RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 04/15/2016
Today's Top Stories
Obamacare Is Fueling America's Opioid Epidemic
Sean Gregory, Time
As part of an Obamacare initiative meant to reward quality care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is allocating some $1.5 billion in Medicare payments to hospitals based on criteria that include patient-satisfaction surveys. Among the questions: “During this hospital stay, how often did the hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?” And: “How often was your pain well controlled?”
Employer Health Taxes Get Bipartisan Attention
Caitlin Owens, MC
The tax treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance under Obamacare is one of the few provisions of the law that Congress has touched since passage. It’s also clear that members on both sides of the aisle think the topic needs more work.
FDA Wants Pharma to Modernize Drug Making
Sy Mukherjee, Fortune
The process of biopharmaceutical drug manufacturing is stuck in the past. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now openly calling for drugmakers to spring it forward into the 21st century. In an FDA blog post from earlier this week, Dr. Lawrence Yu compared the predominant “batch” manufacturing technique used by the industry to an archaic relic, particularly in the era of biotech therapies.
* * *
Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies are committed to addressing the nation’s growing opioid crisis community by community, nationwide. Learn more about the BCBS commitment.
* * *
Clinton: Sanders Plan a 'Train Wreck for the Poor'
Jonathan Swan, Hill
Hillary Clinton went after Bernie Sanders's policy proposals during Thursday's Democratic debate, saying the presidential contender's single-payer healthcare plan would be a "train wreck for the poor." Sanders's plan "would pose an incredible burden, not just on the budget but on individuals," Clinton told the debate audience in Brooklyn, accusing Sanders of making costly promises he couldn't deliver.
The Growth of Hospital-Owned Health Plans
Bob Herman, Modern HC
More hospitals and health systems have started or expanded their own health insurance plans since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, according to a report released Thursday. Although reasons vary from market to market, it's clear hospitals view owning a health plan as a way to build their population health programs by combining medical claims and clinical data. A health plan also allows hospitals to control more of the premium dollar.
Doctors Unsure How to Discuss End-of-Life Care
Barbara Ostrov, KHN
Doctors know it’s important to talk with their patients about end-of-life care. But they’re finding it tough to start those conversations — and when they do, they’re not sure what to say, according to a national poll released Thursday.
A Doctor's New Resource for End-of-Life Care
Elana Gordon, WHYY
A New Jersey doctor has created a new tool to help patients and doctors fill out POLST forms. That's short for Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. Without it, Dr. David Barile said, patients at the end stages of life may get too much of the wrong kind of care. Health care can be really fragmented, and that's making it harder for patients at the end stages of life to reach the best decisions about their care, according to Barile, a geriatrician in Princeton.
Nurses Say Stress Interferes With Patient Care
Alan Yu, NPR
Nursing has long been considered one of the most stressful professions, according to a review of research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. Nurses and researchers say it comes down to organizational problems in hospitals worldwide. That includes cuts in staffing; some California nurses struck last month for a week over low staffing and wages.
Thyroid Cancer Cases in U.S. Level Off
Steven Reinberg, HealthDay
Fewer thyroid cancers are diagnosed in the United States now than in the recent past, perhaps signaling a change in physician practices, a new study says. And many thyroid growths won't even be called "cancer" any more, according to another new report.
Elizabethkingia Outbreak Still a Mystery
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN
The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed one case of Elizabethkingia in a resident who died earlier this year. The individual had the same strain of Elizabethkingia that has been confirmed in 57 patients in Wisconsin since November. Eighteen of those individuals have died. All of those infected had "at least one serious underlying illness" and most are older than 65, according to the Wisconsin of Health Services. It's unknown whether the deaths were caused by the infection, the existing health conditions or the combination of both.
* * *
Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies around the country are undertaking initiatives to help patients, families, health professionals and communities address the opioid epidemic. These programs are reducing the misuse of opioids while ensuring those who need access to pain medication can get it, when they need it. Learn more about the BCBS commitment to fight substance use disorder and help prevent opioid addiction.
* * *