News from The Associated Press

October 31, 2015

Flaws in New York’s health exchange resulted in 21 dead people being enrolled in Medicaid and 333 getting continuing government-funded health coverage after they died, according to audit results released Thursday.

Source: News from The Associated Press

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The Sticks and Carrots of Employee Wellness Programs – The New York Times

October 31, 2015

While most large employers — with 500 workers or more — ask employees to complete some sort of health assessment to identify potential risk factors, nearly 60 percent also ask them to prick their fingers for biometric screening, according to a 2015 report by Mercer, a consulting firm. And the number of employers offering financial incentives to complete any of these wellness-related tasks has inched higher: About 56 percent of large employers dangled an incentive in front of their workers last year, the most common being a premium reduction.

Source: The Sticks and Carrots of Employee Wellness Programs – The New York Times


Restoring Quality Health Care | Hoover Institution

October 30, 2015

It is time for a fundamentally different approach.  Instead of framing reforms with the traditional trade-off, that is, “take away benefits, or raise taxes,” this plan centers on a different paradigm: restoring the appropriate incentives to increase the quality of health care and simultaneously reduce its costs. The six-point plan instills market-based competition, empowers consumers, and reduces the federal government’s authority over health care. It restores the originally intended purpose of health insurance (to protect against the risk of significant and unexpected health care costs), enhances the affordability of twenty-first-century medical care, and ensures continued innovation. Private and federal government health expenditures will conservatively decrease by trillions of dollars during the decade, and access to high quality health care will significantly improve.  Perhaps most important, the reforms in this plan reflect the principles held by the American people about what they value and expect from health care in terms of access, choice, and quality.

Source: Restoring Quality Health Care | Hoover Institution


Variation in Marketplace Enrollment Rates in 2015 by State and Income – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

October 29, 2015

In total, the data show that nationally 24.1 million people are eligible for tax credits, and 8.6 million of them have signed up for a marketplace plan.

In states relying on HealthCare.gov, 62 percent of people eligible for tax credits with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) signed up for a plan through the marketplace in 2015.

29 percent of people earning 200-300 percent below the FPL enrolled in marketplace plans.

13 percent of those earning 300-400 percent below the FPL enrolled in marketplace plans.

Source: Variation in Marketplace Enrollment Rates in 2015 by State and Income – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


A Clintonian Misdirection on Drug Prices – WSJ

October 29, 2015

It’s important to distinguish between new medicines that are priced at a premium because they represent genuine innovation and risk-taking, and drugs that are priced high simply because investors are manipulating regulatory failures. If Mrs. Clinton is serious about helping patients, she should focus on lowering the cost and time necessary for generic-drug entry, thus reducing the chance of perpetual monopolies for old, off-patent drugs like Daraprim.Yet Mrs. Clinton’s proposed policy changes are mostly focused on new medicines that are transforming the treatment of disease, but also take a lot of risk and cost to develop. More than 40% of the drugs approved by the FDA in 2014 treat rare or vexing medical problems, including a cure for hepatitis C, the first and only vaccine for meningococcal B, and a radical treatment for metastatic melanoma—a disease that was once a death sentence. About 70% of the drugs in development are “first in class” medicines, meaning they use a completely new approach in fighting a disease.

Source: A Clintonian Misdirection on Drug Prices – WSJ


Health Care Reform’s Unfinished Work — Remaining Barriers to Coverage and Access — NEJM

October 29, 2015

These considerations notwithstanding, the ACA is succeeding in expanding coverage and access, with promising indications for population health.1 But challenges remain; the fundamental political question is how — and whether — they’ll be addressed. Though some members of both political parties favor replacing the ACA entirely, that seems unlikely to happen. Liberals who believe a single-payer system is the easiest method of eliminating cracks in our patchwork coverage approach must face the political realities that derailed a single-payer effort in liberal Vermont and have made it so challenging to implement even a centrist national health care reform law. Many conservatives still advocate “repeal and replace,” but the almost-certain backlash against taking coverage away from more than 15 million Americans makes it hard to imagine this rhetoric becoming reality, even if Republicans control Congress and the White House after 2016.

Source: Health Care Reform’s Unfinished Work — Remaining Barriers to Coverage and Access — NEJM


Why Obamacare Co-Ops Are Failing At A Rate Of Nearly 50% – Forbes

October 29, 2015

In sum, of the 24 Obamacare co-ops funded with federal tax dollars, one (Vermont’s) never got approval to sell coverage, a second (CoOportunity) has already been wound down, and nine more will terminate at the end of this year.

Source: Why Obamacare Co-Ops Are Failing At A Rate Of Nearly 50% – Forbes