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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

The Dark Side Of Artificial Intelligence: Increased Efficiency Comes With Ominous Threat Of Vulnerability To Hackers

KHN Morning Briefing

A report warns that artificial intelligence can be easily duped with tiny pieces of data. The authors say bad actors could hack into records and make it seem like there’s an illness there that isn’t. But more likely is that doctors, hospitals and other organizations could manipulate the A.I. in billing or insurance software in an effort to maximize the money coming their way. In other health technology news: a day of reckoning is coming for digital health, the FDA calls for tighter security of electronic health records following a KHN report, and data breaches from the states.

Transparency At Heart Of Recent Efforts To Curb High Drug Costs, But Economists Say That’s ‘Missing The Mark’

KHN Morning Briefing

Economists say that part of the reason price transparency won’t do much to the market is not only because consumers don’t pay list prices but they also don’t really choose which medication they’re buying. And, unlike with toothpaste or soda, it’s not easy for a consumer to switch brands of medicine. In other pharmaceutical news: pharmacy benefits managers will have their day getting grilled by lawmakers, how the NAFTA deal may hinge on intellectual property protections for pharma products, and more.

The Eye-Popping Price Tags On Life-Saving Air Ambulance Rides Are Spiking Despite States’ Efforts To Rein In Costs

KHN Morning Briefing

Sixty-nine percent of the 20,700 air ambulance transports–which cost up to $40,600–taken in 2017 by privately insured patients were out of network, meaning that the costs may not be fully covered, a Government Accountability Office report finds. And it will only get worse: Companies have hiked their prices by 60 percent, despite states’ efforts to put controls in place. In other health care costs news: the price tag on treating sepsis, surprise medical bills, and what the U.S. is spending on health care.

Lengthy Training, Licensing That Health Care Occupations Require Creating Significant Skill Gap For Those Looking For Jobs

KHN Morning Briefing

“There just aren’t enough places and schools to get trained for how many people we need in those roles,” said economist Tara Sinclair. An aging population and increase in wealth has contributed to higher demand for health care services, and the skills gap is only going to have a greater impact on the booming industry as it grows. In other health industry news: costly insurance, a hospital whistleblower case, health stocks, state employee premiums, cheating doctors and more.

Curtain Pulled Back On Group Behind Deluge Of Public Comments Over HHS’ Proposal To End Rebate System

KHN Morning Briefing

More than 5,000 of the current 18,000 comments were made public this week, and nearly all of them support the proposal with very similar wording that matches a RetireSafe-sponsored form letter available at the website SubmitForChange.org. In other pharmaceutical news: Pfizer makes a gene-therapy deal, AbbVie is sued over its patent deals, and the FDA is taking steps to cut down on blood pressure medication recalls.

In Third Suit Against Medicaid Work Requirements, Plaintiffs Say Trump Administration Is ‘Bypassing Legislative Process’

KHN Morning Briefing

New Hampshire residents are challenging the Trump administration’s approval of work requirements for Medicaid recipients, after suits filed in Arkansas and Kentucky. Critics of the work requirement waivers say they are an attack on the poor. “This approval will not promote coverage, but it will result in significant coverage losses, and that is the administration’s goal,” said Jane Perkins, legal director of the National Health Law Program, which filed the suit on behalf of the New Hampshire residents. Meanwhile, an analysis finds that most of the 18,000 people kicked of Arkansas’ Medicaid program because they didn’t report work hours are still uninsured. The data contradicts statements from Trump administration and state officials, who have claimed that most of the people who lost Medicaid have found jobs.

University Of Illinois At Chicago Acknowledged Failure To Catch Warnings Signs Over Child Psychiatrist Who Violated Research Protocols

KHN Morning Briefing

According to new documents, the University of Illinois at Chicago Institutional Review Board, the committee responsible for protecting research subjects, improperly fast-tracked approval of Dr. Mani Pavuluri’s clinical trial, didn’t catch serious omissions from the consent forms parents had to sign and allowed children to enroll in the study even though they weren’t eligible. Still, UIC officials have continued to blame only Pavuluri, and have downplayed the institution’s role in the research.

In Efforts To Halt Teen Vaping, A Miffed Gottlieb Describes ‘Disconnect’ Between Health Officials And E-Cigarette Makers

KHN Morning Briefing

Even after Altria and Juul said they’ll take extra efforts to prevent teens from getting addicted, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb isn’t convinced and called for a meeting with them last week. He told Bloomberg “The e-cigarette industry has been overly dismissive” and he’s considering temporarily pulling pod-based nicotine products off the markets. Other FDA news looks at new strategies for HIV drug development.

When Drug Costs Get Too High, Patients Are Skipping Doses Or Just Not Taking Medication

KHN Morning Briefing

Experts are worried this behavior could be extremely dangerous for the patients. “We have lots of treatments where if you don’t take them exactly as prescribed, you might be doing more harm than good,” said Stacie Dusetzina, a health policy researcher at Vanderbilt University. Other ways patients are trying to control costs are by asking for cheaper drugs from doctors or seeking out alternative therapies. Meanwhile, Ohio’s attorney general is suing UnitedHealth’s OptumRx unit alleging it overcharged the state for prescription drugs.

Software Tool To Determine Which Veterans Are Eligible For Private Care So Flawed That It Could Derail System

KHN Morning Briefing

A review conducted by the U.S. Digital Service, an elite group of software developers and designers employed by the White House, recommended that the VA should scrap the eligibility tool and start over. The report predicted that the tool would generate errors or run slowly or crash, and that these glitches would lengthen each appointment by five to 10 minutes.