Midweek update

Congress is making progress toward an omnibus spending bill for the current fiscal year, according to the Hill. The deadline is Friday, March 22.

The FEHBlog ran across an excellent op-ed written by a couple of physicians explaining why your doctor’s computer is so “clunky.” Hint: as the FEHBlog has pointed out the problem lies with the $37 billion dollar electronic medical record giveaway in the 2009 stimulus law. The author’s recommendation?

In announcing the [recent] Trump-administration initiative, White House aide Jared Kushner and Seema Verna, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said health-technology companies, insurers, doctors, hospitals and patient groups have been working together for six months on an initiative called MyHealthEData to modernize EHRs and achieve interoperability. But the usual suspects can only do so much. This is a market begging for competition from the likes of Amazon, whose cost-cutting and ease-of-use expertise is well established. Apple has also made a welcome entrance into the market. The administration can help by directing HHS to allow EHR competition.

Healthcare Dive reports on a Fair Health survey that not surprisingly finds that “Private insurance claim lines for services rendered in urgent care centers grew 1,725% between 2007 and 2016. That was well above the growth rate of 229% for emergency room (ER) claims during the same period.” After all, if you build it, they will come. The report does indicate that prices are lower in the urgent care centers as compared to the hospital emergency rooms.

Modern Healthcare informs us that a shortage in injectable opioids is threatening patient care due to a manufaturing problem at a Pfizer factory.

Other companies can’t make up the difference because they don’t have the capacity. Even if they did, the Drug Enforcement Administration is unwilling to give them large amounts of raw materials. The DEA implements annual caps on the amount of raw material a manufacturer can use to make opioids—one mechanism it has to try to limit the diversion of the addictive drugs amid the addiction epidemic.  

The DEA has not shifted those caps to allow other manufacturers to produce enough to offset the shortage of injectable narcotics, according to Premier, which has advocated for the agency to loosen its quota restrictions. 

Ruh roh.