Oral arguments in a case filed in a Texas court by 20 states questioning the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act will be held on Sept. 10, two months before the midterm elections and about six weeks before open enrollment begins on Nov. 1. Rather than defending the law, Justice Department attorneys also said the ACA is not constitutional and asked the court to strike down the law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Preliminary CDC data showed US drug overdose mortality hit record levels last year, increasing to more than 72,000 deaths, driven mainly by the continued increase in fatalities involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids rose by more than 9,000 from the prior year, reaching almost 30,000 deaths in 2017, while fatalities from heroin, prescription opioids and methadone have dropped.
Adults who lived with a smoker in the home during childhood had 31% increased odds of dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, compared with those who did not live with a smoker as children, researchers reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The findings were based on data involving more than 70,000 adults who never smoked and were followed for 22 years.
A study in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients with type 2 diabetes who did not have any risk factors -- smoking, albuminuria or abnormal HbA1C, blood pressure or LDL cholesterol -- did not have excess mortality risk or increased risk for acute myocardial infarction or stroke, but they were at a higher risk for heart failure, compared with those who did not have diabetes. Researchers studied more than 270,000 Swedish registry patients with diabetes and found that smoking was the top predictor for mortality, while HbA1C above the target range was the strongest predictor for acute MI and stroke.
Two EHR-integrated, web-based tools that use Substitutable Medical Applications and Reusable Technologies on the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard are being launched by Geisinger Health System and Merck. The Family Caregiver app is designed to support communication between health care providers and caregivers, while the MedTrue app is meant to improve medication adherence and reconciliation by integrating medication data with clinical workflows.
HHS, in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration, awarded $125 million to community health centers across the US to help improve EHR use, health care quality, patient care delivery and clinical efficiency. Community health centers "have a track record of delivering quality care at significantly lower cost, and are vital partners in our movement toward a health system that delivers quality, affordable, value-based health care for all Americans," said HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan.
Nevada said it will start operating its own Affordable Care Act exchange beginning in 2020, a move marketplace Executive Director Heather Korbulic said will save the state more than $18 million over the life of the contract. Nevada Health Link has partnered with GetInsured, which operates exchanges for seven other states.
A study released by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association confirms no association between rising list prices and rebates on top brand-name drugs in Medicare Part. "Simply eliminating plans' ability to negotiate price concessions would enrich drugmakers at the expense of patients, who'd not only face higher prices but higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs too," said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt.
A proposed CMS rule requests information on improving collaboration between accountable care organizations and Medicare Part D drug plans, including "financial arrangements to reward ACOs and Part D sponsors for improved health outcomes and lower growth in expenditures for Medicare FFS beneficiaries."
China's Patent Review Board has issued a partial patent invalidation for Gilead Sciences' hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, or sofosbuvir, meaning generic versions of the drug will be marketable as soon as next year instead of 2024, when Gilead's patent had been set to expire.
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