RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/29/2016

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Top PhRMA Lobbyist Threads a Thicket of Outrage
Robert Pear, NYT
Mr. Ubl, the 47-year-old president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, took charge in November, as the Obama administration, presidential candidates, members of Congress, consumer groups, health insurance companies and doctors were criticizing the prescription drug industry for charging prices they saw as exorbitant and excessive. The anger has only grown worse.

Aetna CEO Vows Support for Exchanges Amid Losses
C. Terhune, KHN
The head of Aetna Inc., the nation’s third-largest health insurer, said he supports insurance exchanges, even though he questioned their sustainability earlier this month and lost money in the marketplaces last year.

Health Quality An Issue For Poor, Poll Finds
Joe Neel, NPR
A series of polls in key states by NPR and its partners finds that more than half of adults in the U.S. believe the Affordable Care Act has either helped the people of their state or has had no effect. Those sentiments are common despite all the political wrangling that continues over the law.

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Doctors Promoting Treatments on Social Media
Sheila Kaplan, Stat
Physicians across the United States routinely offer medical advice on social media — but often fail to mention that they have accepted tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars from the companies that make the prescription drugs they tout.

Dr. Phil Not an M.D., But a Paid Drug Spokesman
Julia Belluz, Vox
TV personality Phil McGraw — best known as "Dr. Phil" — will be making the media rounds soon talking about his experiences living with Type 2 diabetes for more than 25 years. But be aware: This isn't an objective and noble effort to raise awareness or destigmatize a condition that millions of Americans face.

Senate Readies for Battle over Opioid Abuse
Jordain Carney, The Hill
Democratic demands for $600 million in emergency funding is threatening to take down a bipartisan bill tackling the nation’s growing opioid addition. Legislation backed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is coming to the Senate floor this week.

New Twist in Addition Crisis: Deadly Impostors
Welsh-Huggins, AP
Authorities are sounding the alarm about a new and deadly twist in the country's drug-addiction crisis in the form of a potent painkiller disguised as other medications. Tennessee officials say they've seen two dozen cases in recent months of pills marked as the less potent opiates oxycodone or Percocet that turned out to contain fentanyl, a far more powerful drug.

OB-GYNs Navigate Catholic Hospitals' Ethics Rules
Rebecca Plevin, KPCC
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says immediately following a C-section is the "ideal time" to perform the tubal ligation procedure, "because of technical ease and convenience for the woman and physician." But Fenmore explains that under Providence's religiously based ethical guidelines, he is prohibited from doing so.

Controversial Home Visits Duck Medicare's Radar
Bob Herman, ModHC
The most interesting thing about the preliminary rate notice for 2017 Medicare Advantage plans may be what federal policymakers left out. The thick document made no mention of health-risk assessments, which surprised the industry. The Obama administration and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission have targeted the assessments for reform because they suspect plans use them to game the program's risk scores and get paid more.

Pros & Cons of Selling Insurance Across State Lines
Joseph R. Antos, AEI
Obamacare has not done much to slow the growth of health care costs. Government actuaries project that health spending will grow 5.8% a year over the next decade — substantially faster than growth in the economy. Could Republican proposals to sell health insurance across state lines bend the cost curve and make premiums more affordable?

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