Tuesday Tidbits

The Wall Street Journal reports tonight that

A Republican congressman who helped shepherd the party’s health-care overhaul bill through the House last month predicted Tuesday that a final bill will pass the Senate and land on the president’s desk before August.  House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden’s estimate, described at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network meeting in Washington, suggests he is optimistic that Senate leaders will be able to meet a self-imposed July 4 deadline for passing their health legislation.

The Washington Examiner weighs in with an article about the ongoing Senate deliberations.

The major consulting firm, PwC, came out its Health Research Institutes’s annual projection of next year’s health care cost trend.

Heading into 2018, the healthcare industry appears to be settling into a “new normal” marked by more moderate fluctuations in a single-digit medical cost trend.  HRI projects 2018’s medical cost trend to be 6.5%—the first uptick in growth in three years.

Following health plan benefit design actions in the next Open Season, PwC expects the net increase to be 5.5%.  PwC describes the mid single digit growth to be unsustainable.  

PwC advises employers to consider the following actions:

  • Target work site health promotion programs to the right people.
  • Evaluate the value of drug spending.
  • Focus more on provider arrangements to tackle price.
PwC advises health plans to consider the following actions:

  • Look for ways to automate processes.
  • Consider alternative therapies.
  • Explore value-based purchasing with biopharmaceutical companies.
  • Take ownership of collaborating with pharmaceutical companies and providers to manage high-risk patients.
  • Be providers’ partner in reducing medical costs.
Fierce Healthcare has a useful article summarizing the PwC report.  It also offers a follow up report from AHIP’s Institute held last week in Austin, TX, on the observations that “health plan leaders shared some of the innovative ways their organizations are tacking the steep challenge of helping members live healthier lives.” Good luck with that. 
Finally, the Hill tells us about a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday that will help speed cost saving biosimilar drugs to market. “The Court in Sandoz v. Amgen ruled 9-0 in favor of generic drugmaker Sandoz in a dispute with rival company Amgen. The court ruled that manufacturers of low-cost biosimilars don’t need to wait an extra six months after FDA approval to launch their product.” Yeah!