Today's News and Commentary

About health insurance

House Democrats introduce moderate Medicare expansion plan: Yesterday, House Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), along with 16 cosponsors endorsed a plan called The Medicare for America Act. “All U.S. residents would be eligible for the expanded Medicare plans, but newborns, the uninsured and anyone receiving coverage through Medicaid, Medicare, ObamaCare or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would automatically be enrolled.” Unlike Medicare for All, individuals could to keep their employer-sponsored health insurance. The only declared presidential candidate supporting this proposal is Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

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Trump Administration Files Formal Request to Strike Down All of Obamacare: Yesterday I reported that the President was encouraging a bipartisan effort to save the ACA. Yesterday, his administration came down hard on the law recommending the Justice Department support its repeal in toto. “In filing the brief, the administration abandoned an earlier position — that some portions of the law, including the provision allowing states to expand their Medicaid programs, should stand.” In a tweet last month the President said: a replacement plan “will be on full display during the Election as a much better & less expensive alternative to Obamacare.”

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As Retiree Health-Care Bills Mount, Some States Have a Solution: Stop Paying: States are looking more closely at their retiree healthcare costs, since they are rapidly rising unfunded liabilities. Some are eliminating retiree health insurance benefits for new hires while looking for ways to trim current expenses.

Read the story (Wall Street Journal but appears to be open access)

The CBO analyzed what it would take to shift to a single-payer system. Here are 5 takeaways: Yesterday, the CBO issued a report on its take of a single payer system (like Medicare for All). There wasn’t much new that hasn’t been discussed concerning the forms such a program could take. Also, no budget/tax estimates were offered. The article does give a nice summary of this report.

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Taking action and providing states options to minimize economic burden created by the ACA: In another case of mixed signals by the Trump administration, CMS Administrator Verma solicited requests for information (RFIs) from the states to develop insurance programs as alternatives to ACA exchanges. She announced: “Through this RFI, CMS—along with the Department of the Treasury—are asking for more ideas for new programs and waiver concepts for states to consider under a State Relief and Empowerment Waiver plan. Our hope is that these additional waiver concepts will foster further discussion and spur innovative thinking among states that drive toward real solutions to improve access to affordable coverage for all Americans.” The alternatives would be implemented under “Section 1332 waivers.”

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About the public’s health

Texas SNAP recipients may face ban on junk food and sugary drinks: In an effort to stem obesity, the Texas legislature will take up a bill that “would ban people from using food stamps to pay for energy drinks, candy and other junk foods.” Such legislation has failed to pass elsewhere.

Read the story(Washington Post but appears to be open access)

About healthcare IT

How Successful Are Healthcare Organizations With Clinical Analytics?:HIMSS Analytics surveyed 110 senior healthcare leaders about their organizations’s use of clinical analytics. The overall findings were:

—90% of respondents report using analytics in clinical areas.

—Only 28.4% of respondents are using analytics for effectiveness of care projects, 21.6% are using for population health, and 10.8% are using for chronic care management.

—Among healthcare organizations that have not yet deployed analytics but plan to do so, only 31.8% say population health will be a top focus area. 59.1% say effectiveness of care will be a top focus area.

In addition, the survey revealed that healthcare leaders rate clinical staff (physicians and nurses)the lowest among five categories of stakeholders on their ability to drive decisions throughtheir use of analytics.

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About pharma

Antibiotic resistance: the small Indian biotech hoping to solve a big problem: This article is really about the lack of development of new antibiotics as the global bacterial resistance problem becomes worse. So different models need to be developed to correct this problem. For example, Lord Jim O’Neill, former Treasury minister for both David Cameron and Theresa May told an event at the Wellcome Trust last month that the failure of the pharmaceutical sector to develop new antibiotics meant that it was time for the industry to be turned into some kind of "government funded utility".

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Fixing a ‘market failure’: To develop new antibiotics, upend the incentive structure, experts urge: On the same theme but with an American spin, policy makers here are also looking at governmental involvement in antibiotic development.

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Legislature approves Canadian drug import bill, other health reforms: The Florida legislature approved two measures to lower pharmaceutical costs: the Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program in the Agency for Health Care Administration and the International Prescription Drug Importation Program in the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. (The Canadian Prescription Drug Importation Program would be for state health-care programs, while the international program would be for all state residents.) The state still needs FDA approval for the program since it is illegal without a waiver.

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