health care

Needle exchange programs getting underway in TN after recent legislative authorization bills

Health officials say a new needle exchange program in Johnson City will be only the second of its kind in Tennessee and will help limit infections spread by the increasing rate of intravenous drug use in the area, according to the Johnson City Press.

The report comes after the legislature has, without much media attention, moved to authorize more needle exchange programs statewide. The 110th General Assembly approved two bills on the subject – one in 2017 that allows private and nonprofit organizations to run needle exchange programs subject to Department of Health approval, and another this year that lets all local governments do the same, again subject to DOH approval.

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Doctor who advised TN legislature decries ‘overzealous’ raid on home, offices

The Johnson City home of Dr. Tom Reach, an addiction treatment physician who has been involved in developing Tennessee legislation, and the eight recovery centers he operates in Virginia and Tennessee were raided Wednesday by federal agents, reports the Johnson City Press. Reach says the action was an “overzealous” move tied to the “current political environment” —  and noted several local politicians have visited his facilities.

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Legislature mandates that state health insurance cover experimental cancer treatment

An experimental cancer treatment has won a rare endorsement from the Tennessee legislature despite some criticism, reports WPLN. The measure requires insurance coverage of proton therapy, which benefits a Knoxville-based company that is building a treatment center in Franklin.

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GOP legislators spurned renewed Haslam pitch for Medicaid expansion in private meeting

Gov.  Bill Haslam asked Republican legislative leaders earlier this month if they would reconsider Medicaid expansion legislation, which was rejected when he initially proposed the idea three years ago, reports The Tennessean. House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally were open to discussing the idea but others were not and the notion was dropped.

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Push for passage of medical marijuana bill abandoned for 4th consecutive year

Sponsors of the “Medical Cannabis Act” gave up their push for passage of the bill for 2018 on Tuesday, acknowledging there’s no enough support for legalizing use of marijuana derivatives in medications among colleagues in the General Assembly.

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Alexander angry, exasperated over collapse of latest attempted Obamacare fix

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s latest attempt to stabilize the nation’s health care insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, collapsed last week in partisan squabbling over abortion, reports Michael Collins. There was an accompanying “flurry of finger-pointing and bitter charges by each side that the other was playing politics.”

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Medical marijuana bill watered down, still stalled

The House sponsor of a bill to allow Tennesseans’ use of medical cannabis performed major surgery on the legislation in a committee Wednesday, discarding a number of controversial provisions in an effort to soften opposition. But the Times Free Press reports there was still opposition even after the bill’s scope was substantially reduced and a vote was put off for another week.

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Alexander, other Republicans float new Obamacare fix

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2018 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Representative Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) today proposed legislation that would lower individual health insurance premiums in the individual market up to 40% and said that it should be included in the Omnibus spending bill Congress will consider this week.

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TN attorney general joins new Republican-led lawsuit seeking to end Obamacare

Republican attorneys general in 20 states, including Tennessee, have filed a new lawsuit asking the courts to overturn the Affordable Care Act, reports WPLN. The lawsuit filed in Texas on Monday contends that without the individual mandate, Obamacare is unconstitutional.

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Black, husband criticized for lobbying against medical marijuana bill

Medical marijuana legislation sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison is hitting a hurdle with gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Diane Black opposing it and her husband trying to kill the measure, according to the Tennessee Ledger. Her husband says his actions are in the public interest and not for any financial gain by his company.

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