July 18, 2019 | Trump plan to cut drug costs hits hurdles

July 18, 2019

Industry News

Trump plan to cut drug costs hits hurdles

President Trump’s plan to lower drug costs hit two big setbacks last week. He withdrew a proposal that would have reduced out-of-pocket costs for older consumers out of concern that it would raise premiums. In addition, a federal judge threw out a new requirement that drug companies disclose their prices in television ads. (The New York Times)

MIPS: 98% of clinicians receive bonuses

A larger percentage (97.6%) of clinicians participating in year two of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System will receive a bonus compared to year one (93.1%). However, the number of participants in the program dropped from 1.06 million to 916,058. CMS Administrator Seema Verma calls increases in bonuses "a strong sign that our incremental approach and flexible options lead to clinician success in MIPS." However, others, including Darryl Drevna, senior director of regulatory affairs at AMGA, says such a high percentage suggests the system is flawed. (Modern Healthcare)

Innovation & Transformation

Kidney order could transform care

President Donald Trump’s executive order last week could transform how the country treats kidney disease. The plan has three aims: reduce the number of Americans with end-stage renal disease by increasing preventive care, increase the number of organs available for transplant, and incentivize use of home dialysis or kidney transplants to cut down on the use of high-cost dialysis centers. On this last point, the goal is to shift 80% of patients now on kidney dialysis out of high-cost clinic settings to more convenient and cost-effective home care by the end of the next decade. (Healthcare Dive)

Cali to repay loans for some Medi-Cal docs

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced its commitment to pay $58.6 million in student loans for 247 physicians who agree to care for patients on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. Recipients must ensure that Medi-Cal patients account for 30% of their caseload for five years. (Sacramento Bee; announcement)

Consumers & Providers

Defying expectations, seniors happy about health

Most seniors report feeling positive about their health. And yet, most older Americans have two or more chronic illnesses and higher rates of physical impairment than other age groups. So why the apparent disconnect? It’s all perception. Rather than thinking about health as the lack of illness or disability, they tend to value factors such as vitality, emotional well-being, positive social relationships, remaining active and satisfaction with life, while poor physical functioning plays a less important role. (Kaiser Health News)

Cutting residency hours doesn’t harm patients

Reductions in residency training hours don’t significantly affect care quality, according to a new BMJ study. The findings aren’t likely to settle the debate over the issue, author Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, of Harvard told Medscape Medical News. But he reminds colleagues that times have changed. “It’s important to recognize that hospital care is different than what it was 20 to 30 years ago, in a way that reduces the role of a single physician in driving patient outcomes. It’s possible that the trainee of the future may adequately be prepared for independent practice with less than 80 hours a week during residency.” (Medscape Medical News; BMJ)

New & Noted

Surprise billing bill pulled: California lawmakers last week withdrew legislation that would have protected some patients from surprise medical bills for emergency care. The stated reason? Opposition from hospitals. Lawmakers plan to try again next year. (Kaiser Health News)

Diabetes and children’s brains: Children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at an early age have slower growth in brain areas linked to mild cognitive deficits, according to research presented at a recent American Diabetes Association meeting. Researchers also saw that areas of slower brain growth were associated with higher average blood sugar levels. (WebMD)

At-home infusion: Under a new CMS proposal, Medicare patients will have access to a new permanent home infusion therapy benefit. To combat fraud, CMS intends to eliminate prepayment for home health services. The home infusion benefit is part of the 21st Century Cures Act. (Healthcare Dive)


More elderly are dying from falls

More older adults (75+) are dying from falls today than they did 20 years ago, and the rate of fatal falls for this age group has roughly doubled. The number and types of medications patients take is one reason, explains Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, professor and chief of geriatrics at Oregon Health & Science University. There are things patients can do to reduce the risk, including Tai Chi. “A lot of older adults and a lot of physicians think that falling is inevitable as you age, but in reality it’s not,” she says. (NPR)

MarketVoices...quotes worth reading

“People hit their 80s and 90s, look around and feel pretty good about just being alive.”--Ellen Idler, PhD, professor of sociology at Emory, in Kaiser Health News

Jorden Gunessever