RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 04/11/2016
Today's Top Stories
Next President Won't Be Able to Dismantle ACA
Bruce Japsen, Forbes
A parade of healthcare experts from doctors and policymakers to insurance industry executives and Washington lobbyists are telling the nation’s health journalists this weekend that they don’t believe Republican presidential candidates will make good on promises to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
The Idea Hillary Clinton and PhRMA Can Agree On
David Nather, Stat
The pharmaceutical industry has opposed most of Hillary Clinton’s proposals to bring down drug costs, but there’s one idea its chief lobbyist supports: limiting the amount that consumers have to pay out of their own pockets. In an interview with STAT, Stephen Ubl, president and chief executive officer of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the main trade group for drug companies, singled out the proposal when asked whether there were any positive ideas in the Democratic presidential front-runner’s drug prices plan.
Sales of Short-Term Health Policies Surge
Anna Wilde Mathews, WSJ
Sales of short-term health insurance are up sharply since the health law’s major provisions took effect in 2014, according to insurance agencies. New sales figures show the temporary policies, traditionally sold to consumers who are trying to fill coverage gaps for a few months, have continued their surge recently—even though people who buy them face mounting financial penalties because the coverage doesn’t meet the ACA’s standards.
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The latest Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report shows the importance of continuous health care coverage in ensuring people get the right health care service in the right setting and at the right time. To learn more, download the full report.
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UnitedHealth Quitting Exchanges in Ga., Ark.
Zachary Tracer, Bloomberg
UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer, has decided to call it quits in two state Obamacare markets, in the latest challenge to President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul. The insurer won’t sell plans for next year in Georgia and Arkansas, according to state insurance regulators. Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesman, confirmed the exits and declined to say whether the company would drop out of additional states.
Statistics Show Urban-Rural Health Gap
Achenbach & Keating, Wash. Post
White women have been dying prematurely at higher rates since the turn of this century, passing away in their 30s, 40s and 50s in a slow-motion crisis driven by decaying health in small-town America, according to an analysis of national health and mortality statistics by The Washington Post.
Rural Seniors Often Lack Access to Health Care
Paula Span, N.Y. Times
Aren’t country folks supposed to be hardier and healthier, with all that fresh air and exercise, than their urban counterparts? “When you actually do the research, it’s pretty much a myth,” said Leah Goeres, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon State University who led a research team comparing rural and urban dwellers’ health. The rural American population is older: About 15 percent of residents are 65 or older, compared with 12 percent in urban areas, largely because many people have left in search of education and jobs.
Medicare Cancer Drug Plan Stirs Battle
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, AP
A Medicare proposal to test new ways of paying for chemotherapy and other drugs given in a doctor's office has sparked a furious battle, and cancer doctors are demanding that the Obama administration scrap the experiment. The vehement reaction is raising questions about the government's ability to tackle high drug costs, the top health care concern for the public.
Calif. Seeks to Control Medi-Cal Drug Costs
Pauline Bartolone, KQED
In a small room at a neighborhood clinic in Sacramento, a handful of hepatitis C patients wait to see their physician, hoping they’ll be found sick enough to be approved for a cure. The low-income patients hope to be prescribed new breakthrough drugs, such as Sovaldi or Harvoni, which offer cures with almost no side effects. But treating the virus comes with a high price tag: at least $84,000 for a course of treatment. Getting Medi-Cal to pay for such drugs can involve a long, arduous process of tests and paperwork to prove infection has progressed to liver damage.
Telemedicine Catching On w/Consumers
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News
Despite its practical benefits, fewer than 40 percent of tech-savvy Americans have heard of telemedicine, which enables patients to consult with a doctor over the phone or via a video connection within minutes of making a request. But the majority of people who have used an "e-doctor" for everything from flu symptoms to toenail fungus to marriage counseling say it lowered their health-care costs, and medical professionals say the industry is poised to grow rapidly.
A Fitbit Saved His Life? Well, Maybe
Alison Kodjak, NPR
Wearing a Fitbit? If so, you already know that electronic fitness trackers can let you keep records on your smartphone of how many steps you've walked, how much you've slept, maybe your heart rate, or even where you've been. But what can the gadget tell your doctor? A few things that are pretty useful, it turns out.
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Ongoing, continuous health care coverage can help people get healthy faster and stay healthy longer with improved access to primary and preventive services, and better management of chronic illnesses. Read key findings from the latest Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report, which taps the broadest, deepest pool of medical claims data to uncover the latest trends and insights. Download the full report.
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