Obstacles await as Congress resumes health care fight
Alan Fram, The Associated Press
Republican hopes for repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama’s health care law are still twitching in Congress, though barely. Leaders lack the votes to pass something and face a fresh obstacle — the Senate parliamentarian ruled Friday that Republicans only have the ability to dismantle the law with 51 votes until the end of the month.
Senate’s Obamacare fixes would build on heavy lifting by states
Adam Cancryn, Politico
While Congress was busy bickering over repealing the health law, officials in red and blue states worked frantically to soothe anxious insurers, tamp down rate increases and insulate their markets from the ceaseless chaos in Washington. The result is an Obamacare system that’s still vulnerable, but far from the “disaster” President Donald Trump and his top health officials describe.
The Same Agency That Runs Obamacare Is Using Taxpayer Money to Undermine It
Audrey Carlsen and Haeyoun Park, The New York Times
The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would slash spending on advertising and promotion for the Affordable Care Act, but it has already been waging a multipronged campaign against it. Despite several failed efforts by Republican lawmakers to repeal it, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.
ACA allies plot their own enrollment push
Sam Baker, Axios
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are putting together a new effort to promote enrollment, hoping to make up for at least some of the Trump administration’s cuts to that outreach. The plan is still under wraps for now; an announcement could come as early as this week.
How Trump Can Succeed At Signing Up People For Obamacare — If He Wants To
Jeffrey Young, HuffPost
President Donald Trump and his administration are about to be responsible for managing the next sign-up season on the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, a 2010 law he’s actively trying to repeal and about which he has nothing good to say. President Barack Obama and his team had plenty of trouble running these exchanges, and they actively supported and promoted enrollment for four years.
Stocks Bounce as Traders Refocus on Central Banks: Markets Wrap
Robert Brand, Bloomberg
European stocks bounced after Monday’s losses as traders shifted focus from North Korea to a week packed with central-bank decisions, Federal Reserve speakers and economic data that will help illuminate the path of the global economy. Most industry sectors in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained as data from China to the euro area pointed to a resurgent global economy.
Deadline Looms for Insurers to File Rate Proposals
Anna Wilde Matthews, The Wall Street Journal
A deadline for insurers to file 2018 prices for health insurance sold through Affordable Care Act exchanges arrives Tuesday, but state regulators are still struggling to make decisions about pricing and coverage amid uncertainty in federal health policy. The upshot is confusion in what is typically an orderly, regimented regulatory process for reviewing insurance offerings that will go on sale to consumers on Nov. 1.
State insurance commissioners under pressure in health-care drama
Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News
With insurance premiums rising amid congressional Republicans’ failed attack on the Affordable Care Act, a group of bureaucrats whom few Americans can identify hold considerable power over consumers’ health plans: state insurance commissioners. Elected in 11 states, appointed in the others, they are central characters in the unfolding drama that is the nation’s health coverage.
Anthem Will Offer Obamacare In Otherwise ‘Bare’ Missouri Counties
Bruce Japsen, Forbes
Anthem said it would offer individual coverage under the Affordable Care Act in “68 counties in Missouri that otherwise would not have health insurance for their residents,” although it is still scaling back from the 85 counties where the insurer sells Obamacare plans this year. The move, announced Friday by the nation’s second-largest health insurer, is in contrast to its decisions to exit the ACA individual market on a larger scale in Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada and Wisconsin, where Anthem has for years sold coverage under the Blue Cross Blue Shield brand.
Minnesota Finds a Way to Slow Soaring Health Premiums
Robert Pear, The New York Times
Last fall, as consumers in Minnesota were facing health insurance rate increases of 50 percent or more, Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, said the Affordable Care Act was “no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people.” The state’s top insurance regulator said the Minnesota market was “on the verge of collapse.”
Detective, nurse altercation could spur review of hospital policies
Harris Meyer, Modern Healthcare
In a case that’s gone viral, a Salt Lake City nurse endured a police detective’s rough treatment, handcuffing, and arrest to uphold her hospital’s policy of not allowing police to draw blood from a patient without an arrest, a search warrant, or the patient’s consent. The incident is likely to spur hospital administrators to evaluate their policies surrounding police access to patients, said Jennifer Mensik, a nursing instructor at Arizona State University and vice president of continuing education for OnCourse Learning.
Healthcare hiring cut in half from July to August
Maria Castellucci, Modern Healthcare
Healthcare hiring slowed significantly in August compared to the white-hot average gain of 37,950 jobs added to the industry during the previous two months. The industry produced 20,200 jobs in August, less than half of July’s 40,900 new healthcare jobs added, according to the most recent jobs report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pharma, Biotech and Devices
Novartis names drugs chief as CEO to deliver return to growth
John Miller, Reuters
Novartis (NOVN.S) CEO Joe Jimenez will step down on Feb. 1 and hand over to drug development chief Vas Narasimhan to decide the fate of $50 billion in assets and make good on a pledge to return the Swiss company to sales growth. Jimenez, who will have been at the helm for eight years when he retires, has hived off animal health, vaccines and over-the-counter drugs businesses at Novartis to focus on generally more profitable prescription medicines, particularly in cancer.
Industry coalition finalizes clinical decision support guidelines aimed at self-regulation
Evan Sweeney, Fierce Healthcare
A coalition of organizations interested in making or using clinical decision support software has finalized voluntary guidelines aimed at self-regulating new technology that uses data and machine learning to assist physicians with more accurate diagnoses. The Clinical Decision Support Coalition, led by Bradley Merrill Thompson, a medical device attorney with Epstein Becker Green, finalized draft guidelines for CDS software released in May after reviewing public comments.
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
The Pharmaceutical Industry’s Social Contract With Patients
Joanna Shepherd, Morning Consult
In recent months, the public outcry over drug prices has been somewhat drowned out by the controversy surrounding efforts to reform the Affordable Care Act. Although the administration is still expected to issue an executive order targeting drug pricing soon, the current lull presents an opportunity to evaluate recent efforts to constrain drug prices.
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal
One of the more evidence-free claims on the left is that the Affordable Care Act worked brilliantly before Republicans tried to dismantle it. Witness the claim this week that the Trump Administration is trying to tank the law’s exchanges, which are struggling from lack of consumer choice and affordability, not from a lack of government marketing.
Health care truth GOP must accept: America doesn’t want a free market
Andrew Cline, USA Today
Republicans in Washington have thus far failed to deliver on a signature campaign promise — to repeal Obamacare — despite controlling the House, Senate and White House. After their last flop, the party’s various factions pointed fingers faster than an all-mime production of “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.”
Opioids Aren’t the Only Pain Drugs to Fear
Jane E. Brody, The New York Times
Last month, a White House panel declared the nation’s epidemic of opioid abuse and deaths “a national public health emergency,” a designation usually assigned to natural disasters. A disaster is indeed what it is, with 142 Americans dying daily from drug overdoses, a fourfold increase since 1999, more than the number of people killed by gun homicides and vehicular crashes combined.
Public Insurance and Psychotropic Prescription Medications for Mental Illness
Johanna Catherine Maclean et al., The National Bureau of Economic Research
Mental illnesses are prevalent in the United States and globally, and cost is a critical barrier to treatment receipt for many afflicted individuals. Affordable insurance coverage can permit access to effective healthcare services and treatment of mental illnesses.