What’s New in Health Care Reform: Aug. 16

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Trump Signs Bill Helping Vets Get Access to Private Medical Care

President Trump signed into law a bill providing over $2 billion to open new Veterans Affairs department medical facilities and fund care for veterans seeking medical care outside the government system on Saturday. Via Washington Examiner.

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High Anxiety for Insurers on Obamacare Deadline

Insurers are grappling with a serious predicament in finalizing how much their health plans will cost, even after a three-week extension from the Trump administration. The new September 5 deadline gives carriers more time to tweak their premiums for HealthCare.gov in a year where uncertainty surrounding the law has reached a new high. Via The Hill.

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Climbing Cost of Decades-Old Drugs Threatens to Break Medicaid Bank

Skyrocketing price tags for new drugs to treat rare diseases have stoked outrage nationwide. But hundreds of old, commonly used drugs cost the Medicaid program billions of extra dollars in 2016 vs. 2015, a Kaiser Health News data analysis shows. Eighty of the drugs—some generic and some still carrying brand names—proved more than two decades old. Via Kaiser Health News.

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Trump Is Declaring a National Emergency over Opioid Epidemic

President Donald Trump said that he will declare a national emergency over the opioid epidemic. “It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” Trump told reporters. “It is a serious problem, the likes of which we’ve never had. You know, when I was growing up, they had LSD, and they had certain generations of drugs. There’s never been anything like what’s happened to this country over the last four or five years.” Via Vox.

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The Cost of Treating Opioid Overdose Victims Is Skyrocketing

The cost of treating opioid overdose victims in hospital intensive care units jumped 58% in a seven-year span, according to a new study that concludes increasingly sick patients are placing a greater strain on an overmatched health care system. Via STAT.

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With Drug Overdoses Soaring, States Limit the Length of Painkiller Prescriptions

States are enacting strict limits on the number of powerful prescription painkillers doctors can prescribe, a move that many believe will help fight the opioid crisis but has raised alarms among some physicians. At least 17 states have enacted rules to curb the number of painkillers doctors can prescribe. Some, including Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio, have passed laws limiting the duration of initial opioid prescriptions to five or seven days. Others are passing dosage limits. In Kentucky, a law went into effect last month capping opioid prescriptions for acute pain to three days. Via Washington Post.

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Health Insurers Seek Higher Rates for Minnesota Small Businesses

Small business health plans in Minnesota could be facing double-digit premium increases next year, with some insurers saying that enrollees are consuming more care just as medical costs are rising. The number of those potentially affected by proposed increases is about 160,000. Preliminary figures released this month are rekindling fears that some small businesses might drop group coverage altogether, but such moves could be tough in a tight labor market where employers use health benefits to compete for talent. The state’s four largest health insurers for small businesses are proposing average increases that range from 8 to 17%, a slightly higher range than 2017 rate proposals that resulted in an overall average increase of nearly 10% after reviews by regulators. The state Commerce Department is scheduled to release final rates by October 2. Via Star Tribune.

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"Right to Try" Bill Could Face Slower Action in House

A Senate-passed bill intended to help dying patients access experimental drugs will likely face lengthier deliberations in the House. While the Senate fast-tracked the bill on August 3, the House will likely subject it to a hearing and markup before bringing it up to a vote, according to congressional aides and a lobbyist. Via Roll Call.

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FDA Addressing Racial Disparity in Patients Enrolled in Clinical Trials

Earlier this year, some were outraged when there were no women and few minorities among the 13 senators working on the Senate’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It turns out, equal representation in health care issues also extends to the health care trials and studies that determine what treatments are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Via KJZZ.

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Trump Names Tomas Philipson as Second Member of Council of Economic Advisers

President Donald Trump named Tomas Philipson, an economist at the University of Chicago who has specialized in health care policy, to the three-member Council of Economic Advisers. Mr. Philipson briefly served as an adviser to the Trump transition team last fall on health care matters and was a senior economic adviser to the head of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the George W. Bush administration. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. He leads strategies for corporate communications, public relations, and new media innovations. Andy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2003. Outside of work, Andy can be found running, hiking, snapping photos, and most importantly, spending time with his family.