RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/08/2016

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Drug Industry Launches Ads Aimed at Lawmakers
Joseph Walker, WSJ
The pharmaceutical industry, under fire this election season for rising drug prices, is ramping up a new advertising campaign designed to improve its reputation with lawmakers as it lobbies against any effort to rein in prescription costs.

A Gutsy Move: Valeant Runs Super Bowl Ad
Meghana Keshavan, MedCity
Valeant Pharmaceuticals let loose its anthropomorphized, antsy “Gut Guy” during the third quarter of the 2016 Super Bowl. This ad for diarrhea drug Xifaxan is already making a splash: You can see the commercial here. But, considering the steep costs of Super Bowl ads, is it funny enough to excuse Valeant’s shameless price gouging?

Super Bowl Ad Proves How Much U.S. Loves Opioids
Todd Frankel, WP
If you weren’t paying close attention to the simple black-and-white television advertisement that ran midway through the second quarter of Super Bowl 50, you’d never know what it was about.

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How Do Pharmaceutical Companies Set Prices?
Alison Kodjak, NPR
Drug companies are under increasing pressure to keep prices under control. At a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle blasted two companies that have instituted huge price increases. NPR explores how drug companies establish prices for a drug.

CMS Announces New Special Enrollment Period
Timothy Jost, Health Aff.
The new special enrollment period recognized on February 5 is available for consumers who are without marketplace coverage because of their failure to file their taxes and reconcile advance premium tax credits (APTC) for 2014. The ACA provides that otherwise eligible individuals who enroll in qualified health plans through the marketplaces and have incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level are entitled to advance premium tax credits (APTC) based on their anticipated income.

Uninsured Present Tough Test for Obamacare
Peter Sullivan, The Hill
Obamacare faces a tougher path ahead in enrolling the roughly 30 million people who remain uninsured, despite the record gains already made. The administration signed up 12.7 million people for coverage in 2016, a significant number, but only a small bump from the 11.7 million enrolled last year. Officials warned from the start that this year would be the hardest yet, because the people most eager to sign up already had.

Clinton Lobbied on Health Care from State Dept.
D. Herszenhorn, NYT
Emails released last week by the State Department that were found on Mrs. Clinton’s private server show that she was keenly interested in the administration’s push to win passage of the health care law.

Biden's Moon Shot and the 21st Century Cures Bill
Steve Findlay, THCB
Lawmakers in Washington are gearing up to pass major, far-reaching legislation on drug approval and cancer research. This is a good thing in the main but—no surprise here—Republicans and Democrats differ on approach and details, and things are already getting messy. This makes the proposed legislation very risky. It could all implode in an election year, but momentum is building fast and both parties have something to gain by passage.

The Big Problem With High Deductibles
Margot Sanger-Katz, Upshot
Deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing have been creeping up in the United States since the late 1990s. A typical employer health plan now asks an individual to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket before coverage kicks in for most services. The most popular plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges require customers to pay several times as much. Even Medicare charges deductibles. People tend to hate these features, but they were not devised to be cruel. Rather, they were fashioned with economic theory in mind.

FDA Crackdown Could Shut Stem Cell Clinics
Usha Lee McFarling, Stat
Federal regulators are preparing to crack down on scores of clinics across the United States that offer pricey stem cell therapies for conditions ranging from autism to multiple sclerosis to erectile dysfunction without any scientific evidence that they work.

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