Healthcare Roundup—Trump oversells 'success' on VA health reforms; Elliot Health System plans $19M facility

Trump
President Donald Trump touted VA healthcare reforms in a speech Tuesday. (CSPAN)

Trump oversells 'success' on VA health reforms

President Donald Trump spoke at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention on Tuesday, and he touted the expanded Veterans Choice program passed in the MISSION Act.

"We passed Veterans Choice, the biggest thing ever," Trump said. "It has got to be the biggest improvement you can have. So now, if you can't get treatment in a timely manner—people used to wait two weeks, three weeks, eight weeks, they couldn't get to a doctor.

"You will have the right to see a private doctor immediately, and we will pay for it."

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However, the changes included in the MISSION Act haven't gone into effect yet and will take at least a year to be rolled out in full. In addition, only veterans who face a wait of 30 days or more to see a doctor at a Department of Veterans Affairs health facility are eligible. (The Associated Press)

Senate committee approves 'gag clauses' rule

A Senate health committee approved a bill which would ban pharmacy benefit managers from creating 'gag clauses' in their contracts which prevent pharmacists from helping patients save money.

The Trump administration's efforts to curb high prescription prices put a spotlight on the contract clauses in recent months. They essentially block pharmacists from telling patients when they could pay less for prescriptions by paying with cash rather than using their insurance.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. (The Hill)

Lifespan brings in temporary workers after nurses go on strike

Rhode Island-based Lifespan booked temporary healthcare workers to care for patients at Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children's Hospital after about 2,400 nurses and other employees went on strike Monday.

The nurses said they're not paid fairly and they often lack needed supplies. Lifespan, meanwhile, said it has offered wage increases of between 9% and 25% over the past four years, and that the nurses' union had pushed for higher raises.

Lifespan had to put the emergency room at Rhode Island Hospital on diversion after the strike began. It lifted diversion status within 24 hours of the temporary staff's arrival.

The strike will end Friday regardless of where contract negotiations stand. (The Associated Press)

Elliot Health System plans $19M cancer facility

New Hampshire-based Elliot Health System is planning to build a $19 million "one-stop" cancer facility at its campus in Manchester, with the goal of keeping patients in the state.

Patients often go to Massachusetts seeking cancer care, and the new facility will provide chemotherapy at Elliot Hospital, which previously had a cancer wing that offered only surgical and radiation therapies.

A portion of the current Elliot Hospital cancer ward will be torn down to make room for the 22,000-square-foot cancer center. (New Hampshire Union Leader)

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