News for Insurers
Top stories summarized by our editors
11/15/2019

Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have proposed legislation to establish a Bureau of Prescription Drug Affordability and Access and give the federal government the authority to control list prices and dismantle patent protections for drugmakers that don't cooperate. The Prescription Drug Affordability and Access Act would require companies to justify proposed prices by disclosing costs for research and development, marketing, and executive salaries, among other measures.

11/15/2019

The proportion of US adults who smoke cigarettes dropped to 13.7% last year, the lowest level since tracking started in 1965, but e-cigarette users increased to 3.2% in 2018 from 2.8% in 2017, partly because of rising use among young adults ages 18 to 24. Overall, 19.7% of American adults used tobacco products last year, including cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah and pipes.

Full Story:
The Hill, CNN
11/15/2019

As part of AHIP's podcast "The Next Big Thing in Health," Oscar Health Chief Product Officer Sara Wajnberg discusses how technology can improve the health care experience, citing as an example the company's use of an algorithm to personalize what it calls care routing -- guiding members to the best health care provider for them. Going forward, health insurance providers should focus on making care more accessible for patients, and Oscar Health is addressing this challenge by offering telemedicine and exploring its use for not only acute care, but also chronic disease care, Wajnberg noted.

Full Story:
AHIP blog
11/15/2019

The CDC reported Thursday that the number of severe lung injury cases associated with vaping is now at 2,172, up from 2,051 from the previous week, and confirmed deaths have reached 42 in 24 states and the District of Columbia. More than 85% of cases have been associated with products containing THC, and officials are also examining the role of vitamin E acetate.

Full Story:
HealthDay News, Reuters
11/15/2019

The FDA has approved BeiGene's Brukinsa, or zanubrutinib, as for patients with mantle cell lymphoma who have undergone prior treatment.

11/15/2019

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Congress will likely postpone $4 billion in cuts to the 2020 Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payments program as part of an appropriations debate, and lawmakers won't change the DSH formula this year as initially expected. In exchange for the delayed funding cuts, Grassley wants hospitals to disclose all public funding they receive to state Medicaid programs and the CMS.

More Summaries:
Senate Finance Committee
11/15/2019

A survey of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the family medicine department at Ohio State University found 95% sometimes or often talk about exercise with African-American female patients, but 76% have never included hair care in the discussion, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Hair care can be a barrier to exercise among black women and study leader Sophia Tolliver said if clinicians do not talk with patients about the subject, they are not doing all they can to reduce that barrier to exercise.

Full Story:
HealthDay News
11/15/2019

The "Flint Kids Eat Fresh Food" initiative will give $325,000 in gift certificates good for fresh fruits and vegetables at the Flint Farmers' Market to all school children in Flint, Mich. The program, sponsored by Michigan State University-Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, the Detroit Pistons and the National Basketball Association Players Association, is in its third year and this is the first year high school students have been included.

11/15/2019

An FDA advisory panel recommended broader use of Vascepa, a prescription fish oil drug, for patients at risk of heart attack, stroke and related health problems. Separately, a study published in the journal Circulation found that while neither fish oil nor vitamin D reduced the risk of first-time hospitalizations for heart failure, people taking fish oil were 14% less likely to be readmitted to the hospital, compared with those taking placebo.

11/15/2019

The average Medicare beneficiary has 28 prescription drug plans from which to choose for 2020, compared with 27 for this year and 22 in 2017, and carriers are offering 202 more plans for 2020 than in 2017. Average monthly premiums range from $13 to $83.