Latest Morning Briefing Stories
Media outlets report on news from Puerto Rico, Mississippi, Ohio, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, Missouri, Maryland, Texas, Colorado, Washington, Wisconsin, California, Oregon and North Carolina.
Approving state waivers to change Medicaid funding to block grants would be among the Trump administration’s most controversial moves to reshape Medicaid. While supporters of block granting say it gives states more flexibility, critics warn that it creates incentives for states to cut aid for its most vulnerable populations. Meanwhile, Medicaid expansion advocates are frustrated by the last remaining red-state holdouts.
Tech companies are eager to get into health care, but low engagement rates and drop-offs plague efforts to get the general public to buy into digital health options. In other health and technology news: tech giants’ access to hospitals, rules for artificial intelligence, and wearable devices.
The American College of Physicians said it’s not signing on to specific proposals from the 2020 Democratic candidates, but is broadly supporting a single-payer system or a public option model. In other health care industry and costs news: surprise medical bills, rising spending, the high price of fertility treatments, medical debt, the urgent clinic industry, and more.
Without government intervention, the United Nations estimates that resistant infections could kill 10 million people annually by 2050. “We urgently need research and development,” said Sarah Paulin, of WHO. “We still have a window of opportunity but we need to ensure there is investment now so we don’t run out of options for future generations.” In other pharmaceutical news: generic prices, updates on the Chris Collins insider trading case, CAR-T therapy, Medicare programs, and drug recalls.
President Donald Trump reportedly called HHS Secretary Alex Azar following a meeting about elections and polling where he was told that voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on health care issues.
The issue of protecting patients from surprise medical bills has been looked at as a rare problem that may draw a bipartisan compromise. But lawmakers have yet to settle on who gets stuck with the bill if not the patients. The House Ways and Means committee is just the latest to try put forward legislation. In other health care industry and costs news: air ambulance coverage, state’s efforts on surprise billing, CEOs’ earnings, Medicare payments, and more.
The gene therapy, which isn’t officially priced yet, was extremely successful in trials. Its maker says that insurers seem on board with paying somewhere between $2 million and $3 million for the drug, which would break the previous record held by Novartis’ spinal muscular atrophy drug. Experts warned when Novartis’ drug was approved at its $2.1 million price that it was setting a bad precedent. In other pharmaceutical news: more updates from the JP Morgan conference, the science behind the Ebola vaccine, a diabetes pill, and more.
The comments from FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, highlight the shifting politics around high drug prices. Giving Medicare more negotiating power is an idea more typically championed by Democrats.
Nebraska wants to create a “prime” tier for those meeting work requirements and a more “basic” tier for those who aren’t. The model might allow the state to implement work requirements while alleviating courts’ concerns about people being dropped from enrollment. Medicaid news comes out of California, Missouri and Ohio, as well.
The push to allocate supplemental funds comes as the island reels from a series of catastrophic earthquakes this month while still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. The Trump administration announced earlier this week that it would release billions in aid that it held up since last year, but officials say Puerto Rico has to agree to increased oversight for the funds.
Media outlets report on news from Mississippi, New York, Texas, California, Wisconsin, Ohio, Georgia and Florida.
A group of business leaders, law enforcement and county officials, all of whom identified themselves as conservative or Republican, say the state has been missing out on an opportunity to help people. While elsewhere red states are starting to be won over to the promises of expansion, in North Carolina opposition remains. Medicaid news comes out of Florida and Kansas as well.
“I thought, ‘What if people out there don’t know that they have the right to tell those people to screw off?’” said Shaunna Burns, whose TikTok video helped a 22-year-old woman get her hospital bill reduced to zero.
Last year, Juul was going full-speed ahead on expansion, but the vaping outbreak and other setbacks have caused the company to reevaluate. Vaping news comes out of New Hampshire, as well.
Although physician burnout overall decreased slightly from 46% to 42%, a new survey finds. The stage of a doctor’s career might account for much of the age-related differences, rather than something inherently generational, the researchers say. In other health personnel news, a look at the consequences when surgeons don’t use checklists.
The New Hampshire legislation would bar generic drug companies from hiking prices over 50% in a one-year period. A court struck down a similar law in Maryland on the grounds that the state was trying to legislate beyond its borders.
UnitedHealth executives said they added 370,000 Advantage members during the open enrollment period that ended Dec. 7, which reflects growth of about 140% over the prior annual enrollment period. As the program grows in popularity, insurers clamor for a piece of the lucrative marketplace.
“Medicare for All” has been a hot topic throughout the 2020 Democratic primary race even as its popularity ebbs and flows. Now, as early voting states prepare to head for the polls, advocates hope to bolster sometimes-flagging support for the proposal.
A new study finds that coverage gains made in the early years of the health law are slipping. Researchers blame the shift largely on continued lack of coverage for adults in the 15 states that hadn’t expanded Medicaid.