IHA Daily Briefing: April 11

Call Your State Rep Now: Vote NO or Present on HB 2604
Lawmakers Hold Drug Price Hearing
Coming Soon: HRSA Rural MAT Grant
Antibiotics Prescribed More in Telemedicine Visits

Call Your State Rep Now: Vote NO or Present on HB 2604
A vote is imminent in the Illinois House on House Bill (HB) 2604 that would impose mandatory nurse staffing ratios in hospitals.  A vote could be taken as soon as Friday morning.

Representatives need to hear from their hospitals that they strongly oppose nurse staffing ratios and that they should vote No or Present on HB 2604. Call your state Representative in Springfield – especially if he/she is a Democrat – and urge him/her to vote No or Present on HB 2604.  Even if you have called or emailed your Representative previously, please call him/her again.

To look up your Representative and his/her Springfield office contact information, click here (fill in the zip code box under “Find Politicians/Look Up and Contact Your Officials” in the right hand column of the webpage).

See IHA’s new fact sheet, which includes a list of organizations opposing nurse staffing ratios.

Lawmakers Hold Drug Price Hearings
The U.S. Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing today on the rising cost of insulin. Witnesses at the hearing, entitled "Priced Out of a Lifesaving Drug: Getting Answers on the Rising Cost of Insulin," included manufacturers of insulin and pharmacy benefit manufacturers (PBMs).

During the hearing, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) told pharmaceutical company witnesses that Congress is committed to getting drug prices under control, and that she supports legislation to hold manufacturers accountable for their pricing. Nearly 7.5 million Americans rely on insulin, which has spiked in price from approximately $20 per vial to over $250 per vial over the past two decades.

Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing scrutinizing the top five PBMs on their use of rebates from drug manufacturers. Also this week, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up a bill requiring drug manufacturers whose prices exceed a certain threshold to justify them in writing. The legislation would require these written justifications to be published online.

Coming Soon: HRSA Rural MAT Grant
The U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) announced yesterday that it will soon be releasing a funding opportunity for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) expansion as part of its new Rural Communities Opioid Response Program initiative. Award recipients will receive up to $750,000 for a three-year period, $8 million total, to establish or expand medication-assisted treatment in eligible hospitals, health clinics, or tribal organizations located in high-risk rural communities.

Details about the funding opportunity can be found in a press release. According to HRSA, the grant will be posted in the next few weeks.

Antibiotics Prescribed More in Telemedicine Visits
Findings released from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study show that children who were seen via telemedicine were more likely to be overprescribed antibiotics for colds, sinus infections and sore throats than in-person primary care or urgent care providers.

The researchers compared antibiotic prescribing practices from the billing data of 4,604 telemedicine visits, 38,408 urgent care visits, and 485,201 primary care visits for children up to 17 years old with respiratory infections. They found that children were more likely to receive prescriptions for antibiotics during telemedicine visits (52%), compared to urgent care visits (42%) and visits with primary care providers (31%). Clinical guidelines for antibiotic prescriptions were less likely to be followed after telemedicine visits (59%), compared to urgent care (67%) or primary care visits (78%).

The NIH says that it is important that clinical guidelines for prescribing antibiotics be followed to help prevent drug resistance.