RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/02/2016

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How Would Medicare Part D Drug Price Negotiations Work?
Shih, HA
Proponents of government negotiation argue that HHS -- because of its significant purchasing power -- can more effectively negotiate drug prices than individual Part D plans. Opponents argue that allowing the government to negotiate prices for Part D would inhibit innovation and limit beneficiary access to medications.

The Reason Medicare Is a Lousy Drug Negotiator
Sanger-Katz, Upshot
A good negotiator needs to be able to walk away. That is a rule that, surely, Donald Trump knows. And yet in suggesting that Medicare could find big discounts by letting the government negotiate directly over drug prices, he seems to have forgotten it.

Many Sides Push for Drug Pricing Rules
Richard Mark Kirkner, Man. Care
When Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of its toxoplasmosis drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 a pill, it captured the attention of policymakers in Washington that drug pricing was out of control. Now leaders in Congress are holding hearings to probe how drug companies set their prices and proposing legislation that’s aimed at reining in spending on pharmaceuticals.

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Painful Costs to Treat Common Ailments
Laura Ungar, USA Today
While the cost of cancer and HIV medicines tend to grab headlines, vaulting drug prices increasingly include medicines for more common conditions afflicting millions.

Suing over Drug Prices Is Unlikely to Succeed
Ed Silverman, Pharmalot
In a controversial maneuver, the Massachusetts attorney general is threatening to file a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences if the California drug maker doesn’t lower its prices for a pair of costly hepatitis C treatments. Legal experts are calling this a long shot. Consumer advocates believe this is a brilliant tactic. And in truth, both sides have a point.

Medicaid Expansion Boosts Ind. Hospitals
Maureen Groppe, Indy Star
As Indiana enters its second year of expanded Medicaid coverage created by the Affordable Care Act, hospitals around the state report it has helped patients gain needed coverage. But it’s helping hospitals, too.

'Automating Empathy' for Patients after Surgery
B. Feder Ostrov, KHN
It may sound like an oxymoron, but it’s a powerful draw for hospitals and other health care providers scrambling to adjust to sweeping changes in how they’re paid for the care they provide. Whether the emails actually trigger an empathetic connection or not, the idea of tailoring regular electronic communications to patients counts as an innovation in health care with potential to save money and improve quality.

New Basic Training for Next-Gen Physicians
Sandler, Modern Healthcare
Proponents say immediate immersion with the seriously ill should instill greater empathy for such patients, spark interest in taking up primary care and make future doctors more attuned to helping patients navigate the complexities of a highly specialized healthcare system, which is the essence of the medical home model for care coordination being touted by Medicare and other payers.

Medical Technology Firms Branch Out
Joseph Walker, Wall Street Journal
Medical technology firms Abbott Laboratories and Stryker Corp. announced separate acquisitions with a combined value of $8.6 billion, aiming to further expand their portfolios beyond implanted devices and appeal to hospitals and clinics looking to bring down costs.

CDC Endorses a More Effective HPV Vaccine
Tara Haelle, NPR
One officially moves the recommendation for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine a few years earlier for children with a history of sexual abuse and officially recommends the HPV-9 vaccine over other HPV vaccines. Another offers all older teens the option of a meningitis vaccine previously recommended only for high-risk children.

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