Happy Friday! Welcome back to The Friday Breeze, where I (KHN’s newsletter editor) wade through hundreds of health articles from the week so you don’t have to.
Health certainly was not at the top of mind for this week’s news cycle (what with the House speaker announcing he would not seek re-election and a raid here or there), but there were still some stories that are worth the read. Here’s what you need to know.
Following on the heels of Minnesota’s success, states are starting to eye publicly funded reinsurance pools (which essentially protect insurers when they’re hit with an unexpectedly high claim) as an answer to stabilizing the health law marketplace. But in the era of tight budgets, states have only so much money to throw at the problem. Also, a comprehensive look at where exchanges stand after the past couple topsy-turvy months.
- Stateline: To Curb Rising Health Insurance Costs, Some States Try ‘Reinsurance Pools’
- Modern Healthcare: Where The ACA Health Insurance Exchanges Stand in 2018
The growing popularity of retail clinics and urgent care centers (as well as low pay and long hours for the physicians themselves) are nudging the traditional primary care doctor toward extinction. Physicians are worried all these mergers and movement in the industry are a slippery slope. What’s next, asks one: “Are Aetna patients going to be mandated to go to a CVS MinuteClinic?”
- The New York Times: The Disappearing Doctor: How Mega-Mergers Are Changing the Business of Medical Care
Over in pharmaceutical land, the once-powerful industry’s rare defeat in the “doughnut hole” battle with Congress doesn’t speak well of its current clout on the Hill. And, believe it or not, there are some arguing that certain drug prices are too low.
- Bloomberg: A Rare Loss for U.S. Pharma Lobby Will Cost the Industry Billions
- Bloomberg: Are Drug Prices Too Low?
In the war on opioids, you won’t get far without hearing about naloxone. It’s been a lifesaver for thousands, and the surgeon general just last week urged Americans to start carrying it. But it has its flaws, it’s expensive and, right now, there aren’t any realistic alternatives. Scientists want to change that.
And drug distributors are about to be summoned to Congress in a move some are likening to the tobacco executive hearings in the 1990s.
- Stat: Companies, Academics Search for Better Overdose-Reversal Drugs
- The Washington Post: The Opioid Crisis: Drug Executives to Testify Before Congress About Their Role in Distributing Powerful Painkillers
There were a few things out of the states to keep an eye on from this week: the California bill that would let the state set certain health prices (like hospital stays); how beliefs on single-payer are coming to define the California gubernatorial race (in a microcosm of the Democratic Party); and the fact that not one patient has utilized D.C.’s aid-in-dying law.
- Los Angeles Times: An Ambitious California Bill Would Put the State in Charge of Controlling Prices in the Commercial Healthcare Market
- Los Angeles Times: How Single-Payer Healthcare Has Divided Democrats in California’s Race for Governor
- The Washington Post: A Year After D.C. Passed Its Controversial Assisted Suicide Law, Not a Single Patient Has Used It
In the miscellaneous file of smart, funny or insightful reads from the week: a heartbreaking dive into the crisis facing black women and their babies; juicy takeaways from a book on Theranos (including how staffers would “get disappeared” by the company’s mysterious No. 2); the thousands of vacancies the VA just can’t seem to fill (because there aren’t enough HR people to do the hiring); and the lawyer who’s at the center of the battle over young immigrants seeking abortions.
- The New York Times: Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-And-Death Crisis
- Stat: ‘Therabros’ and ‘Disappeared’ Staffers: The 8 Juiciest Things We Learned From John Carreyrou’s New Theranos Book
- The Washington Post: Trump Says Veterans Wait Too Long for Health Care. VA’s 33,000 Vacancies Might Have Something to Do With That.
- Stat: A New York Attorney Becomes the Face of a Crucial Abortion Rights Case