Today's News and Commentary

About pharma

White House kills major drug pricing proposal: Remember the President’s proposals to lower individuals’ drug costs by re-channeling rebates? Nevermind. Now Congressional focus will be on prices pharma companies charge.

About healthcare IT

FCC approves $100M rural telehealth program: “The proposed pilot program would offer an 85 percent discount on connectivity for telehealth services powered by broadband internet access. The virtual care services would connect patients directly to their physicians through audio and video technology.” The question is whether there is adequate connectivity in places that need it.

Amazon's Alexa will now give Brits health advice: Want to ask Alexa about your symptoms or how to treat your illness? You can in the UK. It appears the concerns there are only about privacy. In this country we would also have liability concerns.

About healthcare quality

Changes in hospital safety following penalties in the US Hospital Acquired Condition Reduction Program: retrospective cohort study: Does the threat of penalties improve care? The answer with respect to hospital acquired conditions is: “No.” In fact financially penalizing hospitals could make it more difficult to deliver care to needy populations. The research concluded: “Penalization was not associated with significant changes in rates of hospital acquired conditions, 30 day readmission, or 30 day mortality, and does not appear to drive meaningful clinical improvements.”

About the public’s health

Sugary drink consumption and risk of cancer: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort:  “In this large prospective study, the consumption of sugary drinks was positively associated with the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer. 100% fruit juices were also positively associated with the risk of overall cancer. These results need replication in other large scale prospective studies. They suggest that sugary drinks, which are widely consumed in Western countries, might represent a modifiable risk factor for cancer prevention.”

About health insurance

Appeals court appears likely to call for lower court to settle unanswered questions on ACA lawsuit, experts say: More legal experts have weighed in on what might happen as the appeals court rules on the ACA. The most recent comments are that the court will send the suit back to a lower court to decide which parts of the law can exist without the individual mandate.

Rifts Emerge Over Congressional Move to Curb Surprise Medical Bills: While bipartisan support for addressing surprise medical bills still exists, the implementation details are causing some disagreements. For example, if you take the patient out of the equation, who is responsible for the difference between what the insurance company pays and what the provider is asking?

California gov signs health care bill extending coverage to some undocumented residents: “Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed SB-104, which extends health care benefits to individuals 19 to 25 years of age, regardless of their immigration status.”