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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Quietly Simmering Feud Over Fetal Tissue Research Is Reaching Its Boiling Point

KHN Morning Briefing

The Trump administration back in September launched an audit over all government-funded fetal tissue research, citing “serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations.” The decision recently affected a lab that has played a key role in testing antiviral drugs to treat HIV infection, highlighting the far-reaching ramifications of the debate.

Investigators Uncover Trove Of Photos Of Unclothed Women In Former USC Gynecologist’s Storage Unit

KHN Morning Briefing

The police have been investigating Dr. George Tyndall as part of what is believed to be the largest sex crimes investigation involving an individual in LAPD history. Hundreds of current and former USC students have made allegations against Tyndall’s behavior while performing medical examinations. In October, USC agreed to settle a federal class-action suit on behalf of Tyndall’s patients for $215 million.

Hospital-Acquired Infections Dip, But Experts Say That There’s Still More Work To Do

KHN Morning Briefing

Experts say there are certain infection types–such as pneumonia or C. diff–that aren’t showing any progress. Meanwhile, health care executives weigh in on what a politically divided Congress will mean to the hospital industry. And other hospital news comes out of Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas.

Small Drug Companies Closely Watching Supreme Court Case On Patents

KHN Morning Briefing

A Swiss drugmaker is challenging a 2011 change to the law that no longer allows a company to patent an invention if it was for sale for more than a year before filing a patent application. Meanwhile, Congress also plans to focus on the issue of pharmaceutical patents and lawmakers continue to question the industry’s pricing decisions. And as Capitol Hill gears up for potential action on drug costs, there may be some lessons to be learned from China.

Drugmaker Actelion Agrees To Pay $360M To Settle Kickback Investigation

KHN Morning Briefing

The Justice Department alleged that Actelion Pharmaceuticals violated federal law by using a foundation fund to funnel kickback payments aimed at inducing patients to buy its drugs. Actelion was bought by Johnson & Johnson in 2017, after the alleged actions took place, and admits no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

A Federal Judge Is Making Noise About Halting CVS-Aetna Deal, But What Can He Actually Do About It?

KHN Morning Briefing

Under the law, when the Justice Department strikes an agreement with companies, the deal must be cleared by a federal judge to provide a layer of oversight for those negotiations. In the CVS-Aetna case specifically, that means Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia can decide whether the agreement Justice struck with CVS and Aetna on their Medicare Part D businesses addresses anti-competitive issues. If he finds it does not, the companies can either appeal or renegotiate.

Administration Officials Deny Steering Patients Toward Private Medicare Plans, But Emails Tell A Different Story

KHN Morning Briefing

“Get more benefits for your money,” says one message sent to Medicare beneficiaries. “See if you can save money with Medicare Advantage,” says another. While private plans boast of providing superior-quality care, the evidence is mixed. And experts are worried that the material being sent out by the government doesn’t present the negatives of the plans. Other Medicare news focuses on nursing homes and enrollment.

Tying Drug Prices To What Other Countries Pay: A Pioneering Way To Curb Costs Or The Death Knell For Innovation?

KHN Morning Briefing

The plan to tie prices of drugs to what other countries pay is a lightning rod in the debate over high drug costs. “The countries in the reference pricing have longer life expectancy, better health outcomes, and spend about half of what we on health care,” says David Mitchell, the president of Patients for Affordable Drugs. On the other side, is PhRMA’s Jenny Bryant, who calls the proposal “draconian” and believes it will stifle innovation. Meanwhile, Republicans are siding with the latter position.

New Guidelines Would Grant States Flexibility To Use Health Law Subsidies On Plans That Don’t Meet ACA’s Requirements

KHN Morning Briefing

Under the examples outlined by CMS Administrator Seema Verma, a state could create an entirely new subsidy program, basing aid on age, rather than income, or set income limits higher or lower than the federal requirements. But uncertainty about the validity of the guidance may mean few states will be interested in the new flexibility offered by CMS, because any state looking to implement the ideas could be sued even if the CMS approved its 1332 waiver.

There’s A Revolutionary Procedure That Can Treat Severe Strokes, But Most Hospitals In U.S. Don’t Perform It

KHN Morning Briefing

Going to different hospitals only a few miles away from each other can make a profound difference on the chances of a patient recovering from a stroke. But sometimes local, state and regional rules dictate that ambulance drivers bring patients first to hospitals that don’t do the procedure before they can be transferred. Because the success of thrombectomies are dependent on how fast they are performed in relation to the stroke, that delay can mean a huge difference. Other hospitals news focuses on rural care, EHR improvements, surprise billing, and more.