The James Group Newsletter Vol. 6, Num. 5: Medicare For All, Drug Pricing Bill, Single Payer HC, CVS: New Service, Medicaid Expansion, Surprise Med Bills, 3D Mammography, Insulin Prices, Exercise Affects Memory, FB Health Data, FDA: Sleep Aids, Measles Cases


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May 10, 2019 

Volume 6, Number 5

In This Issue

’Medicare-For-All’ Hearing

Drug Pricing Bill

Single Payer Health Care

CVS: Teeth-Straightening Service

Medicaid Expansion

Protection Against Surprise Med Bills

3D Mammography: Breast CA Detection

High Insulin Prices

How Exercise Affects Memory

FB: Bolster Privacy of Health Data

FDA: Strong Warning Labels on Sleep Aids

Measles Cases: A Record-High in 25 Years

TJG On Facebook

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Kaiser Health News: A Big Hearing For ‘Medicare-For-All’ — In A Small Room
The first congressional hearing on a “Medicare-for-all” bill in at least a decade took place Tuesday, but without the usual phalanx of T-shirted supporters — or even the presidential candidates — who have been pushing the bill. That’s because the hearing took place not at one of three major committees that oversee health policy in the House, but in the ornate — and comparatively miniature — hearing room of the House Rules Committee. (Rovner, 4/30)

Source: Kaiser Health News

The Hill: Progressives Push House Chairmen To Go Bolder On Drug Pricing 
During a meeting, the Congressional Progressive Caucus urged House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) to support a far-reaching drug pricing bill that would allow the government to strip drug companies of their monopolies if they refuse to sell drugs at a reasonable price. The progressives also pushed back on a competing proposal under discussion that would allow an outside arbiter to help set drug prices, warning that the idea would be too weak. (Sullivan, 4/30)

Source: The Hill

The Hill: CBO To Release Report On Single-Payer Health Care Next Week
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Thursday that it will release a report on single-payer health care next week. The report from Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, slated for release on May 1, is sure to draw close scrutiny from both sides as “Medicare for All” single-payer proposals are hotly debated among Democrats on Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail. (Sullivan, 4/25)

Source: The Hill

The Associated Press: CVS Moves Into Dental Care With Teeth-Straightening Service
CVS Health is venturing into dental care with plans to offer a relatively new teeth-straightening service. The drugstore chain said Thursday that it will add SmileDirectClub locations to hundreds of its stores, where customers can get started on getting their teeth straightened without an in-person visit with a dentist or orthodontist. That lack of an office visit has drawn criticism from orthodontists. (4/25)

Source: The Associated Press

Kaiser Health News: Medicaid Expansion Boosts Hospital Bottom Lines — And Prices
The Medicaid expansion promoted by the Affordable Care Act was a boon for St. Mary’s Medical Center, the largest hospital in western Colorado. Since 2014, the number of uninsured patients it served dropped by more than half, saving the nonprofit hospital more than $3 million a year. But the Grand Junction hospital’s prices did not go down. “St. Mary’s is still way too costly,” said Mike Stahl, CEO of Hilltop Community Resources, which provides insurance to about half of its nearly 600 employees and their families in western Colorado. (Galewitz, 3/27)

Source: Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Health News: Americans Overwhelmingly Want Federal Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills
Three-quarters of the public — including a majority of Republicans — want the federal government to protect patients from being stuck with surprise medical invoices after they are unwittingly treated by doctors or medical facilities that are out of their insurance network, a poll released Wednesday found. These unexpected bills, which can be financially crippling, may arise when a patient is taken to the emergency room by an out-of-network ambulance; when the emergency room is not in their insurer’s network; or when their hospital is in their network, but a doctor or specialist within that facility who treats them is not. (Rau, 4/24)

Source: Kaiser Health News

NPR: 3D Mammography Creates More Precise Images To Detect Breast Cancer
When women get a mammogram they may be offered one of two types. The older type of mammogram takes a single straightforward X-ray image of the breast. The newer 3D takes pictures from many angles. Now, more evidence shows that 3D mammography offers a more thorough picture of breast tissue and is more accurate. When Mary Hu, an administrator in communications with Yale School of Medicine, went to get a mammogram two years ago, she didn't even know she was getting 3D mammography, also called digital breast tomosynthesis. But she's glad that's what she got. (Neighmond, 4/28)

Source: NPR

Kaiser Health News: Is Insulin’s High Cost Keeping Diabetes Patients From Taking Their Medicine?
High prescription drug prices are fast becoming a leading political topic, with medications like insulin emerging as a poster child for the issue. Nearly doubling in price from 2012 to 2016, the diabetes medication has commanded bipartisan attention on Capitol Hill and even a shout out in a recent Netflix comedy special. Voters say curbing such prices should be a top priority for lawmakers (Luthra, 4/29)

Source: Kaiser Health News

The New York Times: How Exercise Affects Our Memory
A single, moderate workout may immediately change how our brains function and how well we recognize common names and similar information, according to a promising new study of exercise, memory and aging. The study adds to growing evidence that exercise can have rapid effects on brain function and also that these effects could accumulate and lead to long-term improvements in how our brains operate and we remember. (Reynolds, 5/1)

Source: The New York Times

Stat: Facebook Announces New Steps In Effort To Bolster Privacy Of Health Data
Millions of Facebook users have joined groups to talk about health care issues ranging from rare disease diagnoses to chemotherapy side effects. Now, the technology giant is taking steps it hopes will encourage those conversations while affording users more privacy. ...The company announced Tuesday that it will create a new type of community: health support groups. Once groups are designated as health support communities, users will be able to easily ask the administrators to post questions on their behalf. (Thielking, 4/30)

Source: Stat

The New York Times: Drug Agency Calls For Strong Warning Labels On Popular Sleep Aids
Federal health regulators announced on Tuesday that they would require manufacturers of sleeping pills such as Ambien and related drugs to post strongly worded warnings in boxes on labels and patient guides. The Food and Drug Administration, in what it called a safety announcement, noted that the drugs’ side effects included risky behaviors, such as sleepwalking and sleep driving, that can lead to injury and even death. (Carey, 4/30)

Source: The New York Times

The Washington Post: Measles Outbreaks: CDC Says Measles Cases Top 700, A Record-High In 25 Years. Most People Were Not Vaccinated
“We are very concerned about the recent troubling rise in cases of measles,” Azar said in a briefing with reporters. Measles is not a harmless illness but one with deadly consequences that most people, even doctors, have never seen because it was eliminated in 2000. “Vaccine-preventable diseases belong in the history books, not in our emergency rooms. The suffering we are seeing today is completely avoidable. Vaccines are safe because they are among the most-studied medical products we have,” Azar said. (Sun, 4/29)

Source: The Washington Post


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