Expansion A Better Deal For States
MEDICAID MATH: Participating in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion only raises states' spending by about 1.6 percent -- about one-third less than expected. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noticed the revision in the latest estimates from CBO, which apparently changed its estimates because it's now expecting fewer previously eligible people to come out of the woodwork. It's another reassuring sign for states on the fence about the expansion, although at this point, politics are guiding states' decisions more than math.
Top Health Care News
MEDICARE DIRECTOR TO LEAVE CMS: The administration's top Medicare official, Jonathan Blum, will leave his post May 16, according to a staff email sent by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on Tuesday. (Paul Demko, Modern Healthcare)
MAJORITY SUPPORTS ACA BIRTH CONTROL MANDATE: Sixty-nine percent of Americans support the mandate that health plans cover contraception, according to a new survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Maggie Fox, NBC News)
GILEAD REVENUE SKYROCKETS WITH NEW EXPENSIVE HEPATITIS C DRUG: "The $2.3 billion in sales of Sovaldi appears to have shattered the previous record for sales of a drug in its first full quarter on the market. It even appears to have already eclipsed the record for first-year sales, at least in the United States...The rapid uptake of Sovaldi to some degree reflects pent-up demand, as many patients were holding off treatment until it was approved in December...But Sovaldi, which has a list price of $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for a typical course of treatment, has become a flash point in a debate over drug prices." (Andrew Pollack, New York Times)
- Only 1 percent of Hepatitis C patients have received the life-saving new drug. (Austin Frakt, Incidental Economist)
FLURRY OF MERGER DEALS IN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY: "The moves by drug makers have helped fuel an overall surge in recent mergers volume, which this year has more than doubled from the same period last year, to nearly $1.1 trillion — the best start in deal-making since 2007, according to data from Thomson Reuters. Pharmaceutical deals made up about 9 percent of that activity, or $93.2 billion, its highest level since 2009." (Michael J. De La Merced, David Gelles, and Rachel Abrams, New York Times)
- The deals show drug companies moving more towards specialization. (Jonathan D. Rockoff, Jeanne Whalen, and Marta Falconi, Wall Street Journal)
FDA ADVISERS VOTE AGAINST APPROVING NEW OPIOID PAINKILLER: The committee unanimously rejected a new drug intended to provide faster relief with fewer side effects, agreeing that the developer had not proven that it was safer. (Rob Stein, National Public Radio)
HEALTH CARE SECTOR HELPS GIVE WALL STREET GAIN: The S&P healthcare index was up 1 percent -- the best performer of the 10 major S&P sectors, thanks to a series of pharmaceutical deals. (Chuck Mikolajczak, Reuters)
HEALTH EXPERTS ANXIOUS TO SEE FDA RULES ON E-CIGARETTES: Since 2009, the FDA has had the ability to regulate tobacco products. But unclear scientific evidence on the health effects of smoking e-cigarettes as opposed to traditional cigarettes will likely mean light regulations, experts say. The agency is expected to release the first regulations by the end of the month. (Maggie Fox, NBC News)
MEDICAID FORCES THE DISABLED TO BE POOR, BUT HELP IS ON THE WAY: Medicaid does have one huge flaw, which hurts millions of people living with disabilities, injuries, or chronic illness. You have to live, officially at least, as a pauper. With important variations across the states, most recipients are forbidden from having more than two or three thousand dollars in the bank. (Harold Pollack, Washington Post)
RULING RENEWS LAWSUIT AGAINST ARIZONA MEDICAID EXPANSION: "The Arizona Court of Appeals on Tuesday revived a lawsuit challenging Gov. Jan Brewer's expansion of the state's Medicaid insurance plan for the poor, ruling that Republican lawmakers have the right to sue over their contention that a hospital assessment that funds the expansion is a tax requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature." (Bob Christie, Associated Press)
THE STATES WITH THE BIGGEST SAFETY NETS: "What people are eligible to receive and what they actually get aren't always the same. And not only do states implement dozens of their own programs to curb the plight of their poorest residents, they even administer the federally maintained safety net differently. Take Obamacare. About half the states are going forward with the federal health-care law's expansion of low-income assistance through Medicaid. Some are exploring alternatives and some are just choosing not to expand." (Niraj Chokshi, Washington Post)
HOSPITAL ER AND AFTER-HOURS CLINIC FORM PARTNERSHIP IN SEATTLE: The unique collaboration is possible because of cost and care incentives in the Affordable Care Act. (Carol M. Ostrom, Kaiser Health News/Seattle Times)
COURT RULES AGAINST OHIO HOSPITAL MERGER: A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a major health system in Ohio must undo its merger with a local hospital on antitrust grounds. (Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal)
LANDRIEU: I'LL PUT GOP ON DEFENSIVE ON HEALTH CARE: In an interview, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu defended Obamacare and promised to make hay about Bill Cassidy's opposition to Medicaid expansion in red-state Louisiana. (Greg Sargent, Washington Post)
DEM GOVERNOR CANDIDATE TOUTS ACA SUPPORT: "It's something I'm proud of because it also closed the gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors," [Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz] said of Obamacare in the ad. "Tom Corbett has decided not to take the Medicaid money. As governor I will take the Medicaid expansion because 500,000 Pennsylvanians need health coverage. It's exactly the kind of leadership I will bring as your next governor." (Daniel Strauss, Talking Points Memo)
TOP ISSUE IN MARYLAND DEM GOVERNOR PRIMARY: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FAILED OBAMACARE WEBSITE?Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler says it's Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's fault. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown says he's the one trying to fix it. (Dylan Scott, Talking Points Memo)
MARYLAND GOVERNOR CANDIDATE PROPOSES MAKING HEALTH CARE PRICING CLEARER: "Choosing medical care or reviewing your hospital bill should be as easy as buying clothes or booking a hotel," said Gansler. "You should know the price up-front and not have to navigate through confusing jargon when reading your bills later on." (Jenna Johnson, Washington Post)
The administration is expected to release the full, detailed ACA enrollment report this week, including breakdown by state.
NATIONAL FOOD POLICY CONFERENCE: The conference will look at food policy issues facing the industry and consumers, and will go from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL EVENT: The State of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the U.S. at 12 p.m.