The Wall Street Journal reports this afternoon that U.S. District Judge John Bates has decided a trial in the Justice Department’s lawsuit to block Aetna/Humana merger will begin on December 5, 2016, and is expected to last 13 days. This injunction case necessarily will be tried to the judge. The judge expects to issue a ruling in mid-January 2017. The defendants had wanted an October trial date and the Government had wanted a February trial date. The article adds that ” Judge Amy Berman Jacksonis now presiding over the Anthem[/Cigna merger] matter. She has set a hearing this Friday to discuss trial scheduling for that case.”
Kaiser Health News reports on a National Business Group on Health survey of large employers. The upshot of the report is that large employers are expecting a 5% increase in employee healthcare costs next year.
Speaking of healthcare costs, here are a few interesting tidbits:
- AHA News reports
Medicare Advantage plans paid about 8% less for hospital services than fee-for-service Medicare in 2009 and 2012, according to a study published yesterday by Health Affairs. About one-third of the difference was due to the narrower hospital networks in Medicare Advantage, the authors said. “Consistent with previous work, we found that commercial plans paid significantly more than either Medicare Advantage or FFS Medicare,” the study notes. The data on MA and commercial plans was from the Health Care Cost Institute, and represented about 31% of the elderly MA population and 27% of the non-elderly population covered by commercial plans.
- Fierce Healthcare tells us about an eHealth Careers survey on healthcare provider incomes which finds that doctor and physician assistant incomes are up while nurse incomes are down.
- The Wall Street Journal offers an eyepopping story on how the cost of new medical tests administered in doctor’s offices is driving up Medicare costs.
- Given the fact that the Kaiser Health News article which lead off this section described the 5% projected increase as “moderate, the FEHBlog calls your attention to this Health Affairs Blog article suggesting that the U.S. may not be able to afford moderate healthcare spending increases like this.
When Medicare Advantage patients pick up all their medication refills on the same day at the same place, medication adherence improves, according to a joint study from Penn Medicine and Humana’s research arm. “Synchronizing” refills over the course of 12 months increased adherence by 3 percent to 5 percent, according to the study. The researchers said the effect was more pronounced among patients with lower baseline adherence.