April 11, 2019 | A pack of Camels, soda and a checkup

Industry News

Medicare for All? Depends on what you mean

Understanding Medicare for All means defining your terms. Consider: When FTI Consulting asked voters whether they support a policy that extends Medicare coverage to all Americans under the age of 65, nearly two-thirds said they would. When asked if all Americans under 65 should be required to enroll in Medicare, support dropped to 38%. Interestingly, the only demographic group to support mandatory enrollment in Medicare was young male voters. (FTI Journal)

Three drug makers pay millions in kickback settlement

Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck and Alexion Pharmaceuticals will pay a combined $122.6 million to resolve Justice Department Anti-Kickback claims. The allegation: They illegally used copay assistance programs to entice health plan beneficiaries to buy their drugs. “Pharmaceutical companies undercut a key safeguard against rising drug costs when they create assistance funds to serve as conduits for the companies to subsidize the copays of their own drugs,” Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt said in a statement. The Feds are aggressively pursuing drugmakers that donate to programs that give patients free medication or copay assistance, Becker’s Hospital Review reports. (Becker’s Hospital ReviewHealthLeaders Media)

Innovation & Transformation

Alexa gets HIPAA compliant

Amazon has unveiled its initiative to allow health care companies to develop programs that allow Alexa to transmit and receive protected health information. The first six were announced last week. Depending on the company, patients can book appointments, track blood glucose levels, find the nearest urgent care center and more. For example, Boston Children’s Hospital has developed a program for the parents and caregivers of children recovering from surgery, allowing them to access discharge instructions, update care teams with progress and receive information on post-op appointments. (Modern Healthcare)

A pack of Camels, soda and a checkup

As revenue from prescription drugs slows, CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance are focusing on chronic care and turning hundreds of stores into treatment centers for people with chronic illnesses. CVS and Walgreens say their vast networks, convenience and the data on pharmacy customers make them well-suited to the task. But, asks The Wall Street Journal, will customers take the purveyors of junk food--and in the case of Walgreens, tobacco--seriously as health care providers? (The Wall Street Journal)

Consumers & Providers

Providers may be getting used to risk

Providers may be leaving the CMS voluntary bundled payment program but, overall, they seem to be getting used to the idea of greater risk, according to a new Avalere report. “That there is still robust participation in this program, a risk-based model that’s voluntary […] suggests that providers are increasingly feeling comfortable and ready to assume that risk,” Avelere’s Gabriel Sullivan, a coauthor of the report, tells FierceHealthcare. (FierceHealthcare; report)

Improving access to health food: The Store

Nashville’s Belmont University, in collaboration with country music star Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, broke ground last week on "The Store." It will be devoted to helping people in need shop for healthy food. Families who are referred by nonprofit and government agencies can shop free for one year. It will be staffed by student volunteers. Paisley noted how the store preserves the patrons’ dignity. “They can go to The Store and shop in a completely normal way, from choosing the food to checking out, but with no money exchanging hands." (Rolling Stone)

New & Noted

Speedy delivery: CVS Pharmacy has expanded its same-day delivery of prescription drugs throughout the United States. Its partner Shipt will handle the delivery. (Advisory Board Daily Briefing)

New owners, stat!: PatientsLikeMe needs a buyer. In 2017, it sold a majority stake to China’s iCarbonX, which allowed it to take advantage of the Chinese company’s technology. But as part of a crackdown on Chinese investment, the Trump administration has ordered a divestiture. (CNBC)

HSA, revitalized: Amazon’s move to allow consumers to use their HSA or FSA to purchase eligible items not only bolsters the retailer’s health care presence; it increases the visibility of HSAs. “By accepting HSA dollars, Amazon is finally giving this untapped savings tool its moment to shine,” according to an opinion piece from the CEO at Amino, an employee financial-wellness platform. (Employee Benefit News)


Up close with a safety-net clinic

The Providers, a documentary that premiered Monday, looks at El Centro Family Health, a 25-clinic FQHC in northern New Mexico. It follows three health care professionals “as they work to reach rural Americans who would otherwise be left out of the healthcare system. With intimate access, the documentary shows the transformative power of providers’ relationships with underserved patients.” Clips and a preview are available on the PBS site. (PBS)

MarketVoices...quotes worth reading

“It’s mind boggling to me that they can say the center of the health care system will be a retail outlet that sells Doritos as well as prescription drugs.”--Lawton Burns, a health care management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, quoted in The Wall Street Journal

Jorden Gunessever