Mass. Dumps Exchange
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST: Massachusetts -- the state whose health care law was the model for the Affordable Care Act -- is the latest to give up on its Obamacare exchange. State officials announced yesterday that they'll first try to salvage their marketplace with an off-the-shelf system other states have used. And if that doesn't work, it will simply move into HealthCare.gov. Oregon has already joined the federal marketplace, moving the overall landscape in the direction the White House never wanted to go -- greater federal control, even in states with reputations as innovators in health care policy.
Top Health Care News
MASSACHUSETTS EXCHANGE: The 'dual track' approach "solves for two realities," said Sarah Iselin, special assistant to Governor Deval Patrick, in a written statement. "We need a reliable website to help people during the next open enrollment period, and we need to be in a position to achieve a fully integrated system in 2015." (Liz Kowalczyk, Boston Globe)
STUDY OFFERS EVIDENCE INSURANCE MAY SAVE LIVES: A new study found the mortality rate in Massachusetts fell by nearly 3 percent between 2007 and 2010, following the passage of the state's mandatory health coverage law. The law was the model for Obamacare, and experts believe the study could offer insight into the impact of expanded coverage on a larger scale -- a 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 nationally would equal about 17,000 fewer deaths each year. (Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times)
- The authors estimate 830 adults would need to gain insurance to prevent one death a year -- if a state spends $4,000 a year to get each person covered, cost would equal $3.3 million for each life saved. (Harold Pollack, Healthinsurance.org)
- If the 24 states declining Medicaid expansion instead opted in, 5,793 lives could potentially be saved. (Dan Diamond, The Advisory Board Company)
- The decrease in mortality means insurance improves health, too. (Adrianna McIntyre, Incidental Economist)
UNINSURED RATE FALLS TO 13.4 PERCENT IN APRIL: According to a new Gallup poll, the rate of uninsured U.S. adults is the lowest since the organization starting collecting data in 2008, down from 15 percent in March, and 18 percent ahead of the launch of the ACA exchanges in October. (Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal)
STUDY: HOSPITALS' PURCHASE OF PHYSICIAN PRACTICES LEADS TO HIGHER PRICES AND SPENDING: "Hospitals have increasingly bought physician practices over the past decade, arguing it helps them coordinate care and control costs. But insurers and many economists say hospitals' main motivation is negotiating higher prices with insurers and building referrals to grow admissions. The [ACA] has accelerated the trend by encouraging the establishment of Medicare accountable care organizations that pay large groups of providers based on how well they control costs and improve quality." (Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News)
THE PERSISTENT FINANCIAL CHALLENGE OF UNCOMPENSATED CARE: Even with coverage expansion under the ACA, millions will remain uninsured, and new estimates show it costs providers and the government billions to pay for those who can't afford for their care. (Jason Millman, Washington Post)
COLORADO WILL REDRAW INSURANCE BOUNDARIES TO BALANCE PREMIUM RATES: The mountains west of Denver have the highest Obamacare premiums in the country, but a proposed change would lower them slightly by making the towns part of a larger 22-county insurance pool. (Eric Whitney, NPR)
MANY LATINOS SEEK TREATMENT IN MEXICO, DESPITE NEW COVERAGE UNDER OBAMACARE: Mexican immigrants living in California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico have long travelled to border cities in Mexico for care, and are expected to continue -- treatment is less expensive, there are shorter waits, the culture is less hurried, doctors speak the same language, and patients feel more comfortable. (Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News/USA Today)
FDA SAYS TO LIMIT USE OF ASPIRIN TO PREVENT HEART ATTACKS: The agency says Aspirin should not generally be used to prevent heart attacks or stroke in those with no history of cardiovascular disease, because the drug raises risks of bleeding in the brain and stomach. (Sonali Basak, Bloomberg News)
CANCER DRUGS DOUBLED TO $10,000 PER MONTH IN A DECADE: Spending on oncology treatments reached $91 billion globally last year, with the U.S. paying $37.2 billion, the largest segment of the market, according to a new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. (Aimee Picchi, CBS News)
HIGH PRICE OF NEW HEPATITIS C DRUGS LEADS TO DEBATE OVER WHO SHOULD GET THE TREATMENT: "If all 3 million people estimated to be infected with the virus in America are treated at an average cost of $100,000 each, the amount the U.S. spends on prescription drugs would double, from about $300 billion in one year to more than $600 billion." (Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News/Washington Post)
SHOULD WOMEN BE TAKING STATINS? New medical guidelines could double the number of Americans told to take the cholesterol-lowering drugs, but women have been seriously underrepresented in clinical trials involving statins, and some cardiologists worry the drugs may not do healthy women much good, and could cause harm. (Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times)
POLIO SPREADS, PROMPTING GLOBAL HEALTH WARNING: The Global Health Organization declared a global health emergency Monday, following the spread of the virus from Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon to Afghanistan, Iraq and Equatorial Guinea, respectively. Polio was near eradication just two years ago, but that progress is at risk. (Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times)
UNIVERSAL MAMMOGRAM SCREENING SHOWS DISCONNECT BETWEEN PERCEIVED AND ACTUAL BREAST CANCER RISK: "Even without a universal screening mammogram program, the actual likelihood of a 50-year-old woman dying of breast cancer in the next 10 years is one half of one percent. And adding a screening program has only a marginal effect on that risk. Diagnostic methods these days catch most cases of breast cancer that can be effectively treated, and much of what is picked up by universal screening is over-diagnosis." (Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times)
Pregnancy and Abortion
THE TEEN PREGNANCY RATE HAS DROPPED 50 PERCENT IN TWO DECADES: And the teen abortion rate is at the lowest since it was legalized 40 years ago, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. (Sophie Novack, National Journal)
MINNESOTA COURT UPHOLDS INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR ABORTION: The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a district court decision dismissing a lawsuit aimed at ending state insurance coverage of abortion services for low-income women. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
HOUSE HEARING ON 21ST CENTURY CURES: The Energy and Commerce committee meets at 3 p.m. in 2123 Rayburn to discuss the state of domestic biomedical innovation and what can be done to accelerate the process of bringing new treatments and cures to patients. Among the witnesses scheduled to attend are representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the Manhattan Institute.
HILL BRIEFING ON COMBATTING OBESITY: The Obesity Society will join the Obesity Action Coalition, the California Healthcare Institute and California Rep. Scott Peters to discuss treatment options and access to care for those with obesity at 9 a.m. in B-318 Rayburn.