Today's News and Commentary

About the public’s health

States Can Improve Residents’ Health and Reduce Healthcare Spending by Adopting Policies Outside of the Healthcare Sector, New Report Shows: Many non-medical measures have been recently implemented by private and public organizations in order to address the public’s health. This just-released study from the Trust for America’s Health “analyzes state action on 13 policies outside the healthcare sector that have a long-term impact on health and an evidence base showing their effectiveness. They include: tobacco and alcohol taxes, syringe access programs, universal pre-K and rapid rehousing laws, among others.” It’s a great blueprint for targeting actions that have positive returns on investments. Policy makers, TAKE NOTE!

Read the study 

50M gallons of polluted water pours daily from US mine sites: Where is the EPA? Some of these sites have irreparably harmed the environment. Will it take deaths to correct this travesty?

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Recommended composition of influenza virus vaccines for use in the 2019- 2020 northern hemisphere influenza season: In the midst of our current flu season, this WHO announcement is a reminder that public health officials are already trying to predict next year’s strain so that an effective vaccine can be prepared in time. In the meantime, researchers continue to work on a universal vaccine that would be effective against all strains.

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U.S. health spending to rise 5.5 percent per year over next decade: CMS: “U.S. health spending is expected to grow at an average rate of 5.5 percent every year from 2018 over the next decade and will reach nearly $6 trillion by 2027.” The economy had better grow to keep up with these expenses. Politicians advocate for so many new social programs but forget our growing financial responsibility in this sector.

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About pharma:

As politicians advocate for importation of drugs from abroad, we need to remember that the supply chain is not as safe outside the US. These two article in today’s news highlight that point.

Dr. Reddy’s Reports 11 Violations in FDA Inspection
WHO Warns of Falsified Leukemia Drug in Supply Chain

About healthcare IT

Is It Time for a Better Hospital ID Bracelet?: The typical hospital ID bracelet has small print prone to identification errors and is a germ reservoir. So say many critics of this iconic inpatient “jewelry.” Newer identifiers will be based on “stick-on” technology and/or bracelets that can act as locators and trackers of activity in recovering patients.

Read the article for more information.

Abbott and Novo Nordisk Enter Partnership to Provide Integrated Digital Solution to People with Diabetes Using Insulin: “Abbott  and Novo Nordisk today announced a non-exclusive partnership that will integrate insulin dose data from Novo Nordisk pre-filled and durable connected pens directly into the digital health tools compatible with the FreeStyle Libre system (FreeStyle LibreLink mobile app and LibreView cloud-based system).” The IT linkages are interesting but what makes this story noteworthy is the two companies cooperating to help patients better control their blood sugars.

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Arizona college student could die because she can't get copies of her medical records: What happens to electronic records when their holder goes bankrupt and access to them is tied up by by creditors? This Arizona college student is caught in such a situation as “creditors of bankrupt Florence Hospital at Anthem and Gilbert Hospital bicker over who should pay for access to them.” This problem has much wider implications as the government and other stakeholders are looking at interoperability options. One question to be decided is: where does the primary data reside?

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About insurance

Insurers, hospitals agree in telling CMS to keep 'silver-loading': When the federal subsidies for out of pocket expenses (so-called Cost Sharing Reductions) went away last year, Exchange plans compensated by raising their rates for the subsidized Silver-level plans (called “silver-loading”). CMS has issued a notice for comments on next year’s payment structure and many stakeholders want to maintain this current loading. Failing to do so, they claim, will cause financial destabilization of the market. If Republicans really want to harm the ACA, they will ignore these pleas.

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On Congress’ agenda is the problem of “surprise billing,” where a non-contracted healthcare provider bills for emergency care or provides services in a contracted facility. Several major healthcare organizations want their voices heard when the decisions are being made about this issue.

Read the joint statement

Read a report on this issue from the Brookings Institute

CVS shares tumble 8% as forecast takes a hit from investments in Aetna: On the heels a good 4th quarter report, the longer term outlook for CVS scared investors. Integration costs with Aetna, decrease business in Omnicare (its long term care pharma business) and cancellations by insurance companies that use CVS’s PBM services are contributing to the guarded outlook.

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