What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.
Medicare Didn't Investigate Suspicious Reports of Hospital Infections
Almost 100 hospitals reported suspicious data on dangerous infections to Medicare officials, but the agency did not follow up or examine any of the cases in depth, according to a report by the Health and Human Services inspector general's office. Most hospitals report how many infections strike patients during treatment, meaning the infections are likely contracted inside the facility. Each year, Medicare is supposed to review up to 200 cases in which hospitals report suspicious infection-tracking results. Via NPR.
White House Proposal Would Slash Budget for Drug Czar’s Office by 95%
The Trump administration is proposing to slash the budget for the Office of National Drug Control Policy by about 95%, according to a draft document obtained by Morning Consult. Under the proposal, the agency that oversees anti-drug programs would receive $24 million for fiscal year 2018, compared to the $388 million it’s receiving now. Via Morning Consult.
Health Groups Rip FDA for Delaying Calorie Listings on Food Menus
The Trump administration is coming under fire from health groups for delaying an Obamacare rule for restaurants. The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) menu-labeling requirements stem from a provision of former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law requiring restaurants to list the number of calories in the foods they serve. Via The Hill.
FDA Approves First ALS Treatment in More Than Two Decades
The Food and Drug Administration approved Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp's treatment for fatal neurological disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), marking the first such U.S. regulatory approval in more than two decades. The drug, known chemically as edaravone, has been sold by Japan-based Mitsubishi Tanabe in Japan and South Korea since 2015. Via Reuters.
House Approves Obamacare Repeal Bill
The House passed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, as Republicans came closer than ever to realizing their seven-year pledge to overturn the Democratic law and remake health insurance for millions of Americans. The plan, the American Health Care Act, was approved mostly along partisan lines, 217-213, with just one vote to spare. No Democrats backed the bill, and a slew of Republicans opposed it as well. Via Politico.
How the House Finally Got to "Yes" on Health Care
The final push on the health care bill started in earnest Monday night. At 6 p.m., a cadre of Republican lawmakers from the Energy and Commerce Committee met in an unmarked Capitol office to make changes they hoped would bring moderate holdouts on board with the party’s overhaul of the health care system. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, the former Energy and Commerce chairman, was discussing what would get him to “yes” while preparing to email House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to alert him he would be a “no.” His opposition, which he announced the next morning, would reverberate through the conference because Upton, an ally of leadership, was known as a leader on health care policy. Via Roll Call.
Health Insurers Focused on 2018 Unknowns for Obamacare Market
While attention is focused on Republicans' fight to pass a bill to repeal Obamacare starting in 2019, health insurers are busy struggling with decisions they need to make now about how to price premiums and what markets they can afford to be in next year. Hospitals are on the other side of that coin, concerned that a spike in the cost of Obamacare premiums next year will cause many people to simply drop insurance coverage, reducing their revenues in the near future. Via Reuters.
DEA Seeks Prosecutors to Fight Opioid Crisis; Critics Fear Return to War on Drugs
The Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed hiring its own prosecutor corps to bring cases related to drug trafficking, money laundering, and asset forfeiture—a move that advocacy groups warn could exceed the DEA's legal authority and reinvigorate the 1980s-era war on drugs. Citing the epidemic in opioid-related overdoses, the DEA said it wants to hire as many as 20 prosecutors to enhance its resources and target the biggest offenders. The DEA said the new force of lawyers "would be permitted to represent the United States in criminal and civil proceedings before the courts and apply for various legal orders." The agency would use money it gets from companies that manufacture and dispense certain kinds of prescription drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Via Morning Consult.
The Hospital Industry Is a Big Game of Monopoly Right Now
The hospital industry is participating in a massive flea market, with large chains buying and selling hospitals like Pokémon cards or Monopoly properties. Buyers want to bulk up their market power, while sellers want to reduce huge loads of debt or focus their attention elsewhere. Via Axios.
Life Expectancy Can Vary By 20 Years Depending on Where You Live
The U.S. counties with the longest life expectancy are places like Marin County, California, and Summit County, Colorado—communities that are well-off and more highly educated. Counties with the shortest life expectancy tend to have communities that are poorer and less-educated. The lowest is in Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota, which includes the Pine Ridge Native American reservation. Many of the other counties with the lowest life expectancy are clustered along the lower Mississippi River Valley as well as in parts of West Virginia and Kentucky, according to the analysis. Via NPR.