RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/18/2016

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Intermountain Plan Promises to Hold Line on Costs
Reed Abelson, NYT
Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit health system in Salt Lake City, is trying something virtually unheard-of: promising to sharply cut costs rather than pass them on. Its new health plan, SelectHealth Share, is guaranteeing to hold yearly rate increases to one-third to one-half less than what many employers across the country typically face.

Data Shows MNsure Shoppers Are Getting Older
Kyle Potter, AP
The state's health insurance exchange celebrated meeting its goals for private coverage signups after enrollment closed at the end of January, finally hitting a critical goal after two years of setbacks. But the details behind those numbers show the share of residents 55 and older who bought insurance through MNsure have jumped by 7 percent since 2015, while the pool of younger enrollees shrank.

Calif. Marketplace May Require Agent Commissions
Chad Terhune, CHL
California’s health exchange may require its health plans to pay sales commissions to insurance agents to keep insurers from shunning the sickest and costliest patients. Covered California is working on a proposal that would force the plans to pay commissions effective next year, said Executive Director Peter Lee.

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Kynect Was Not Sustainable, Ky. Officials Say
John Cheves, Lexington HL
The state’s Kynect health insurance exchange is a financially unsustainable boondoggle that has cost $330 million, Gov. Matt Bevin’s top health officials told lawmakers at the Capitol Tuesday. Additionally, state spending on Medicaid will jump by 20 percent in the next two-year budget, to $3.7 billion, as federal support declines, they said.

Ky. Has Sharp Low-Income Uninsurance Declines
Lucy Larner, Health Aff
In 2013 Kentucky was one of two southern states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Recently, newly elected Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) announced that he would discontinue the expansion. A new study, which was completed before Governor Bevin’s announcement, evaluated the impact of Medicaid expansion in Kentucky through 2014 and found that uninsurance among nonelderly residents in that state with incomes of up to $25,000 declined from 35 percent at the end of 2013 to 11 percent in late 2014.

Hospital Pays $17,000 to End 'Ransomware' Attack
Andrew Dalton, AP
A large Los Angeles hospital chose to pay hackers who were holding its computer network hostage, a move its CEO said was in its best interest and the most efficient way to end the problem. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center showed uncommon transparency in saying Wednesday that it paid the 40 bitcoins - or about $17,000 - demanded when it fell victim to what's commonly called "ransomware."

Sandoz Wants SCOTUS Review of Biosimilar Rules
Silverman, Pharmalot
In a move that may have significant implications for health care costs, Sandoz has asked the US Supreme Court to resolve a contentious dispute over a rule for launching biosimilars. Specifically, Sandoz wants the court to decide when a drug maker that wants to sell a biosimilar medicine must give notice to the manufacturer of the brand-name version about its product launch.

Top 4 Payer Priorities for 2016
Rene Letourneau, HealthLeaders Media
As the healthcare industry moves toward value-based payment structures, health insurers are focusing on developing new business models, enhancing IT capabilities, building a better care coordination infrastructure, and lowering administrative costs. That's the thrust of a State of the Payor industry survey conducted recently by Healthedge, a Burlington, MA-based software company that serves the healthcare payer market.

Letting Pharmacists Prescribe Birth Control
Sarah Breitenbach, Stateline
Oregon’s move to pharmacist-prescribed birth control is an attempt to increase access to the drugs and reduce unintended pregnancies, which make up more than half of all pregnancies in the United States. It also is part of a movement toward team-based medical care, in which doctors and other medical professionals together oversee patients’ care. California pharmacists will begin writing their own prescriptions for birth control next month, and lawmakers in Hawaii, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington are considering legislation that would give pharmacists the power to prescribe contraceptives.

1/3 of Clinical Trial Results Never Disclosed
Rebecca Spalding, Bloomberg
One-third of clinical trials conducted at 51 major U.S. universities and academic hospitals were never published in a peer-reviewed journal or in a government registry online, according to a new study in the BMJ, formerly the British Medical Journal. The researchers looked at 4,347 trials that were completed between October 2007 and September 2010. Of those, only 29 percent had results published within two years of finishing data collection, and 13 percent were posted on the government database ClinicalTrials.gov within the same period, the study found.

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