Health Insurance Stocks Soar & Insurers React Following ACA Supreme Court Ruling in King v. Burwell
This week in healthcare, major insurance companies react to last week’s Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell with decidedly strong support and IBM supercomputer Watson will compute personalized cancer treatments.
As the healthcare world adjusts to the post-King v. Burwell climate, “major insurance companies and execs reacted to last week’s Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell with a decidedly sunny vibe.” Many insurers noted that the decision would allow millions of Americans to remain insured.
Watson, the IBM supercomputer famous for defeating two Jeopardy champions, has a new job: cancer treatment innovation specialist. “IBM is now training Watson to be a cancer specialist. The idea is to use Watson’s increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to find personalized treatments for every cancer patient by comparing disease and treatment histories, genetic data, scans and symptoms against the vast universe of medical knowledge.”
In an attempt to create more conversation about drug costs, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York has unveiled an online drug cost calculator that “compares the cost of more than 50 cancer drugs with what the prices would be if they were tied to factors such as the side effects the drugs produce, and the amount of extra life they give patients. In many cases, the website calculates a price that is lower than the drug’s market price,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
The University of Chicago Medicine and Aetna have announced they will collaborate to create an oncology medical home that “allows teams of cancer specialists to work together to care for a patient with a cancer diagnosis” and will “explore a more innovative payment model for cancer care.”
As state exchanges continue to provide insurance coverage to their constituents, California’s exchange serves as a model of success: “The state’s exchange, Covered California, has enrolled 1.3 million residents since it launched. And 77 percent of individual enrollees pay less than $150 on monthly premiums.”
House and Senate Committees Pass FY2016 Appropriations Bills Increasing Funding for NIH and NCI
This week the Appropriations Committees of both the US House and the US Senate approved bills funding the NIH and NCI. The proposals include “$32 billion to NIH, an increase of $1.9 billion above the fiscal year 2015 budget. Of the $32 billion, $5.2 billion would go to NCI, increasing the Institute’s budget by five percent from 2015.”
Insurance company Highmark and the Allegheny Health Network recently announced an initiative to tweak treatment guidelines and lower costs through a program geared to “wring unnecessary costs from cancer treatment while improving care.”
In 2017, Congress is scheduled to reapprove the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA). The Campaign for Modern Medicines notes that “increased resources and staff, shortened review periods, and earlier launch dates–all PDUFA byproducts–have made it easier for the right medicines to get into the hands of the people who need them most” and looks ahead to the impending review.
A report from ConsumerAffairs predicts that “as health care costs rise and demand for services increases, we may see growing conflict between physicians who are trying to manage scarce and costly resources and groups advocating for the rights of patients.”
In this 8-minute video, Dr. Jamie von Roenn discusses value in cancer treatment, specifically as it pertains to palliative care.
A new report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found that “Part D formularies covered 95 percent of the 196 medications most commonly used by people who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare.”
A doctor who co-authored an article reviewing a drug from pharma company Celgene failed to disclose in the article that he had received over $138,000 from the company.
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