RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 01/20/2016

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We hope you're enjoying the morning news update from the RealClearHealth Morning Scan. Be sure to also follow RealClearHealth's website throughout the day. If you didn't visit us yesterday, here's some of what you missed:


  • Where We Go From Here on EHRs - Andy Slavitt & Karen DeSalvo, CMS
  • Public Can't Afford Further Delay on EHRs - J. Phillip Gingrey, The Hill
  • End-of-Life Care Not a Uniquely American Problem - Sarah Kliff, Vox

Today's Top Stories

U.S. Limits Obamacare Sign-Up Periods
Spalding & Tracer, Bloomberg
The U.S. government will limit a process that allowed people to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare outside of the normal enrollment period, after health insurers complained that the special sign-up windows were letting people into the program only when they got sick.

United Lost $720 Million on Obamacare Exchanges
Sarah Ferris, The Hill
The company lost $720 million on the newly established ObamaCare exchanges last year, according to a much-anticipated earnings report released Tuesday. About one-third of those losses are due to “advance recognition” of 2016 losses, the company said.

Senate Will Break Up '21st Century Cures' Bill
Caitlin Owens, Morn. Cons.
The Senate will not put forth a comprehensive medical innovation bill that would be a companion measure to the House’s 21st Century Cures bill. Instead, lawmakers are opting to work on several smaller bills that have bipartisan support. In recent weeks, aides said committee members hit partisan snags when discussing a bigger bill.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are helping people understand how to use their health benefits so they can get the right medication for them at the most affordable price. Learn more.

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Pa. Gov Proposes Protections against Balance Billing
Don Sapatkin, PI
The proposal, which includes a 19-page draft bill - it has neither been introduced nor debated by lawmakers - removes consumers from disputes between providers and insurers over out-of-network bills, and requires both sides to agree to binding arbitration of disputes on a tight timeline or face hefty fines.

Use of CT Scans for Minor Injuries Grows
Nancy Shute, NPR
If you fall off a curb, bop your head and go to the ER to make sure you're OK, there's a good chance you'll be trundled off for a CT scan.

Doctors Choose Less Care at End of Life
Dennis Thompson, HealthDay
Doctors facing death are less likely to demand aggressive care that might squeeze out a bit more extra time of life, two new studies show.

Patent Expirations' Major Impact Other Drugs
John LaMattina, Forbes
Anytime a drug becomes generic in the U.S., its price drops dramatically. It is likely that within 12 months, U.S. revenues for both Crestor and Zetia will drop by 90%. That’s to be expected. However, the presence of generic forms for both drugs, rosuvastatin (Crestor) and ezetimibe (Zetia) will have other effects, both commercial and medical.

For Mid-Income Families, ACA Costs Are a Catch-22
McGrory, TBT
For some middle-income earners — especially individuals whose salaries hover around $47,080, the upper limit for receiving tax credits to help offset the cost of coverage — the monthly payments are a financial burden. What's more, many have plans with high deductibles and copays that can make accessing health care virtually impossible.

Appalachia Tests Obamacare's Evolution
Ungar & Kenning, USA Today
If the governor succeeds and changes to Medicaid begin next year, Kentucky would join six other states with specially designed Medicaid expansion programs approved by the federal government — and would be one of the first states to replace the traditional Medicaid expansion envisioned by the ACA with one that includes premiums and higher co-pays.

GAO Wants Better Reporting on Dual-Eligible Demos
V. Dickson, MH
The CMS needs to do a better job overseeing the 12 state-administered demonstration programs intended to improve care of people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

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Making the most of your prescription drug benefits helps you get healthy faster and stay healthy longer, while keeping costs in check. Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are helping people understand how to maximize their benefits so they can get the effective medicines they need at the most affordable price. Learn more.

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