Today's News and Commentary

About health insurance

Democrats clash over ‘Medicare for all’ in first debate: Read about and listen to what the first 10 Democratic candidates had to say about healthcare last night. Only Warren and deBlasio favored total abolition of private health insurance.

Read and listen to the opinions

The Medical Hospital Readmission Reduction Program.Does It Do Any Good?: This editorial reviews two research papers analyzing the effect of Medicare’s Hospital Readmission Reduction Program. The “bottom line” is that the methodologies overstated the reductions attributed to the program. However, the mortality rate did decrease after implementation.

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Appellate court raises potential new threat to ACA: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is scheduled to begin hearing oral arguments about the constitutionality of the law on July 9, said it needed more information as to whether the House and Democratic states had standing to intervene in the lawsuit and whether their interventions were timely.”

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CMS approves 'Netflix' model for hepatitis C drugs in Louisiana's Medicaid program: As previously reported, Louisiana (and subsequently other states) proposed a prepaid model to cover costs for Hepatitis C drugs for which the state was responsible. The measure required CMS approval which was just granted.

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Senate Health Committee advances bipartisan package to lower health costs: The previously reported bipartisan bill to lower healthcare costs passed the Senate Health Committee. Senators Sanders, Warren and Paul voted against the measure (all for different reasons). The bill would also raise the age for tobacco use from 18 to 21.

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About the public’s health

Trump signs pandemic preparedness bill into law: The headline speaks for itself.

Read the announcement

CDC walks back pneumonia vaccine recommendation for seniors: The CDC says administration of Prevnar 13 should not be a blanket recommendation for those over 65 years old. Instead, it should be an individual decision between patient and physician.

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France loses landmark court case over air pollution: A mother and daughter successfully sued the French government over the adverse health effects of air pollution in the Paris area. I am surprised trial lawyers have not thought about this strategy in this country.

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CDC panel recommends HPV vaccine for men through age 26 and for some older adults: Citing its effectiveness, the CDC recommends extension of the ages for which HPV vaccination may be appropriate.

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Also see the Lancet research that underpins the recommendation

Overdose Deaths Likely to Fall for First Time Since 1990: The headline is self-explanatory. It appears the reason for the fall is many different types of state-initiated programs.

Read the story (Wall Street Journal. This article may require a subscription)

About healthcare IT

Google and the University of Chicago Are Sued Over Data Sharing: “On Wednesday, the University of Chicago, the medical center and Google were sued in a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the hospital of sharing hundreds of thousands of patients’ records with the technology giant without stripping identifiable date stamps or doctor’s notes.”

Read the story (NY Times but appears to be open access)

Pressure builds to secure health care data: This article reviews current Congressional efforts to protect patient data as more breeches occur and more types of devices exist as portals for hacking.

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About pharma

Drug shortages and labor costs: This study by Vizient calculates hospitals’ labor costs to deal with drug shortages as at least $359 million per year, or 8.6 million additional personnel hours.

Read the report