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Why Painkiller Addiction and Abuse Are Rising Health-Care Priorities

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman uses new polling to explore why painkiller abuse and addiction is rising as a health issue among state and federal policymakers. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: November 2015

As the problem of prescription painkiller abuse has captured greater attention from policymakers and the media, the November Kaiser Health Tracking Poll explores the public’s connection to and knowledge of the issue, as well as their views of how to address it. A surprising 56 percent of the public say they have some personal connection to the issue – either because they say they know someone who has taken a prescription painkiller that wasn’t prescribed to them, know someone who has been addicted, or know someone who has died from a prescription painkiller overdose. While views of the health care law have been narrowly divided for much of the year, this month more say they have an unfavorable view of the law than a favorable one. The poll also includes views of the uninsured during the third open enrollment period under the health care law.

The Good and Bad of Those Ubiquitous Drug Ads

In this column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman examines the public’s mixed views about prescription drug ads and their impact on prescribing patterns, based on a new survey.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: October 2015

This month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that the affordability of prescription drugs continues to be at the top of the public’s priority list for the President and Congress, picked by majorities across political parties. Issues specific to the ACA, such as repealing provisions of the law or repealing the law entirely, fall much lower on the list. The survey also probes the public’s experiences with drug advertisements. A large majority (82%) report they’ve seen or heard such advertising, and 28 percent say they have talked with a doctor about a specific drug they saw advertised. Favorable and unfavorable views of the health care law are tied this month with 42 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable. Few uninsured (15 percent) are aware that the third ACA enrollment period begins in November, however many (49 percent) say they expect to get health insurance in the next few months despite the fact that about half (51 percent) say they have been uninsured for 2 years or more.

Medicaid Reforms to Expand Coverage, Control Costs and Improve Care: Results from a 50-State Medicaid Budget Survey for State Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016

This report provides an in depth examination of the changes taking place in state Medicaid programs across the country. The findings in this report are drawn from the 15th annual budget survey of Medicaid officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia conducted by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and Health Management Associates (HMA), with the support of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. This report highlights policy changes implemented in state Medicaid programs in FY 2015 and those planned for implementation in FY 2016 based on information provided by the nation’s state Medicaid Directors. Key areas covered include changes in eligibility and enrollment, delivery and payment system reforms, provider payment rates, and covered benefits (including prescription drug policies).