Brainstorm Health: Children’s Health Insurance, Digital Health VC Funding, Trump Drug Czar

October 17, 2017, 3:10 PM UTC

Good morning, readers! This is Sy.

It’s a busy day here at Fortune so I’ll have to keep things brief.

The Trump administration’s moves on Obamacare last week—including the decision to stop paying subsidies meant to lower low-income enrollees’ out-of-pocket medical costs to insurance companies—have dominated health care headlines. But another major national health program continues to languish in Congress, The Hill reports. And it’s one that provides health insurance for some nine million low- to middle-income children.

It’s called the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and funding for it technically expired at the end of September (although states do have enough money to keep it going for a couple of months). Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats have stalled even though the program enjoys broad bipartisan support over the all-important issue of funding, with Democrats balking at proposals cut an Obamacare public health fund to finance an extension of CHIP. Top Republican lawmakers say that Democrats have yet to make a counteroffer on how to fund the program.

Read on for the day’s news.


Health IT and digital health VC funding topped $5.5 billion in first nine months of 2017. Venture capital investors throughout the world pumped $5.5 billion into health care IT and digital health firms through September, according to a new report by Mercom. That means that this year's VC haul in the field has already zoomed past 2016's—and that year was the previous record. (HIT Consultant)


Federal judge invalidates Allergan patents on dry eye drug amid Native tribe deal drama. Allergan has been drawing plenty of attention for its controversial deal to safe house patents on a blockbuster dry eye drug by transferring them to a Native American tribe in upstate New York. Turns out, it may not matter all that much. A federal judge on Monday invalidated the patents for "obviousness," possibly rendering the Native patent deal moot. The judge did, however, take time to criticize the deal's structure. Allergan said it's reviewing all options going forward. (Ars Technica)


Trump drug czar nominee withdraws following criticisms over DEA law. Rep. Tom Marino, President Trump's nominee for "drug czar," has withdrawn his name from consideration. Marino was under fire after reports emerged that he'd boosted a law that eventually made it harder for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to freeze certain suspicious shipments, which critics say made federal efforts to fight opioid abuse more difficult. "Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!" Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday. (Politico)


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