Improving physician behavior probably ranks somewhat lower on hospital priority lists these days than getting ready to avoid penalties for early readmissions, which are mandated by the Affordable Care Act. A study by IMA Consulting says that many hospitals are still not prepared to deal with this. The study cites the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in stating that “nearly half of all general acute care hospitals are at risk of payment reductions.” The penalties are slated to go into effect Oct. 1…. The Supreme Court’s upholding of health reform ensures, at least until November, that adults up to age 26 may stay on their parents’ policies. But UnitedHealthcare, Humana, and Aetna weren’t taking any chances. Before the ruling, they said that they would continue the policy no matter what happens with health reform… States’ Medicaid ACO efforts are at an early stage, as officials grapple with “relatively lengthy planning and implementation processes,” says an issue paper by the Kaiser Family Foundation. “While Medicaid ACOs are a strategy to more directly engage providers and provider communities in improving care, cost-containment is also a significant motivating factor for many states.”
House Republicans come out with their ACA alternative. A continuous coverage surcharge replaces the individual mandate. But where’s the CBO score?
The biosimilar segment of the pharmaceutical industry is on fire. Some 700 biosimilars are at some stage of development, and more than 660 companies are involved in some way in the biosimilars land rush. Still, only a handful may get on the market in the next few years.
No one knows how much of an effect biosimilars will have on oncology expenditures. Pricing and market share are in a large, opaque “to be determined” cloud. But there’s certainly potential for a major impact that could lower oncology expenditures by millions, if not billions.
The future of biosimilars in this country is nothing if not uncertain. Most immediately, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case that will determine the timing of the 180-day waiting period before a biosimilar can go on the market. But there are larger and longer-term issues at play as well.
While coupons help individual consumers, they are also having a major impact on the insurance industry and anyone responsible for paying health care bills. Insurers and pharmacy benefit managers complain that they foil formularies and other pricing strategies designed to steer consumers to less-expensive drugs.
The hard truth is that telehealth’s future—its size, its contours—will depend a lot on what payers will be willing to pay for. Currently, commercial plans cover only a limited number of services. In addition, research suggests that there may be quality and utilization problems.
Insurers should consider covering new drug-delivery devices that can improve outcomes while lowering disease-specific pharmacy and long-term overall health care costs. Managing these devices in the pharmacy benefit will consolidate volume-based purchasing and capitalize on PBM strategies for improving adherence.
Basaglar is coming on the scene during tumultuous times for insulin products. Manufacturers are under attack for price hikes. There are allegations of backroom rebate deals. And a class-action lawsuit has been brought on behalf of uninsured patients, charging insulin makers with setting artificially high prices.
Evaluating the quality of telemedicine care is about as easy as evaluating the quality of health care, period, and researchers are still ironing out the methodological kinks. That may be one reason research results are all over the place. This article involved reviewing nine such studies, and the findings are a mixed bag.
The results can be tragic. Patients with addictions are unlikely to wait the hours or days it takes health insurers to approve the medications they need. Insurers are changing their practices, but not without some outside pressure.