acton, Mass., was put on probation last year for theft. She knew staying drug-free would be tough — especially at first, when she was going through opioid withdrawal. But, she says, she didn't have much of a choice.

President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday, freeing up resources to deal with the epidemic.

Last year, more than 64,000 people died from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Many of those overdoses were from heroin, prescription painkillers, fentanyl and other opioids.

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