Payer snubs PTC’s Emflaza, signaling pricing trouble ahead of launch – FiercePharma

Washington State continues to battle for lower cost prescriptions. This is your government in action. It’s a good thing.

As Washington State’s HCA noted, PTC Therapeutics has not announced its new price. But the group published a report (PDF) stating that prednisone—at a cost of 5 cents per tablet and $55 per year—will be its preferred corticosteroid for DMD patients. It’s the “lower cost, equally effective” option, according to HCA.

Read the whole story here:

Washington State Passes Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

From NARAL: The Washington State Legislature has unanimously passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will protect pregnant workers by requiring employers to provide reasonable work accommodations during pregnancy, such as temporary reassignment to light duty, additional bathroom breaks, and flexible scheduling for prenatal appointments. It would also prohibit employers from requiring pregnant workers to take paid or unpaid leave instead of providing reasonable job modifications, as well as protect pregnant workers from unequal treatment or retaliation for asking for an accommodation.

Washington State joins fifteen states, D.C., and four cities that have passed laws requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers and protecting pregnant workers from retaliation when they request accommodations.

Congratulations to all the groups that spent huge amounts of time phone calling the legislators and going to meet them in Olympia.


Health leaders in Washington state seek improvements in existing health care law – Yakima Herald

Good original article by the Yakima Herald’s Molly Rosbach. Especially useful is it’s point on the use of Electronic Health Records, the bain of many physicians.

“Physicians don’t want to get rid of their EHRs; they understand the value, they just want to make sure it works in a way that’s natural to their work flow,” rather than a series of mindless boxes to check off, said Jennifer Hanscom, executive director of the state Medical Association. “It would be great if we could sit down with the folks at (Health and Human Services) in particular to kind of walk through that, and keeping the lens of a physician on all those regulations.”

A big area where documentation regulations appear at odds with the broader transition from fee-for-service to value-based purchasing is in prior authorization, Hanscom said: Why do insurers still require prior authorization, a extra step for patients and doctors, if doctors are already using the best evidence-based guidelines to make decisions about what services the patient needs?”

Read the whole story here:

Improved access to health care must be assured for patients – Yakima Herald

Very good article on the value of community health centers under Medicaid. Discussing the issue surrounding Yakima, and also, here on the Peninsula.

Community health centers like Yakima Neighborhood Health Services have worked to solve the national challenge of access to care with innovative solutions at the local level. Health centers like ours save, on average, $2,371 (or 24 percent) in total spending per Medicaid patient when compared to other providers, according to a recent multistate study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Reminder of the Providence/Swedish Affiliation

Given the Seattle Times investigative story, I thought it was worth it to revisit what the 2012 ‘Affiliation’ agreement between Providence and Swedish was all about. Here’s a story  on it.

Who uses Obamacare in WA? People from Trump country -KUOW

So there is a disconnect between the people in this state that voted for Donald Trump, and the fact that they are likely to be the ones to pay the highest cost for his, and their federal Congresspeople, repealing Obamacare. Are they just uninformed? Believing in the promises of the Republicans that they will “fix” Obamacare by undoing it? Or are they just, well, how should I say it? Dumb? I don’t think of most of them that way. But I have heard some Trump voters say things that are so uniformed and against their own self interests, that my first reaction is  “Stupid is as stupid does.”  But it’s really hard to know. I’ve also talked to some Trump  supporters that were so uninformed, that they were stunned by me asking how much they were willing to pay for health insurance when the Republicans roll back Obamacare? They did not even understand that it would cost them more. Not a clue. Their answer was, “I don’t believe they’ll do that to me.” Really. The backlash against the R’s is liable to be swift and furious when that day comes

As Congress looks at changes to the Affordable Care Act, the creators of Washington’s health insurance exchange are advocating for the state’s current system – with maps.

Those maps show where the exchange has had the greatest rate of participation in the state: Trump country.

WA House introduces Single-Payer Bill

House Bill 1026 has been introduced  by Representative Sherry Appleton (D-23rd)and co-sponsored by Representatives Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger, among 17 others. No companion bill is yet in the Senate. That usually means the bill won’t have a chance of actually passing. The bill has been put forward for the last three years, with no action. So if you want to see it get moving, call the office of Representative Eileen Cody (34th) and request a hearing on the bill. Her admin is Kindra, the direct dial number is (360) 786 – 7978. It would be good, given the possibility of what is coming from the Feds, to keep this in play and build momentum for a possible larger push next year. This is how bills get passed. It’s all about momentum. You might also email Representative Appleton’s admin and press for a hearing. But there are likely better bills to put your energy into that stand a chance of passing.

The bill authorizes the creation of an agency to  require the submission of a waiver to the federal government to create the Washington health security trust;  add a new chapter to Title 43 RCW; creating new sections;  repeal RCW 82.04.260 and 48.14.0201; provide contingent effective dates; and provide an expiration date.

The bill states:

There is a crisis in health care  accessibility, affordability, and choice in Washington state. Healthcare through insurance companies has failed to control costs,  increase access, or preserve choice. More than six hundred thousand Washington residents have no health care coverage. Individual plans  are unavailable or unaffordable in most counties. Many clinics,  physician practices, and emergency departments, especially in rural  areas, are failing. Employers, faced with fewer choices and more  expensive premiums, are reducing employment-based health care coverage. Simplifying health care financing and eliminating administrative waste inherent in multiple insurance plans can create  sufficient savings to extend health care coverage to all residents and enhance fairness in the system.

The people of the state of Washington declare their intention  to create a single health financing entity called the Washington H-0415.1 HOUSE BILL 1026 State of Washington 65th Legislature 2017 Regular Session By Representatives Appleton, Tharinger, Robinson, Stanford, Lytton, Ormsby, Jinkins, Wylie, Goodman, Sells, Farrell, Doglio, Riccelli, Fey, Pollet, Fitzgibbon, Dolan, Chapman, and Frame Prefiled 12/07/16. Read first time 01/09/17. Referred to Committee on Health Care & Wellness. p. 1 HB 1026 1 health security trust. Through public hearings, research, and 2 consensus building, the trust will: (a) Provide fair, simple, and 3 accountable health care financing for all Washington residents using  a single health care financing entity; (b) cover a comprehensive  package of effective and necessary personal health services; (c) make health care coverage independent from employment; (d) eliminate excessive administrative costs resulting from the current fragmented  system of multiple insurers; (e) generate savings sufficient to  ensure coverage for all Washington residents; (f) integrate current 10 publicly sponsored health programs into the health security trust; 11 (g) preserve choice of providers for Washington residents; (h)  protect patient rights; (i) keep clinical decisions in the hands of health professionals and patients, rather than administrative  personnel; (j) promote health care quality; and (k) control excessive health care costs.

This is the link to the bill. One particular odd passage is section 28, which repeals  the taxes on manufacturers and processors of various 27 foods and by-products—Research and development organizations—Travel 28 agents—Certain international activities—Stevedoring and associated 29 activities—Low-level waste disposers—Insurance producers, surplus 30 line brokers, and title insurance agents—Hospitals—Commercial 31 airplane activities—Timber product activities—Canned salmon 32 processors. I am unsure what that means in relation to this bill and why they want to do that.

Photo credit: via / CC BY-NC-SA