Date: November 13, 2017
Around the Nation
Insurers See Jump in Sign-Ups for Affordable Care Act
The Wall Street Journal, 11/9/17
In the first four days of ACA open enrollment, which started Nov. 1, 601,462 people selected insurance plans for next year using the federal marketplace,, according to the Trump administration. Of those, 137,322 counted as new customers, because they won't be in an ACA plan at the end of 2017. The federal insurance exchange is used by 39 states. The pace appears substantially faster than it was a year ago. In the first five days of last year's open enrollment-Nov. 1 through Nov. 5, 2016-415,512 people selected plans through, according to publicly available federal data.
Related: "Despite Trump's scorn, early Obamacare sign-ups top 600K" (ABC News | AP, 11/9/17):
Initial Senate tax bill does not repeal ObamaCare mandate
The Hill, 11/9/17
The tax-reform bill that Senate Republicans are releasing Thursday does not repeal ObamaCare's individual insurance mandate, though the provision could be added down the line, GOP senators said. Senators leaving a briefing about the legislation said repealing the mandate is not in the initial text of the legislation, but cautioned that the issue is still under discussion.
Trump Picks Alex Azar To Lead Health And Human Services
NPR, 11/13/17
On Twitter on Monday, Trump announced the nomination of Alex Azar, who until January had served as president of the U.S. arm of Eli Lilly & Co., based in Indianapolis. He said Azar, whose own Twitter feed is private, would be "a star for better healthcare and lower drug prices." Azar, who served as deputy HHS secretary under President George W. Bush, is known as a detail-oriented bureaucrat who understands how to work the regulatory system to get things done.
Around Illinois
Press Release: Entrepreneurship program for formerly incarcerated individuals
Office of the Governor, 11/6/17
Gov. Bruce Rauner is announcing a new, innovative program to help formerly incarcerated men and women start their own businesses. The Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizens (PERC) program is the first of its kind in Illinois. In its pilot phase, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will screen candidates and select 125 people who are returning to communities on the south and west sides of Chicago. When they go home, they will receive in-depth training and coaching on how to run a business. This program will give them the opportunity to spur economic development and create jobs in the same communities in which they live.
Treatment Court Offers Second Chance for Veterans
Peoria Public Radio, 11/13/17
Illinois Circuit Courts will be required to have a special treatment court for veterans, starting next year. The initiative aims to reduce recidivism among soldiers who are struggling with mental health and addiction. The tenth circuit court in Peoria already offers a veteran's treatment court and is awaiting certification to meet the Jan. 1st deadline.
Research, Reports, and Studies
Medicaid Expansion Takes A Bite Out Of Medical Debt
NPR | KCUR, 11/10/17
A study from the Urban Institute may shed some light on why Medicaid eligibility remains a pressing problem: medical debt. While personal debts related to health care are on the decline overall, they remain far higher in states that didn't expand Medicaid. In some cases, struggles with medical debt can be all-consuming.
Report: "Past-Due Medical Debt among Nonelderly Adults, 2012-15" (Urban Institute, 3/1/17):
Brain Scientists Look Beyond Opioids To Conquer Pain
NPR, 11/13/17
The goal is simple: a drug that can relieve chronic pain without causing addiction. But achieving that goal has proved difficult, says Edward Bilsky, a pharmacologist who serves as the provost and chief academic officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wash. "We know a lot more about pain and addiction than we used to," says Bilsky, "But it's been hard to get a practical drug."
86 percent of women in jail are sexual-violence survivors
Salon, 11/11/17
According to a recent study, 86 percent of women who have spent time in jail report that they had been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. As well, while women represented just 13 percent of the jail population between 2009 and 2011, they represented 67 percent of the victims of staff-on-inmate sexual victimization. Sexual violence is so pronounced among jailed and incarcerated women that Sen. Cory Booker, (D-NJ,) labeled the overarching phenomenon as "a survivor-of-sexual-trauma to prisoner pipeline." These numbers come from the Vera Institute of Justice, which authored a survey last year titled "Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform."
Report: "Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform" (Vera Institute of Justice, 8/2016):
Scientists Start To Tease Out The Subtler Ways Racism Hurts Health
NPR, 11/11/17
Montenegro, who now has an M.D. in addition to his Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in child psychiatry at Seattle Children's Hospital. He is part of a growing group of scientists who are trying to answer some big, complicated questions: What does the repeated experience of discrimination actually do to your body? And could such experiences be partially responsible for health disparities that exist among different groups in America?
In The Age Of Legalization, Talking To Kids About Marijuana Gets Tougher
NPR | KHN, 11/10/17
Teen perception of the harms of marijuana has dropped over time and many think it's safer than alcohol, according to Elizabeth D'Amico, a senior behavioral scientist at Rand. Currently, more than half of 10th- and 12th-graders believe that smoking marijuana isn't dangerous, according to a recent Rand report. Adolescents in states with legal medical marijuana are less likely to believe the drug is harmful, research shows. "The changing legal landscape has a lot to do with adolescents' changing perceptions," D'Amico says. "That's why we really need to change the conversation around this drug."
Opinions, Editorials, and Commentary
Jessica Hulsey Nickel: Want to Help Address the Opioid Crisis? Start with Your Medicine Cabinet
Addiction Policy Forum, 11/9/17
Heroin is involved in many of the opioid-related deaths, but addiction doesn't always begin with the use of illicit drugs. Studies have shown that two in three people who currently use heroin started out by using prescription pain medications for nonmedical purposes. According to the federal government, 2,000 teenagers will misuse a prescription drug for the first time today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. Many of these first-time encounters with opioids happen in homes with leftover medications that were initially prescribed by a physician... On Thursday, November 2nd, The Addiction Policy Forum partnered with a number of local organizations in Ohio, a state particularly hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, to distribute free prescription drug disposal kits containing at-home disposal pouches and educational materials. These disposal pouches are easy to use and highly effective-put any unused medication into the pouch, add water (which mixes with chemical properties in the pouch to nullify active ingredients in the medicine) and toss the pouch into the trash... Order a prescription drug disposal kit today by visiting
Health & Justice in the News is a summary of recent news stories relating to criminal justice, mental health, addiction, recovery, and related issues. It is compiled and published by TASC each Monday and Thursday.
Some headlines and text have been altered by TASC for clarity or emphasis, or to minimize discriminatory or stigmatizing language. Opinions in the articles and op-eds do not necessarily express the views of TASC or our staff or partners.

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