Congress Delays Budget Decision Yet Again



The article discusses Congress narrowly avoiding a federal government shutdown, with difficulty maintaining funding for the federal government expected to persist into 2024 due to political disagreements over spending cuts. It also highlights investigations into the increasing financial burden of long-term care for seniors and allegations of insurance companies using artificial intelligence algorithms to deny necessary rehabilitation care for Medicare patients. Lastly, the article emphasizes ongoing political debates and legal battles over abortion rights and restrictions, the potential misuse of AI in healthcare, and concerns about loss of Medicaid coverage for millions of people.

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Thanks to House Democrats, Congress was able to prevent a second federal government shutdown. However, funding won’t get easier when the latest temporary patches expire in early 2024, especially with House Republicans still striving for steep spending cuts despite Democrat-controlled Senate and White House.

Investigations from KFF Health News and The New York Times, and Stat, highlighted the challenges in obtaining long-term care for seniors and how AI is used by some insurers to deny necessary rehabilitation care for Medicare patients. This week’s panelists include Julie Rovner of KFF Health News, Rachel Cohrs of Stat, Joanne Kenen of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Politico Magazine, and Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico.

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This week’s key takeaways:

  • Congress passed a continuing resolution to prevent a federal government shutdown. The new measure extends some current spending levels, including FDA funding, through Jan. 19.
  • New efforts in abortion rights are emerging in Ohio and Michigan, arguing that when Dobbs turned this decision back to states, it meant to the state legislatures — not to the courts or voters.
  • A class-action lawsuit in California claims that UnitedHealth Group is using algorithms to deny rehabilitation care to its Medicare Advantage program enrollees.
  • Over 10 million people have lost Medicaid coverage since states began reviewing eligibility earlier this year.

For “extra credit,” the panelists recommend health policy stories worth reading this week:

Julie Rovner recommends “How Lawmakers in Texas and Florida Undermine Covid Vaccination Efforts.”

Alice Miranda Ollstein suggests “They Wanted to Get Sober. They Got a Nightmare Instead.”

Rachel Cohrs points to “UnitedHealth Pushed Employees to Follow an Algorithm to Cut Off Medicare Patients’ Rehab Care.”

Joanne Kenen mentions “Mississippi Jailed More Than 800 People Awaiting Psychiatric Treatment in a Year. Just One Jail Meets State Standards.”

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