RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/26/2016

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On Precision Medicine, Obama Plays Long Game
David Nather, Stat
President Obama had one major challenge at his precision medicine summit on Thursday: avoid getting bogged down in jargon. Instead he kept his eyes on the horizon, focusing on the benefits he envisions 10 years from now if precision medicine moves forward: better, more effective medical treatments tailored to individuals, and eventually lower costs because there will be less spending on treatments that don’t work.

President Weighs In on Data From Genes
Julie Hirschfeld Davis, NY Times
President Obama on Thursday waded into the complex and high-stakes debate over whether patients own their genetic information, saying that he believes that his tissues and any discoveries that stem from his DNA belong to him.

Daschle on Drug Costs: 'We Ought to Be Focused on Value'
This final segment of RealClearHealth's conversation with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle focuses on issues now before the U.S. Senate: Drug prices, the epidemic of opioid drug abuse and medical innovation.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies believe it’s important to take medications as directed by your doctor for the best health and safety. Learn more.

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Why America Pays So Much More for Drugs
Carolyn Y. Johnson, Wonkblog
In a subterranean ballroom Wednesday morning, a panel representing three corners of the health-care system took on one of the most perplexing questions about drug prices: Why does the U.S. pay so much more for brand-name drugs than other wealthy nations?

Congress Grills CMS over Remaining Co-ops
Bob Herman, Modern HC
The House's Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules heard testimony about the co-op program, which saw 12 of its 23 insurers shut their doors as of Dec. 31. Republicans absorbed most of the time with questions and didn't hesitate to throw in political jabs at the law that is universally despised by the party.

McConnell Moving Forward w/ Drug Abuse Bill
Peter Sullivan, The Hill
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he plans to bring forward a bipartisan bill to fight the opioid crisis “in the coming days,” but a partisan fight lurks over the question of funding. McConnell said that he is planning to bring up the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) soon. The bill has bipartisan support and passed the Judiciary Committee on a voice vote.

Treating Addiction As A Chronic Disease
With the opioid epidemic reaching into every corner of the U.S., more people are talking about addiction as a chronic disease rather than a moral failing. For researcher A. Thomas McLellan, who has spent his entire career studying substance abuse, the shift is a welcome one, though it has come frustratingly late.

'Pot Tourists' Linked to Surge in Colo. ER Visits
D. Thompson, HealthDay
Some tourists who have visited Colorado to sample the state's legal marijuana haven't been able to handle their high, prompting a steep increase in pot-related trips to the emergency room, new research indicates. The number of out-of-state visitors suffering marijuana-related medical problems who landed in the emergency room of the University of Colorado Hospital doubled between 2013 and 2014.

'Seriously Flawed' Vaccine Study Is Retracted
Rachel Feltman, Wash. Post
Retraction Watch reports that a paper published online in the journal Vaccine last month and temporarily removed weeks later has now officially been retracted. The paper, which drew a connection between behavioral problems in mice and the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), has been replaced by this notice.

Silicon Valley's Health Care Problem
Rachel Katz, The Health Care Blog
Silicon Valley wants to love healthcare. The industry is enormous and full of inefficiency, which is to say, perfect for technology investment. So it comes as no surprise that venture money in healthcare technology startups has quadrupled since 2011 to $4.5BN in 2015. Moreover, the government wants to invite Silicon Valley-style innovation in healthcare. In January, CMS leaders stated that the next wave of EHR policy will focus on promoting startup innovation in healthcare by incentivizing open APIs and interoperability. Everyone agrees—so let’s just get going, right?

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies believe it’s important to take medications as directed to make sure you get the right dose at the right time. Following doctors’ directions, remembering to take medicines and disposing of them properly are all important for better health and safety. Learn more.

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