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How Quickly Will Drug Prices Come Down: A Look at This Week in Healthcare

IP Blog | Innovation Partners | December 3, 2017

This week’s BioBlog focuses on the new: new studies on cancer care, physician reimbursement and more, as well as new venture capital initiatives from United Healthcare. Let’s not forget the potential of a new HHS secretary as confirmation hearings continue. A look at this week in healthcare in the Innovation Partners BioBlog.

HHS secretary nominee Alex Azar tells Senate panel that reducing drug prices would be his top priority

Alex Azar, HHS secretary nominee and the former head of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly’s U.S. operation, told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions during his confirmation hearing that reducing drug prices would be his top priority if confirmed as the next HHS secretary. Azar has previously worked for HHS under the Bush administration. He has not offered specifics on how he would go about lowering drug prices, but he has consistently repeated that this would be his top priority if confirmed.

CMS puts an end to mandatory cardiac, hip fracture bundled payment models

Although Tom Price no longer heads up the Department of Health and Human Services, one of his pet projects just made it to the finish line. The federal government will no longer mandate that providers participate in bundled payment models for hip fractures and cardiac care.

Chemo brain starts during cancer’s progression, not just after chemotherapy

It’s a term all-too-familiar to cancer survivors and their families: chemo brain. The memory loss, confusion, and sometimes personality changes are often blamed on chemotherapy, but new research suggests these changes begin before chemotherapy starts. Tumors, not medications, may be responsible for changes in the brain.

Response to 340B Payment Cuts Slated for 2018

Several actions are in play as groups respond to proposed cuts in 340B. If they move forward, cuts will take place in 2018. Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced a bill to prevent the payment cuts for 340B, while the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, and the Association of American Medical Colleges filed a complaint against CMS arguing that agency cannot cut the Medicare Part B payment rate for 340B-purchased drugs as provided under the OPPS final rule. Other groups and individuals are also protesting the cuts.

As Health Care Changes, Insurers, Hospitals and Drugstores Team Up

Marketplace threats initiated by Amazon making forays into the world of pharmaceutical management have made for unlikely bedfellows. Hospitals, insurers, and drugstores are forming teams for new health care models. A look at the changing world of healthcare from the New York Times.

The Trump administration is taking on drug prices — but not drug companies

Although the Trump Administration is focused on lowering drug prices, one group has remained untouched by the changes – drug companies. The Washington Post takes a look at the administration’s attempts to lower drug prices and the areas both affected and unaffected by the focus on lowering drug prices.

Humana study: Physicians warm to value-based pay models, but skepticism runs deep

A new joint study conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians and Humana finds that overall, family physicians are warming up to the idea of value-based pay models. Among the data that stood out to the study’s authors: 37% of physicians now receive value-based pay compared to 18% in 2015.

UnitedHealth sinks $250M into digital health venture fund

United Healthcare is the next to announce it is going into the venture capital space. The company announced the creation of Optum Ventures which will invest in digital startups. United Healthcare is starting Optum with a nice bankroll of $250 million. Optum’s initial focus will be on companies that use data and analytics to improve healthcare delivery and reimbursement.

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