What’s New in Health Care Reform: Oct. 4

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.

FDA Chief Says Agency Will Take Action to Lower Drug Prices

The Food and Drug Administration will take action to deal with the rising cost of prescription drugs, the agency’s head said. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said high drug prices are “a public health concern that FDA should address.” Gottlieb said the agency will take steps to speed up the regulatory approvals of certain kinds of generic alternatives to pricey “complex” drugs. The goal is to increase competition, which could help to slow the growth or even lower the price of prescription drugs. Via The Hill.

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Premiums Declining, Steady for Plans Via MNsure

Premiums for individual market health plans will decline in many cases or hold relatively steady next year, state regulators said, due in large part to a short-term program lawmakers created to hold down rates. Statewide, average premium changes for the market's largest carriers in 2018 will range from a 13% decrease to an increase of less than 3%, the state Commerce Department announced, noting that the numbers are a dramatic switch from last year's increases of 50% or more. Via Star Tribune.

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9 Million Kids Get Health Insurance under CHIP. Congress Just Let it Expire.

Congress just allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provided low-cost health insurance to 9 million children, to expire. If action is not taken soon to restore the funding, the effects will become obvious in schools across the country, with many of the children in the program unable to see a doctor for routine checkups, immunizations, visits when sick, and other services. Via Washington Post.

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Trump’s Next Move on Health Care? Choice for Secretary May Offer Clue.

President Trump’s selection of a secretary of health and human services could be a turning point in a health care debate that has polarized Washington, as he faces a choice of working with Democrats to fix the current system or continuing his so-far failed efforts to dismantle his predecessor’s program. The resignation of Tom Price as secretary late Friday over his use of costly chartered jets capped a week of setbacks on health care for a president who made the issue a centerpiece of his campaign and his first eight months in office. Mr. Trump’s decision on a successor could be an opportunity to shift the debate, but he faces the prospect of an arduous confirmation battle. Via NY Times.

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This State Has the Best Health Care in America

When it comes to living a long life, Hawaii is the place to be. Beyond the beaches, idyllic balmy weather, and laid-back vibe, the state also has, it turns out, the most efficient health care system in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Via Bloomberg.

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Hospice in Crisis

It might seem odd to talk about “innovations in dying,” but in recent decades the hospice movement has become an important new pathway for the most difficult phase of life. As American health care has become ever more high-tech and expensive, the hospice model of home-based care for terminally ill patients has enabled millions of Americans to die peacefully in their own houses, without painful medical procedures—often greatly reducing stress on both the families and the health care system. Via Politico.

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Trump Preparing Executive Order to Let Americans Purchase Health Insurance across State Lines

President Trump is preparing an executive order to allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines, a reform conservatives have long championed as a way to bring costs down and stir greater competition in the national marketplace. The executive action gives the White House a chance to follow through on at least one promise related to health care reform after Senate Republicans' second attempt to overhaul Obamacare failed this week. Via Washington Examiner.

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Health Insurers Stay in ACA Despite Fears of Last-Minute Exits

Health insurers appeared likely to offer Affordable Care Act plans in all U.S. counties next year, despite months of drama and worries among some state officials about last-minute exits, ahead of a late deadline. Some major insurers that had signaled that they might pull back, including Cigna Corp. , Health Care Service Corp., Molina Healthcare Inc., Highmark Health, and Independence Blue Cross, this week said they would stick to the states and regions where they had filed to offer ACA coverage. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Heart Device Failure: Medicare Spent $1.5B over 10 Years to Replace Defective Implants

Medicare paid at least $1.5 billion over a decade to replace seven types of defective heart devices, a government watchdog says. The devices apparently failed for thousands of senior patients. The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, in a report released, said officials need to do a better job tracking these costly product failures to protect patients from harm. More detailed reporting could lead to earlier recognition of serious problems with medical devices and faster recalls of all types of “poorly performing” ones, the IG’s office said. Via Kaiser Health News.

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House Proposes Delay in Cuts to Uncompensated-Care Funding

House lawmakers have made a move to postpone a multibillion-dollar cut to federal funds to offset hospitals' uncompensated-care costs. The House Energy and Commerce Committee added language that would delay the disproportionate-share hospital funding cuts to its Children's Health Insurance Program reauthorization bill. The Affordable Care Act required the CMS to cut Medicaid DSH funds by $43 billion between fiscal 2018 and 2025. The cuts build year over year, starting at $2 billion in fiscal 2018 and ending at $8 billion in fiscal 2025. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.

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