Friday
May262017

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition

Every business day, MCOL posts feature stories making news on the business of health care. Here are five we think are particularly important for this week:

Top News From the Past Week as reported from key news services, and compiled by MCOL

 

Patient, Doctor Groups Say New CBO Score Reveals Health Care Bill's Flaws

Health care groups that represent doctors and patients are warning members of Congress that the House Republicans' plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act would hurt people who need insurance most. NPR. Thursday, May 25, 2017

 

Senate to Start Drafting Health Care Bill Despite Policy Debates

Senate staffers will start to draft legislation that would repeal and replace significant parts of the Affordable Care Act next week, GOP senators said Thursday, despite the many differences among members of the caucus over policy. Morning Consult. Thursday, May 25, 2017

 

10 key points from the CBO report on Obamacare repeal

Here are some key facts and figures from the new CBO report on the American Health Care Act, the House-passed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. CBO stressed the uncertainty of its estimates, given that it's hard to know which states would take up the chance to opt out of certain key parts of Obamacare. Politico Wednesday, May 24, 2017

 

Tab For Single-Payer Proposal In California Could Run $400 Billion

A proposed single-payer health system in California would cost about $400 billion annually, with up to half of that money coming from a new payroll tax on workers and employers, according to a state analysis. Kaiser Health News Tuesday, May 23, 2017.

 

Trump budget: $800 billion in Medicaid cuts

Donald Trump's budget that is expected to be unveiled on Tuesday will include $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid -- a move that underscores the President's resolve to significantly downsize the federal program even as Republican lawmakers are clashing over the issue in Congress. CNN Monday, May 22, 2017

 

These and more weekly news items on the business of healthcare are featured in the MCOL Weekend edition, along with the MCOL Tidbits, and more, for MCOL Premium level members.

Wednesday
May242017

Rise of the Drones

By Kim Bellard, May 24, 2017

For those of us of a certain age, we expected to be living in a Jetsons-type world, complete with flying cars.  That hasn't happened, but it is starting to appear as though the skies may, indeed, soon be full of flying vehicles.  It's just that they may not have people in them. 

Welcome to the brave new world of drones.

Many people may have viewed drones as a toy akin to radio-controlled airplanes. We're beyond that now.  Last summer PwC asked "Are commercial drones ready for take-off?"  They thought so, estimating the total available market for drone-enabled services at $127b

This is not going to all be about getting your books, or your socks, or even your new HD television faster.  It is going to impact many industries -- including health care.

And that impact has already started to happen.

Zipline International, for example, is already delivering medical supplies by drone in Rwanda.  They deliver directly to isolated clinics despite any intervening "challenging terrain and gaps in infrastructure."  They plan to limit themselves to medical supplies, but not only in developing countries; they see rural areas in the U.S. as potential opportunities as well.  Last fall they raised $25 million in Series B funding.  

Drones are also being considered for medical supply delivery in Guyana, Haiti, and the Philippines.   

And drone delivery is already being tested in more urban areas.  The Verge reported that Swiss Post, its national postal service, is working with two hospitals in Lugano to ferry lab samples between them. 

Similarly, Johns Hopkins has been testing drone transport of blood supplies, concluding that it is "an effective, safe, and timely way to get blood products to remote accident or natural catastrophe sites, or other time-sensitive destinations."

Airbus is developing the A-180 drone specifically to deliver medical supplies, especially for emergencies.  Its cargo capsule is "capable of transporting everything from medicine and antivenin to supplemental blood and even organs." A company called Otherlab is going a different direction.  Wired reports that their drone will deliver its package -- then decompose, making it ideal for deliveries to humanitarian crises (or to battle sites, since Darpa helped fund them).  

Lest we focus too narrowly on the concept of drones delivering medical supplies, argodesign has proposed a flying ambulance, which could be operated as a drone or by a pilot.  If you've ever seen ambulances stuck in traffic and felt sorry for the patients relying on them, such ambulances could be the solution -- arriving faster and to locations regular ambulances could not reach.  

But for real impact, let's go back to Amazon.  CNBC's Christina Farr broke the news last week that Amazon was considering getting into the pharmacy business. Put rapid delivery -- especially with drones -- together with lower and more transparent prices, and it is no wonder that the stocks of CVS and Walgreens took a hit when the news broke about Amazon's new interest.

Health care has been all-too-much a story of waiting.  That's quickly changing, with telemedicine, WebMD, retail clinics, and -- soon -- 3D printing and health care robots.  We can add health care drones to the list, allowing 30-minutes-or-less kinds of promises that we haven't even begun to tease out yet.

Bring on the drones!

This post is an abridged version of the posting in Kim Bellard’s blogsite. Click here to read the full posting

 

Friday
May192017

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition

Every business day, MCOL posts feature stories making news on the business of health care. Here are five we think are particularly important for this week:

 

House May Need to Vote Again on GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects. House leaders want to make sure the bill conforms with Senate rules for reconciliation, a mechanism that allows Senate Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority. Bloomberg News Friday, May 19, 2017

 

Price pushes Congress to follow Trump plan for more FDA user fees

HHS Secretary Tom Price pressed Congress to heed President Donald Trump's call to make the FDA rely more on industry fees — and less on taxpayer dollars — for product evaluations, as lawmakers continue work on extending the agency's user fee programs.

Politico. Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

Hatch Says He’s Open to Keeping Obamacare’s Individual Mandate

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Wednesday said he wouldn’t be opposed to delaying the repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, making him one of the most senior Republicans to float the idea. Morning Consult. Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

UnitedHealth Doctored Medicare Records, Overbilled U.S. By $1 Billion, Feds Claim

The Justice Department on Tuesday accused giant insurer UnitedHealth Group of overcharging the federal government by more than $1 billion through its Medicare Advantage plans. Kaiser Health News. Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

Bipartisan bill will be reintroduced to force pharma to justify price hikes

A bipartisan group of lawmakers will re-introduce a bill on Tuesday that would require drug makers to justify their pricing and provide a breakdown of their expenses before raising prices on some medicines. StatNews. Monday, May 15, 2017

 

These and more weekly news items on the business of healthcare are featured in the MCOL Weekend edition, along with the MCOL Tidbits, and more, for MCOL Premium level members.

 

Thursday
May182017

Investing in an Index Fund tied to the Milliman Medical Index instead of the Dow Jones Industrial Average

By Clive Riddle, May 18, 2017

Milliman has just released their 2017 Milliman Medical Index, which measures the cost of healthcare for a typical American family of four receiving employer PPO coverage. The total family bill is $26,944 compared to $4,518 in 2001. I want to invest in an index fund tied the Milliman Medical Index. The annual rate of return since 2001 would be 11.805%, compared to 3.874% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average during that same time (Dow Jones May 16 2001: 11,215.92; Dow Jones May 16 2017: 20,606.93). Our Milliman Medical Index fund would outperform the Dow index fund by three times.

But since the Milliman index fund only exists in some alternate universe for now, we might as well dive into some of findings Milliman shares in their 12-page report on this year’s index: 


Pharmacy share of costs have increased during this this time (from 13% to 17%) as have Outpatient (from 14% to 19%) while Professional services decreased (from 40% to 30%) and Inpatient remained about the same (from 30% to 31%).

Here verbatim are Milliman’s three key findings:

1. The MMI’s annual rate of increase is 4.3%. This is the lowest rate since we began tracking the MMI in 2001. Yet the total dollar amount is still bracingly high. Of the $26,944 spent by the MMI’s family of four, $11,685 is paid by the employee, through a combination of $7,151 in payroll deductions for premium, and $4,534 in out-of-pocket costs incurred at time of care.

 

2. Prescription drug trends are lower, but still high. For the first time since 2013 and 2014, the family of four’s prescription drug trends have decreased in two consecutive years. Still, the 2017 prescription drug cost increase of 8% is more than double the medical increase of 3.6%.

 

3. Employees pay a bigger piece of the healthcare cost pie. Through their payroll deductions and through out-of-pocket expenses incurred when care is received, employees now pay for about 43% of expenses and employers pay the other 57%. The difference between these two shares has gradually narrowed since 2001, when employees contributed 39% and employers contributed 61%. High growth in per-employee healthcare expenditures have pushed employers to limit their contribution increases to amounts below the rate of healthcare inflation.


Friday
May122017

Friday Five: Top 5 healthcare business news items from the MCOL Weekend edition

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Every business day, MCOL posts feature stories making news on the business of health care. Here are five we think are particularly important for this week:

 

Industry Hopeful Senate Health Care Debate Focuses on Policy, Not Politics

The health care industry is hopeful senators will be more receptive to outside groups than their House colleagues were, as the Senate takes the reins on overhauling the Affordable Care Act. Morning Consult. May 11, 2017

 

Senate GOP making tax credits look more like … Obamacare

There’s growing support for making the tax credits more generous for poorer people. Senate Republicans are working on a potential breakthrough that could help push through an Obamacare repeal bill – by making insurance subsidies look a lot like Obamacare.

Politico May 11, 2017

 

CMS Gives States Until 2022 To Meet Medicaid Standards Of Care

The Trump administration has given states three extra years to carry out plans for helping elderly and disabled people receive Medicaid services without being forced to go into nursing homes. Kaiser Health News. May 11, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

 

Aetna Fully Exits Obamacare Exchanges With Pull-Out in Two States

The New York Times reports: Health insurer Aetna Inc said on Wednesday it will exit the 2018 Obamacare individual insurance market in Delaware and Nebraska - the two remaining states where it offered the plans. NYTimes. May 10, 2017

 

Who will decide what the Senate’s health bill looks like? Follow the Medicaid-state senators.

The Senate has broken into a series of “working groups” to begin writing its own version of legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. There’s the leadership-driven group, a group of moderates and there was talk about a more conservative group before it was mostly absorbed into the leadership group. The Washington Post. May 9, 2017

 

These and more weekly news items on the business of healthcare are featured in the MCOL Weekend edition, along with the MCOL Tidbits, and more, for MCOL Premium level members.