RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 04/12/2016

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This Is the Most Expensive Drug in America
Emma Court, Marketwatch
In 2014, a new hepatitis C drug came to market, an innovative treatment offering a cure for a disease that desperately needed one. The price tag: about $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment, enough to make it the most expensive prescription drug in America. In the medical world, the halls of insurance offices nationwide and even our nation’s Capitol, all hell broke loose.

Medicare Seeks Innovation w/ New Doctor Pay Trial
Alison Kodjak, NPR
Under the five-year project, CMS will recruit primary care doctors into two separate payment tracks. Both will include a monthly payment to doctors for each Medicare beneficiary, but the amounts will vary. The fee for doctors in the first track will average $15 a beneficiary; the physicians will also still be paid for each service they provide. The fee for the second track will average $28; doctors will receive lower fees than those in the first track for each service. (In both tracks, the monthly payments will be higher for patients with more complex health problems.)

Fee-for-Service Still Trumps Alternative Payment
Neel Duggal, MedPage
Despite many proposals to shift medical payment structures away from the traditional fee-for-service, other methods of payment such as capitation have actually been decreasing since the 1990s, according to a recent paper published in Health Affairs. As of 2013, approximately 94.7% of outpatient visits to doctors were paid through the traditional fee-for-service framework, according to Samuel Zuvekas, PhD, and Joel Cohen, PhD, of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), who used data from 1996 to 2013 taken from the annual Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).

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Panel Reaffirms Benefits of Low-Dose Aspirin
Robert Preidt, HealthDay
People in their 50s who are at increased risk of heart disease should take a low-dose aspirin each day to reduce their risk of both heart disease and colon cancer, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends. Americans in their 60s who are at increased risk of heart disease can also benefit from taking aspirin, the influential expert panel said, but the benefit is somewhat smaller for this age group.

CDC Sounds Warning on Zika Virus
Gregory Korte, USA Today
Public health officials used their strongest language to date in warning about a Zika outbreak in the United States, as the Obama administration lobbied Congress for $1.9 billion to combat the mosquito-borne virus. "Most of what we've learned is not reassuring," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought."

Calif. Could Require Notice of Drug Price Hikes
Ed Silverman, Pharmalot
In the latest effort to push back against drug costs, the California legislature will hold a hearing on Wednesday to review a bill that would require companies to report any move to increase the list price of a medicine by more than 10 percent during any 12-month period. And drug makers would have to justify price hikes for medicines with a list price of more than $10,000 within 30 days of making such a move.

Are Mobile Health Apps Reliable?
Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times
For Julie Hadduck, a smartphone app that could diagnose cancer seemed like a miracle. Her husband died of skin cancer in 2010. She worried that her three children could also be at risk, so she took them to a dermatologist twice a year. When Hadduck photographed one of her daughter's moles, the app offered a diagnosis within seconds. "It came back red, and I was freaked out," said Hadduck, who lives in Pittsburgh.

DEA Considers Reclassification of Marijuana
Gillian Mohney, ABC News
Federal authorities have announced that they are reviewing the possibility of loosening the classification of marijuana, and if this happens, it could have a far-reaching impact on how the substance is used in medical settings, experts said. Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is listed alongside heroin and LSD as among the "most dangerous drugs" and has "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse."

Study Finds Brain Injuries in Living NFL Vets
Frank McGurty, Reuters
More than 40 percent of retired NFL players tested with advanced scanning technology showed signs of traumatic brain injury, a much higher rate than in the general population, according to a new study of the long-term risks of playing American football.

When Should Parents Seek a Doctor's Care?
Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune
When should parents seek medical attention for their sick child? That's a question to consider as a trial is scheduled to resume today in a Canadian courtroom, where David and Collet Stephan are accused of failing to provide the "necessaries of life" to their son, Ezekiel, a toddler who died of meningitis in 2012, after they reportedly had been treating him with home remedies.

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