HIV screenings no longer free at Health Department

June 6, 2017, The Clarion Ledger, Sarah Fowler- In the midst of an HIV epidemic, the state Department of Health will begin charging for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases testing. Effective July 1, the Health Department will begin charging a $25 fee for all STD and HIV tests and lab work at all of its clinics. That includes the department’s Five Points Clinic, which is home to Crossroads Clinic, the state’s STD clinic. The tests have been free. In the wake of legislative budget cuts, the increase is hitting at the same time Mississippi is suffering from sharp rises in sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis. Jackson ranks fourth in the U.S. in per-capita HIV infections. A recent study by Emory University found that four out of 10 gay or bisexual men in Jackson are infected with the AIDS virus - the highest in the nation.

Legislature passes funding bills, wraps up special session in a day

June 5, 2017, The Clarion Ledger, Jimmy E. Gates and Geoff Pender- Lawmakers worked into the night on Monday and finished a special session in one day, an effort to spare taxpayers more expenses that can run upwards of $100,000 a day when lawmakers are working at the Capitol. The House and Senate passed funding bills for the attorney general’s office, State Aid roads and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The transportation budgets died in a standoff between GOP leaders of the House and Senate over road and bridge funding and internet sales taxes. An 11th-hour snag over what Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood called “juvenile games” with his budget also left the AG budget in limbo after the regular three-month legislative session ended March 29.

About those regulations promoting healthy eating? Never mind

June 4, 2017,St. Louis Dispatch, Editorial Board- Perhaps taking a cue from the boss’s taste in food, the Trump administration has begun dismantling Obama-era regulations intended to help Americans eat healthier. The rationale isn’t quite clear for the reckless process now afoot. It might be argued that nutritional rules are a product of the nanny state. But America has an obesity epidemic, particularly with its children. This is a fact, like global warming, that the Trump administration prefers to ignore. Some of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s school-lunch reforms are being changed, and calorie-labeling rules for restaurants were halted last month just days before they were to take effect.

Healthcare adds 24,300 jobs in May as Senate mulls ACA repeal bill

June 2, 2017, Modern Healthcare, Maria Castellucci- The healthcare industry reported another month of strong job growth in May, outpacing the rest of the economy in hiring. The healthcare industry was among the nation’s top generators of jobs last month, with 24,300 new hires in May, according to the most recent jobs report issued Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Payroll creation in healthcare was solid last month even as overall job growth fell below expectations. The economy added 138,000 non-farm jobs which dissappointed analysts who predicted about 185,000 jobs would be produced.

Insurance companies duck Obamacare repeal fight

June 3, 2017, Politico, Paul Demko- The once-powerful health insurance lobby - the same one that killed Hillarycare a generation ago and helped usher in Obamacare - can’t pick a side in the latest battle over America’s health care system. Some major members of the sprawling trillion-dollar industry, like Humana and Cigna, have little at stake in the fight. Other insurers heavily invested in the Obamacare markets, like the regional Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, are urging Congress to fix the 2010 health law instead of shredding it. And then there’s Anthem, a rare industry voice supporting repeal.

GOP senator: Healthcare deal unlikely this year

June 2, 2017, The Hill, Jessie Hellmann- Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says he doesn’t think Congress is going to reach a deal to repeal and replace ObamaCare. “It’s unlikely that we will get a healthcare deal,” Burr said in an interview with a North Carolina news station Thursday.  “I don’t see a comprehensive healthcare plan this year.”  The leading Republican senator also said the House bill was “dead on arrival,” adding that it was “not a good plan.” The Senate has been working on a healthcare bill since the House passed its own last month, and Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) said a bill would pass through the chamber by “the end of July at the latest.” But there are deep divisions on issues such as how to handle the Medicaid expansion and ObamaCare’s insurer regulations, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has lowered expectations.