Three take-aways from Nancy Guinto’s transparency testimony to the US Senate HELP Committee – State of Reform

Nancy Guinto, Executive Director of the Washington Health Alliance (WHA), testified before the US Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee last week about how price transparency initiatives can increase value in health care. Three key takeaways:

  • Congress should create incentives to align stakeholder interests in leveraging data to improve care value. Congress should look across public and private sectors to coordinate efforts to increase transparency.
  • Congress should support federal agency efforts to increase transparency by promoting initiatives that tie cost, quality, and value together and by making access to data less burdensome.
  • Congress should leverage existing networks that promote transparency, like regional health improvement collaborative, that already have the trust and support of local stakeholders and who are already working to make care improvements.

Those of us involved in the Jefferson County Healthcare Access Group (CHA) have struggled for a few years now to increase pricing transparency at Jefferson Healthcare. We have met with resistance every step of the way. Breakthroughs in the last year have led to citizens having a somewhat better understanding of the prices they face before they get into the hospital. We fully support the efforts of the Washington Healthcare Alliance.

It is clear to those of us involved in understanding the healthcare industry on a local level, that increasing centralization, decreasing independent medical providers, penalization of individual providers by Congressional funding mandates,  and a lack of transparency are creating a system the more resembles a monopoly, costs more and does not  necessarily provide better indices of health.

Read more on this at

https://stateofreform.com/featured/2018/09/three-take-aways-from-nancy-guintos-transparency-testimony-to-the-us-senate-help-committee/

 

Trump Administration Guts Title X funding for most clinics

The Trump administration has radically changed the Title X funding model. It is going all out to cut funding to any women’s health care clinic that provides any kind of abortion counseling services. Here’s some of the details.

Require that Title X funded activities have full physical and financial separation from abortion-related activities. In addition to separate accounting and electronic and paper health records, providers would need to have separate treatment, consultation, examination and waiting rooms, office entrances and exits, workstations, signs, phone numbers, email addresses, educational services, websites, and staff. This new requirement would essentially disqualify any provider from receiving Title X funds if they also offered abortions.

Link to the PDF of the full report

Issue-Brief-Proposed-Changes-to-Title-X-Implications-for-Women-and-Family-Planning-Providers

 

 

 

Abuse of 340B Program Impacts Patient Care -Oncology Nursing News

Jefferson Healthcare and many other rural hospitals, take advantage of a Federal program called 340B.

As the article states:

This little-known federal program was created to help uninsured or vulnerable patients get access valuable medications regardless of their abilities to pay. This was done by providing certain participating hospitals or safety net clinics with discounted medicines. The 340B program has become an extremely important program for patients in need in this era of unaffordable and unsustainable drug prices.

The article lays out the problems with the 340B program and how some hospitals are abusing it to help themselves remain profitable.

While the point of sharing this article is not to infer that Jefferson Healthcare is in any way one of the ‘bad actors’ in the 340B debate, this article gives the average person a very good quick overview of the controversy.  The battle over 340B is playing out in Congress, and it’s outcome will affect JHC. JHC does a great deal charity care, including use of 340B funds, and the program to offer charity care has been recently reformatted to allow people who do not have the means to afford to get needed care. (More on that can be found at the JHC website, JHC Charity Care overview )

I will be looking into the local ramifications of this issue in upcoming months, and should have a more comprehensive overview on them  later.

But for now. Here’s a good quote:

For too many hospitals, the 340B program has become a road to profits, not a safety net and not a way to expand charity care for uninsured, indigent patients. For too many patients, particularly those with cancer, the 340B program has not reduced their cost of care 1 cent.

Read the whole opinion piece here:

https://www.oncnursingnews.com/web-exclusives/abuse-of-340b-program-impacts-patient-care

 

 

 

70 House Democrats Launch “Medicare for All” Caucus – Democracy Now

If the Dems are ever going to win back the House, this is the way it has to be done. Offering working people real solutions for their problems, like healthcare.  How could we pay for it? Well, the President wants NATO members to increase their spending by 2% a year. What if we reversed that and reduced our spending in NATO by 2% a year to match theirs? Yep, that would pay for this proposal. How do you think that all the other first world countries pay for universal healthcare? They don’t spend 50% of their discretionary budget on military spending, like we do. One day in some distant future America, we may finally dramatically reduce the spending on this military/industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us against. We could then use the monies on our citizens welfare, rather than fueling corporate profits at our tax payers expense.

Declaring that healthcare is a human right, at least 70 Democrats have signed on to a new “Medicare for All” House Caucus. Speaking on Capitol Hill Thursday, caucus co-chair Congressmember Pramila Jayapal of Washington state said the U.S. could provide universal healthcare by lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to zero.

https://www.democracynow.org/2018/7/20/headlines/70_house_democrats_launch_medicare_for_all_caucus

Trump administration freezes risk-adjustment payments – Modern Healthcare

The administration continues it’s battle to destroy protecting middle and low income folks from medical financial ruin continues.

The Trump administration is halting billions of dollars of payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act’s risk-adjustment program, a move that further disrupts the insurance market and could lead to more premium increases next year.

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20180708/NEWS/180709931?utm_source=modernhealthcare&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20180708-NEWS-180709931&utm_campaign=mh-alert

 

Federal “right to try” law enacted – Consumer Health Digest

This is not going to help anyone. In fact, it very likely will hurt people who are dying.  While the idea behind this seems to the uninformed to be an interesting idea, the possibility of dying people taking drugs that may cause greater suffering to them is very real. The Trump Administration attempt to undermine the  FDA is clearly underway. The beneficiaries of this are large drug companies. 

President Donald Trump signed into law the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act of 2017, which had been opposed by a coalition of more than 100 non-governmental organizations. The law permits terminally ill patients who have exhausted approved treatment options and who are unable to participate in a clinical trial of an investigational new drug to receive the drug after it has passed only the first of three phases of testing required for marketing approval. Phase 1 testing requires only 20 to 80 healthy volunteers to determine a drug’s most frequent side effects and how it is metabolized or excreted. While it can reveal unacceptable toxicity, Phase 1 does not establish effectiveness. Most drugs that move past Phase I testing do not get approved for marketing because they are found to be unsafe and/or ineffective.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has “compassionate use” programs with safeguards that enable people with serious and life-threatening diseases to receive investigational medical devices, drugs, and biologics outside of clinical trials. The agency sometimes requires dosing and safety improvements but grants 99% of requests it receives and enables treatment to begin within 30 days (or five working days after emergency requests). The new law removes FDA’s consultative role in ensuring safety and fails to ensure informed consent requirements. It also “limits the liability of a sponsor, manufacturer, prescriber, or dispenser that provides, or declines to provide, an eligible investigational drug to an eligible patient in accordance with the bill.”

Senator Ron Johnson, who sponsored the legislation, said recently that its goal was to “diminish the FDA’s power over people’s lives, not increase it.” It was based on a model bill drafted by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank that opposes the FDA’s regulatory power. The Koch brothers-associated, right-wing groups Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity lobbied for the legislation. Similar legislation has already been enacted in 38 states. David Gorski, M.D., Ph.D. recently wrote:

Right-to-try is only a little about helping patients. It’s far more about dismantling the FDA and giving drug and device manufacturers more freedom to market drugs and devices with much less testing. [Gorski D. The very worst version of the sham known as “right-to-try” is poised to become law. Science-Based Medicine, May 21, 2018]

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Daily on Healthcare: Here are the healthcare items that made it into the spending bill – Washington Examiner

The recent federal spending bill coverage.

Here are the healthcare items that made it into the spending bill. The spending bill Congress released Wednesday night funds or changes several healthcare programs. In all, the Department of Health and Human Services will see a $10 billion boost. Here are some details about how the spending deal will affect healthcare programs:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/daily-on-healthcare-here-are-the-healthcare-items-that-made-it-into-the-spending-bill