RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 03/11/2016

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$1.2 Billion in Loans to ACA Co-ops May Be Lost
Levine & Goldstein, WP
The failures of a dozen nonprofit health insurance plans created by the Affordable Care Act could cost the government up to $1.2 billion, according to a harsh new congressional report that concludes federal officials ignored early warnings about the plans’s fragility and moved in too late as problems arose.

Slavitt: Troubled Co-op Should Have Closed Sooner
P. Sullivan, The Hill
A top ObamaCare official acknowledged Thursday that a troubled nonprofit “co-op” insurer set up under the health law should have been shut down sooner. The co-op, called CoOportunity, operated in Iowa and Nebraska and was shut down by regulators in January 2015 because of financial problems.

Lawmakers Accuse Valeant of Stonewalling
Ed Silverman, Pharmalot
In a letter sent today to the drug maker, the committee maintained Valeant has repeatedly declined to provide a list of documents requested two months ago as part of its investigation into Valeant pricing. The committee wants to know more about the rights to a pair of life-saving heart drugs — Nitropress and Isuprel — that Valeant purchased and, on the same day, raised list prices by 525 percent and 212 percent, respectively.

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Drug Makers Peer Out from the Bunker
Dylan Scott, Stat
Drug industry executives don’t get it: They’re not supposed to be the bad guys. That was the feeling that seemed to permeate the annual meeting of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which gathered here this week amid withering scrutiny from politicians and the public.

Admin. to Announce Funding to Fight Addiction
Sarah Ferris, The Hill
The Obama administration said Thursday it plans to announce “a significant federal investment” to fight opioid abuse, just hours after a final failed attempt by Senate Democrats to add federal funding to legislation on the issue.

Value-Based Care Rips Provider Profits
Gregory Freeman, HealthLeaders
Large health systems and hospital operators are reporting falling profits, revenue, income, and share value. The promise of population health management may eventually restore financial order, says one industry expert.

Costly, Dubious Care for Some Seniors with Cancer
Don Rauf, HD
Expensive drugs are being given far more often to elderly patients with advanced colon cancer, but they offer almost no benefit, a new study suggests. "This research found that there is a trend for elderly late-stage colorectal cancer patients to receive newer, more expensive drugs," said lead author Cathy Bradley, associate director for population science research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. "However, in spite of their receiving more drugs, no [significant] survival benefit was observed."

ERs Adapt to Meet Patient Demand for Routine Care
Abe Aboraya, NPR
As many as 1 in 3 Americans sought care in an ER in the past two years, according to a recent poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. That relatively high frequency may be a matter of convenience, even though many in the poll also report frustration with the cost and quality of care they received in an ER.

A Middle Ground for States on Birth Control?
Mattie Quinn, Governing
Birth control has been a tough sell in red states in recent years. Federal law requires insurance plans to pay for some form of contraceptives, but 20 states offer exemptions from the mandate for some employers and insurers. In Tennessee, one of the more conservative states, advocates hope the new contraceptives bill will start a conversation about reproductive freedom with those who aren’t comfortable with abortion.

California to Permit Physician-Assisted Suicide
Lisa Aliferis, KQED
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation last October that would allow terminally-ill people to request life-ending medication from their physicians. But no one knew when the law would take effect, because of the unusual way in which the law was passed — in a legislative “extraordinary session” called by Gov. Brown. The bill could not go into effect until 90 days after the session adjourned.

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