The Rundown | Week of 1.15.2018

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Alex Azar Moves One Step Closer to Being HHS Secretary

According to a new Politico report, the Senate Finance Committee has advanced Alex Azar’s nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services, after a 15-12 vote that fell mostly along party lines. Senator Tom Carper, of Delaware, is the lone Democrat to vote for his nomination. Azar is a former pharmaceutical executive and HHS official during President George W. Bush’s administration. While the full Senate vote has not been scheduled, Azar is expected to be confirmed by the end of the month.
>>Read more: “Senate committee advances Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary”

CHIP Funding Uncertain as Government Shutdown Looms

There are only several hours until a possible government shutdown and Children’s Health Insurance Funding Program (CHIP) funding continues to hang in the balance, according to a new Washington Post report. President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met on Friday to try and strike a deal to avoid government shutdown.  Republican lawmakers did propose a short-term solution that included CHIP funding, but did not include funding for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DREAMers, which has been a serious point of contention between Democrats and Republicans.
>>Read more: “Government shutdown looms as Trump sets a meeting with Schumer”

Blockchain Offers an Alternative IT Solution in Healthcare

A new blockchain-centric project created by Universal Health Coin aims to reshape the healthcare landscape for both health service providers and individuals utilizing a free-market, self-directed approach, reports Nasdaq. The forthcoming blockchain-based system “would be token-based… system that employs blockchain technology to arbitrage, decentralize, fund and provision the fair payment of health services worldwide.”
>>Read more: “Blockchain-Powered Health Coin Could Mean Self-Directed Healthcare”

Hospitals Band Together to Create Their Own Drug Company

In a novel move, a group of hospitals have decided to join forces to create their own drug company to combat drug scarcity and skyrocketing prices, reports the New York Times. “Dr. Kevin A. Schulman, a professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine who has studied the generic drug market and is advising the effort, said: ‘If they all agree to buy enough to sustain this effort, you will have a huge threat to people that are trying to manipulate the generic drug market. They will want to think twice.’”
>>Read more: “Fed Up With Drug Companies, Hospitals Decide to Start Their Own”

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