Some thoughts on Trump's first 100 days

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Lois A. Bowers
Lois A. Bowers

President Donald Trump will hit the 100-day mark of his presidency on Saturday.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday indicates that his approval rating at this point, 40%, is the lowest job-approval rating for a new president at this stage in the history of the poll.

In addition to a proposed budget from Trump that threatens major budget cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Housing and Urban Development, especially disappointing to organizations advocating for senior living operators was the American Health Care Act introduced by Republicans in the House of Representatives. If implemented as originally proposed, the act would have hurt long-term services and supports providers, Medicaid beneficiaries and professional caregivers, they said.

Whether a reportedly planned push for movement on the healthcare reform front in the coming week is successful remains to be seen. Even if a replacement for the Affordable Care Act isn't on the agenda, however, the week will see other healthcare-related efforts.

Going into the week, the country has a new acting surgeon general after the firing of Vivek Murthy, M.D., MBA, on Friday. The Trump administration has not released an announcement about the change, but on his Facebook page, Murthy said he refused to resign when asked “because I would never willfully abandon my commitment to my Commissioned Corps officers, to the American people, and to all who have stood with me to build a healthier and more compassionate America.”

The move perhaps most relevant to seniors and senior living providers undertaken by Murthy, who had been in the position since late 2014, was the 2015 release of a call to action to create more areas for walking and wheelchair-rolling as well as for the maintenance of existing spaces, such as those at senior centers, that promote such physical activity.

Murthy said his interim replacement is Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., a nurse who has spent the past 30 years in the Army and in the U.S. Public Health Service. Her photo already appears on social media accounts for the office. “Her deep wealth of experience is matched only by the immense size of her heart,” he wrote. “I know she will serve with distinction.”

Other big healthcare-related news for this week is the potential approval of Scott Gottlieb, M.D., as commissioner of Food and Drug Administration. Gottlieb's nomination will be considered Wednesday at a hearing of the full Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies the FDA, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, healthcare reform and political and clinical trends in medicine, according to biographical information posted on the AEI website. He is a clinical assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine and advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a member of the Federal Health IT Policy Committee. He is a former deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs at the FDA and former senior policy adviser to the CMS administrator.

At an initial confirmation hearing earlier this month, Gottlieb said that speed and safety are not mutually exclusive goals when it comes to drug approval. Having previously expressed opposition to importing pharmaceuticals from other countries, Gottlieb also said he would recuse himself for a year from agency decisions involving approximately 20 companies with which he had worked or in which he had invested.

And just to keep things interesting, this week's activities will occur under the looming prospect of funding for the federal government expiring on Friday.

What will the next 100 days bring?

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight's Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.

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