Today's News and Commentary

About health insurance

White House may have given up on health plan it says it is writing (Washington Post- subscription may be required): Remember several months ago the Trump administration said it would release a new health plan in the near future? This report says the Republicans may have abandoned that tactic and are now trying to figure out what would happen if the appeals courts void the entire ACA. The electorate is now in favor of the benefits the ACA provides, even if it criticizes some of its administrative problems and costs. We will need to see how this issue unfolds in the coming weeks.

Virginia governor and UVA vow to revamp practice of suing patients as CEO exits: On the heals of the story about the University of Virginia’s aggressive collection methods, the CEO announced her departure and Virginia governor Northam, a pediatric neurologist, vowed changes.

California legislature advances bill that caps dialysis profits: Major dialysis providers, like Fresenius and DaVita, make large donations to charitable funds which, in turn pay insurance premiums for dialysis patients. The companies can then bill insurers commercial rates for their services, thus reaping large profits. The California legislature, with support from Governor Newsom, is advancing a measure to impose Medicare rates on companies that participate in this practice.

Socioeconomic, Insurance Status Can Affect Patient Benefit from Clinical Cancer Trials: “Health insurance status and living in a socioeconomically deprived area may affect whether a patient will benefit from experimental treatments offered in cancer clinical trials…”

370 organizations signed a letter to Congress laying out principles for reform for the prior authorization process for Medicare Advantage patients.

About the public’s health

Purdue inks multibillion-dollar opioid deal with thousands of local governments, more than 20 states: reports: More details are coming out about the $10-12 billion settlement agreement with 23 states and nearly 2,300 cities, counties and tribes. I cannot find any mention of the individual or hospital lawsuits being part of this settlement. A related article looks at ten other large settlements in the pharma industry (none even close to this one).

A trailblazing professor turns 100 next month. He’s still doing ‘incredibly complex’ research funded by the NIH (Washington Post- subscription may be required): This is a good-news story about Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, the father of preventive cardiology, who will be 100 next month. It was my privilege to have him guest lecture on epidemiology in my classes for MBA students for a number of years. He was always insightful, witty and interesting. Ever the public health advocate, before one lecture he criticized the junk food in the vending machines and advocated for fresh fruit instead.

About pharma

Surescripts terminates contract with ReMy Health, hindering PillPack's access to patient prescription data: Read this article for a summary of the latest about the electronic prescription ordering area.