What’s New in Health Care Reform: Nov. 8

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.

CVS Will Offer Next-Day Delivery of Prescription Drugs

CVS Health said that it would begin offering next-day delivery of prescription drugs and same-day service in some big cities next year, reflecting the company’s worries about potential competition from Amazon. CVS Health also said its retail sales declined in the third quarter of this year, a dip that the company said occurred because of the three major hurricanes that forced many stores to close. Via NY Times.

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FDA Clears the Way for More Consumer Genetic Health Tests to Hit the Market

The floodgates for direct-to-consumer genetic tests are swinging wide open. The Food and Drug Administration plans on loosening many of the regulations surrounding genetic health risk tests, or GHRs, according to a statement from Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. It’s a change of course for the agency, which in 2013 put a freeze on direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests for health conditions. Via STAT.

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ACA Sign-Ups Spike at Open Enrollment’s Start

In the first few days of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, the numbers of participants has surged compared with the past, according to federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration has yet to release official numbers. More than 200,000 Americans chose a plan on Nov. 1, the day open enrollment began, according to one administration official. That’s more than double the number of consumers who signed up on the first day of enrollment last year. More than 1 million people visited HeathCare.gov, the official federal website, the official said, which amounts to roughly a 33% increase in traffic compared with 2016. Via Washington Post.

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Health Companies Race to Catch UnitedHealth as Amazon Laces up

As soon as news surfaced last week about the potential merger of CVS Health and Aetna, all eyes turned to the looming threat from Amazon. The online retailer’s flirtation with the pharmacy business is a factor, no doubt. But many industry experts say CVS and Aetna have another huge competitor on their minds: UnitedHealth Group. UnitedHealth is best known as the nation’s largest health insurer, with more than 45 million members in the U.S. But behind the scenes, it has extended its reach deep into America’s medicine cabinets, operating rooms, and doctor offices. Via Kaiser Health News.

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House Votes to Repeal Obamacare's Medicare Cost-Cutting Board

The House voted to repeal a controversial Medicare cost-cutting board that has drawn the ire of both parties. Lawmakers voted 307-111 to abolish what is known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The board is tasked with coming up with Medicare cuts if spending rises above a certain threshold but has been criticized as outsourcing the work of Congress. Via The Hill.

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Medicare Scraps Future Pay Model for Home Health Companies

The stocks of publicly traded home health companies soared after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services tossed out a controversial new payment system that would have cut Medicare payments to home health providers by $1 billion in 2019. Via Axios.

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White House Opioid Commission Calls for Wide-Ranging Changes to Anti-Drug Policies

President Trump's commission on the opioid crisis called for a nationwide system of drug courts and easier access to alternatives to opioids for people in pain, part of a wide-ranging menu of improvements it said are needed to curb the opioid epidemic. Via Washington Post.

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1 in 5 Physicians Want to Cut Back Clinical Work Hours over Frustrations

The burden and bureaucracy of modern medicine, not to mention technological frustrations, inflict a toll on U.S. physicians and appear to be major factors influencing their intentions to reduce clinical work hours or leave the profession, according to new research by experts at the American Medical Association, Mayo Clinic, and Stanford University. Via Healthcare Finance.

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Pharma Reps Not Welcome? More Hospitals, Practices Granting "No Access" to Salespeople

The number of physicians in hospitals and practices barring commercial visits from pharmaceutical reps is climbing, according to SK&A's latest Market Insight Report. Doctors who designated themselves as "no access" to these visits jumped from 36.5% to 40.6% over a 14-month period from June 2016 to August 2017, the report showed. Via Healthcare Finance.

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Administration Denies More States' Plans to Customize Insurance Markets

Two states looking for approval to customize their health insurance systems under the Affordable Care Act reversed course after the Trump administration said their applications couldn't be approved in time for next year. Iowa withdrew its proposal to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for a waiver to alter its Affordable Care Act markets. Massachusetts' proposal was effectively denied by the administration. Both states sought to use some of the money that would have gone toward subsidies for consumers to instead create reinsurance programs that would protect insurers from major losses. Reinsurance often lowers premiums. Via NPR.

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Andy Tofilon

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

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