The James Group Newsletter Vol. 6, Num. 3: Medicare For All Loses Momentum, CVS Names CIO, TX Takes Aim at Med Bills, J&J Research, Medicare Payments to Hospitals, New Alzheimer's Genes, MO: Abortion Restrictions, Measles Continue to Climb, Pharma CEOs Testify Before Congress, Trans Fat Bans, Costs of Stress-Out Workers



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March 4, 2019 

Volume 6, Number 3

In This Issue

Medicare For All Loses Momentum

As Democrats Embrace ‘Medicare For All,’ Division Appears

CVS Names CIO to Lead Aetna Integration

TX Takes Aim at Surprise Medical Bills

J&J Research: Block, Cure Disease

Medicare Payments to 800 Hospitals

Newly Discovered Alzheimer’s Genes    

MO: Wide-Ranging Abortion Restrictions

Measles Cases Continue To Climb

Pharma CEOs Testify Before Congress

Trans Fat Bans: Good For The Heart?

Hidden Costs Of Stressed-Out Workers

TJG On Facebook

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The Wall Street Journal: Medicare For All Loses Momentum Among Democrats
Democratic support for Medicare for All is slipping from the high levels seen around the November midterm elections as voters worry about its price tag and the toll it would take on both private and employer health coverage. The proposal seeks to provide everyone in the U.S. with access to health coverage under a federal system that would replace Medicaid, Medicare, most private insurance and employer coverage. Progressive candidates issued full-throated endorsements during campaigns for congressional and state-level elections last November. As the message resonated among voters, even some centrist candidates joined as well. (Armour and Peterson, 3/1)

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The New York Times: As Over 100 House Democrats Embrace ‘Medicare For All,’ A Party Division Appears
Denouncing the profit motive in health care, more than 100 House Democrats rallied on Wednesday around a bill to replace most private health insurance with a national single-payer system, “Medicare for all.” The chief sponsor of the bill, Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, said it would cure “a deep sickness within our for-profit system” of health care. But the bill highlights Democrats’ split over health policy going into the 2020 elections. (Pear, 2/27)

Source: The NY Times

The Wall Street Journal: CVS Names Chief Information Officer To Lead Aetna Integration
CVS Health Corp. has tapped a new chief information officer tasked with integrating its information technology and data with IT systems used by Aetna Inc., which the drugstore chain acquired last year in a $70 billion deal. Roshan Navagamuwa, who over the past year served as interim CIO, was named CIO and executive vice president of the combined health-industry giant, leading all areas of technology operations and innovation, according to a statement provided by the company. The move is effective immediately. (Loten, 2/28)

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Kaiser Health News: Texas Lawmakers Take Aim At Surprise Medical Bills
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers announced plans to address surprise medical bills in a way that would take the “burden” off Texans. During a press conference Thursday, state Sen. Kelly Hancock, a Republican from suburban Fort Worth, announced he had filed a bill aimed at preventing medical providers from balance-billing patients, among other things. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat from San Antonio, is filing a similar bill in the House. (Lopez, 3/1)

Source: Kaiser Health News

The Associated Press: Johnson & Johnson Research Head Aims To Block, Cure Disease
Johnson & Johnson, the world's biggest maker of health care products, wants to prevent people from getting sick — or at least stop diseases before they cause harm. Its "World Without Disease" initiative and related projects aim to prevent or cure diseases such as lung and blood cancers and juvenile diabetes. They're run by the New Brunswick, New Jersey, company's head of external innovation, Dr. William Hait, who also oversees augmenting in-house research by licensing science and technology from other companies — or buying them. (3/3)

Source: The Associated Press

Kaiser Health News: Medicare Trims Payments To 800 Hospitals, Citing Patient Safety Incidents
Eight hundred hospitals will be paid less by Medicare this year because of high rates of infections and patient injuries, federal records show. The number is the highest since the federal government five years ago launched the Hospital Acquired Conditions (HAC) Reduction Program, created by the Affordable Care Act. Under the program, 1,756 hospitals have been penalized at least once, a Kaiser Health News analysis found.This year, 110 hospitals are being punished for the fifth straight time. (Rau, 3/1)

LOOK UP YOUR HOSPITAL: Is It Being Penalized By Medicare?

Source: Kaiser Health News

CNN: Newly Discovered Alzheimer's Genes Further Hope For Future Treatments
An analysis of the genetic makeup of more than 94,000 people in the United States and Europe with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's led to the discovery of four new genetic variants that increase risk for the neurodegenerative disease. These genes, along with others previously identified, appear to work in tandem to control bodily functions that affect disease development, the study found. (LaMotte, 2/28)

Source: CNN

The Associated Press: Missouri House Passes Wide-Ranging Abortion Restrictions
The Missouri House on Wednesday took steps to outlaw most abortions in the state should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, an effort that's part of a broader Republican push amid renewed optimism that the high court might be more open to increased restrictions, and possibly an outright ban, on the procedure. (2/27)

Source: The Associated Press

The Associated Press: How 'Completely Avoidable' Measles Cases Continue To Climb
The U.S. has counted more measles cases in the first two months of this year than in all of 2017 — and part of the rising threat is misinformation that makes some parents balk at a crucial vaccine, federal health officials told Congress Wednesday. Yet the vaccine is hugely effective and very safe — so the rise of measles cases "is really unacceptable," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health. (2/27)

Source: The Associated Press

The Washington Post: Drug Prices: Pharma CEOs Testify Before Congress
The CEOs from Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi and others were subjected to a ritualistic grilling. But the executives survived the three hours of questioning largely unscathed by deflecting blame for their list prices to insurance companies, despite an admonishment from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) that he would not stand for finger-pointing. The industry leaders they are forced to set prices higher so they can pay big rebates to insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). They acknowledged that practice especially hurts consumers without insurance, who pay full list price at the pharmacy, as well as those with coverage whose co-payment is a percentage of the list price. They insisted they are not to blame for the pain. (Rowland, 2/26)

Source: The Washington Post

The New York Times: Trans Fat Bans May Be Good For The Heart
In 2006, New York City began restricting the amount of trans fats allowed in restaurant food. The regulation has apparently had the desired effect: lower blood levels of trans fatty acids for New Yorkers who dine out. Trans fatty acids, or TFAs, come mostly from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils like shortening or margarine. They raise blood levels of LDL, the “bad cholesterol,” and lower those of HDL, or “good cholesterol.” Their consumption is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. (Bakalar, 2/28)

Source: The New York Times

The Wall Street Journal: The Hidden Costs Of Stressed-Out Workers
Every employer is in the health care business, like it or not. Employee health benefits cost Starbucks more annually than coffee beans; General Motors spends more on them than on steel. But beyond that giant budget item, every company’s business practices affect the physical and mental health of its employees. That can put another big, if less visible, hit on the bottom line. (Pfeffer, 2/28)

Source: The Wall Street Journal


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