Health Brief: At Least 17 States Seek to Limit Opioid Prescriptions

Government Brief

  • To confront rising rates of opioid abuse, at least 17 states are placing tight restrictions on the number of powerful prescription painkillers doctors can prescribe. The moves have raised alarms among some physicians. (The Washington Post)
  • Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) cast himself as the Senate’s representative for governors when the fight over Obamacare was at its peak several weeks ago. The Delaware Democrat was in constant contact with governors who were most vocal in their opposition to the push, making sure their voices were being heard in the Senate. (USA Today)
  • The Trump administration must soon decide whether to continue funding organizations that help people enroll for coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplaces. What the administration chooses to do could shed light on its larger approach to Obamacare.  (The Wall Street Journal)

Business Brief

  • Mylan N.V. cut its profit forecast for this year and 2018, citing delays in launching new drugs and eroding prices for generics in the United States. (Reuters)
  • California’s Medicaid program is being sued for moving enrollees with complex medical conditions into managed care plans, allegedly contradicting a court order to allow those patients stay in traditional fee-for-service Medicaid. (Kaiser Health News)
  • One in 12 physicians, including nearly one in five family medicine doctors, have accepted payments from drug companies that sell opioid prescription painkillers. (Stat News)

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Carper cast as governors’ lobbyist in health care debate
Nicole Gaudiano, USA Today

When Sen. Tom Carper was shopping for votes to block GOP health care bills, he didn’t just turn to his fellow senators. He turned to their governors.

Health ‘Navigators’ Brace for Decision on Their Funding
Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration must decide within weeks whether to continue funding organizations that help people enroll in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, one of several imminent choices that could signal the administration’s larger approach to the law. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last year awarded $63 million in grants to nearly 100 community organizations that help people sign up for health plans under the 2010 law.

Health Experts Push Fix for Insurance Markets Aimed at Both Parties
Michelle Hackman, The Wall Street Journal

A bipartisan group of health policy experts offered a proposal Wednesday to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s fragile insurance markets, a blueprint intended in part to provide cover for lawmakers seeking to work across the aisle. The group, composed of prominent advisers to former Republican and Democratic presidents, began holding monthly meetings in January to search for points of agreement on a possible package to address rising premiums and insurers leaving the individual insurance market.

Mitch McConnell’s ‘Excessive Expectations’ Comment Draws Trump’s Ire
Matt Flegenheimer and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

President Trump lashed out on Wednesday at the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who suggested this week that the president harbored “excessive expectations” about the pace of congressional progress. “Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, as he and lawmakers took time away from Washington during the August recess. “After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”

Republicans are airing their dirty laundry on Obamacare
Amber Phillips, The Washington Post

They more or less kept it behind closed doors for a couple of weeks, but Republicans are no longer holding back their frustration they couldn’t repeal Obamacare. The blame game has started, and it’s open warfare.

Europe Stocks Track Asia Losses; Dollar, Oil Climb: Markets Wrap
Samuel Potter, Bloomberg

Tension surrounding the Korean peninsula once again sapped global equity markets, with European stocks following their Asian peers into the red as the rhetoric continued and investors remained on edge. The dollar strengthened a day before U.S. inflation data, and oil advanced.


Medi-Cal Sued For Pushing Patients Into Managed Care Despite Judges’ Orders
Emily Bazar, Kaiser Health News

Alondra Diaz can’t get enough of Elmo and Barney, and she adores picture books. The 14-year old, who will enter high school next week, has several complex and debilitating medical conditions, including epilepsy, microcephaly and a mitochondrial disorder.

Poor Medicare patients may spend more on hospital stays
Lisa Rapaport, Reuters

Out-of-pocket spending for hospital care by people with Medicare may be higher for those with lower incomes, because they’re more likely than wealthier Medicare beneficiaries to be kept in the hospital without being officially admitted, a new study suggests. Under Medicare, the government insurance program for the elderly and disabled, people admitted to the hospital pay a fixed out-of-pocket fee that covers the majority of their care there, as well as follow-up acute nursing care and repeat hospitalizations within the first two months after they go home.


How many doctors have received payments from opioid makers? Look here
Ed Silverman, Stat News

One in 12 physicians — and nearly one in five family medicine doctors — have accepted payments from drug makers that sell prescription opioid painkillers, according to a review of federal records. Although the analysis did not examine the extent to which payments may have influenced prescribing, the findings are certain to raise questions about the sway the companies may have over medical practice.

Pharma, Biotech and Devices

With drug overdoses soaring, states limit the length of painkiller prescriptions
Katie Zezima, The Washington Post

States are enacting strict limits on the number of powerful prescription painkillers doctors can prescribe, a move that many believe will help fight the opioid crisis but has raised alarms among some physicians. At least 17 states have enacted rules to curb the number of painkillers doctors can prescribe.

Mylan cuts forecasts on delays in new drugs, weak prices
Michael Erman, Reuters

Mylan NV said on Wednesday that delays in launching key new drugs and eroding prices for generics in the United States will hurt its profitability this year and in 2018. The generic drugmaker said it was no longer including any major U.S. product launches in its forecast for the year, pushing them back to 2018 due to the uncertain U.S. regulatory environment.

Medical device group launches ad campaign to repeal tax
Peter Sullivan, The Hill

The trade group for medical device companies is launching a new advertising campaign to push lawmakers to repeal ObamaCare’s tax on medical devices. The effort comes on the heels of Congress’s failure to pass repeal of the health law, and as various industries are now looking for other avenues, besides full ObamaCare repeal, to abolish particular taxes in the law.

Health IT

Why people trust Apple with their health data more than Google or Amazon
Christina Farr, CNBC

Would you trust a technology company like Apple, Amazon or Google with your health data? More than 1,000 people participated in my Twitter poll on the topic, and the majority of people responding that they would.

CareFirst data breach ruling increases liability risks for insurers in future lawsuits
Evan Sweeney, Fierce Healthcare

A recent appellate court decision to allow a class-action lawsuit over a 2014 data breach at CareFirst to move forward could pave the way for future lawsuits, according to several privacy attorneys. Last week a D.C. appeals court overturned a circuit court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by members of CareFirst claiming a breach that compromised more than 1 million records put them at risk for identity theft.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The ACA stability “crisis” in perspective
Drew Altman, Axios

The big questions about the stability of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces have focused on how fast premiums will rise, and how many plans will participate. But an equally important question, and the heart of the matter politically, is: How many people will be affected by the sharp premium increases?

Repeal, Replace, Repair, Retreat — Republicans’ Health Care Quagmire
Jonathan Oberlander, The New England Journal of Medicine

For 7 years, Republicans vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With Donald Trump in the White House and Republican majorities in Congress, the GOP was poised to make good on that pledge. Yet less than 7 months into the Trump administration, the GOP’s crusade to dismantle Obamacare has, at least for now, collapsed.

Intolerant Democrats Devour Their Own
Karl Rove, The Wall Street Journal

It is impossible to deny that the past six months have been rough for the Republican Party. The GOP Congress failed to fulfill its pledge to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and the president now has a lowly 38% job-approval rating, according to the Real Clear Politics average.

Insurers can profit while improving the lives of people with type 1 diabetes
Derek Rapp, Stat News

As the debate over the future of health care coverage moves in fits and starts, it may seem like any improvements in health care coverage are equally stalled. But they aren’t. Insurance companies can take action now to make immediate differences in people’s lives — especially those with type 1 diabetes.

Research Reports

Receive a surprise medical bill? Here are three federal actions that may address surprise bills
Margaret Darling, et al., Brookings Institution

“Surprise” out-of-network bills are widely seen as an unfair aspect of today’s health care markets. Patients are unfairly surprised when they are billed by a provider not in their insurer’s network where they had no reasonable opportunity to choose a network provide