Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced a deal to stabilize the individual insurance market by funding cost-sharing reduction payments through 2019, giving states more flexibility to skirt certain Affordable Care Act requirements, allowing consumers over age 30 to purchase copper plans, and providing $106 million to support ACA enrollment. However, the proposal garnered mixed messages from President Donald Trump, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not said whether he will allow a vote, and some Republicans said they oppose it.
Several senators said they want to amend or repeal the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act -- legislation that reportedly weakened the government's ability to fight the opioid epidemic. Among those pushing for outright repeal are Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who introduced a bill that would repeal the act. However, some lawmakers who sponsored the original legislation took issue with criticism of the law, saying the affected government agencies helped write it.
Eleven accountable care organizations participating in the CMS Next Generation program and six ACOs in the Pioneer program earned payments for 2016, while seven lost money and three dropped out. The Next Generation program grew to an estimated 44 health systems for 2017.
Eight percent of 7,590 head impacts among youth football athletes were considered high-magnitude, or impacts more than 40 times greater than the force of gravity, according to a study in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics. The findings, based on data involving 45 fourth- to seventh-grade players ages 9 to 13, also showed the highest likelihood of high-magnitude head impacts among those who played as quarterback, running back and linebacker.
A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found white men who got three times the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week over 25 years had a higher risk of developing coronary artery calcification by middle age, compared with black men and men who worked out less. Researchers said more studies are needed on the biological mechanisms involved in CAC, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
President Donald Trump reportedly is considering Alex Azar, a former HHS deputy secretary under President George W. Bush who in 2007 went on to work for Eli Lilly and Co., where he led the drugmaker's US operations from 2012 to January. CMS Administrator Seema Verma and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb are no longer being considered for the role, administration sources say.
Health trends in southwest Florida include walking groups, which have been created through the Blue Zones Project and the Million Mile Movement, and workplace wellness programs. FineMark National Bank & Trust in Naples achieved Blue Zones worksite status through a subtle approach that included having an onsite chef who prepares healthy foods and twice-daily officewide walk breaks.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday heard from drug industry stakeholders, including Pharmaceutical Care Management Association President and CEO Mark Merritt, at a hearing on drug prices. "Like manufacturers in other industries, drugmakers set prices according to supply, demand and the level of competitive alternatives available," Merritt said.
Johnson & Johnson has been able to hold Remicade's market despite the availability of two biosimilar competitors in part because the biosimilars are not seen as interchangeable, says Joaquin Duato, J&J worldwide chairman for pharmaceuticals.
Insurers are predicting a decline in enrollment as multiple changes -- higher rates, reduced subsidies, confusion about the political status of the Affordable Care Act, a shorter enrollment period and reduced advertising budget -- are in play with the enrollment period for 2018 starting in two weeks. Industry leaders say they are doing their own outreach to ensure enrollees understand their coverage options and when to sign up, while some plans have developed new products such as lower-cost bronze level plans for people who will not get subsidies and more short-term products.
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