Mid-week update

The Obama Administration announced in evident response to the Robert Pear article discussed in the latest Weekend Update that it would be tightening up the rules for enrolling in the ACA exchange plans outside of the ACA open season according to the Wall Street Journal. The power of the press in action.

In other Obama Administration news, Health Care IT News reports that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services plan to replace their unloved meaningful use program with a new pay for performance program intended to win over the hearts and minds of the medical community. The meaningful use program was the consideration for the $30 billion that the federal government used to fund electronic medical record systems for health care providers which don’t communicate with each other.

In other healthcare IT news, MedCity News reports on the recent demise of HealthSpot a telehealth kiosk operator that had appeared to be gaining traction with pharmacies and healthcare systems.

Competitors are not exactly celebrating the failure of HealthSpot. “I am actually not happy at all about the demise of HealthSpot,” said Dr. Roy Schoenberg, CEO of American Well. He lauded the company for demonstrating through its partnerships with the likes of Rite Aid, Cleveland Clinic and others that there is value in remote care. * * *
Schoenberg, for one, does not believe the kiosks were HealthSpot’s Achilles’ Heel, since AmericanWell also offers a kiosk option. “Our kiosks have actually been a very fast-growing part of the business,” he said. A bigger issue, according to Schoenberg, is that HealthSpot required patients and providers to pre-arrange appointments; it was not truly telemedicine on demand. “You actually have to build a lot of administration around it,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that prescription drug manufacturer have continued their practice of jacking up prices around the beginning of the new year. For example,

Since New Year’s Day, Pfizer has raised list prices an average of 10.6% for more than 60 branded products with annual U.S. sales of at least $10 million, according to Deutsche Bank. Prices for eight of the products went up at least 20%. Pfizer also left prices unchanged for about 10 products.

No bueno.

FCW.com reports that the FBI and DHS have released an unclassified report full of “recommended security practices [evidently] based on the OPM breach.”  The report is informative but does not provide a link to the report.

Finally seekingalpha.com reports that Aetna and Anthem independently have stated their corporate expectations that their mergers with Humana and Cigna, respectively, remain on track to close later this year.