From Capitol Hill, Politico points out that
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the impact PBMs — the pharmaceutical middlemen that negotiate drug discounts with drugmakers and design prescription drug benefits for health plans — have on the health system.
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee is also expected to look into how much value PBMs add as part of a broader discussion about fairness in the healthcare market, according to a memo shared with [Politico].
In related news, CMS “released several Prescription Drug Data Collection (RxDC) resources on the Registration for Technical Assistance Portal (REGTAP). To view the documents, click on the link next to each document title. You may already have the links in your bookmarks.”
- Reporting Instructions https://regtap.cms.gov/reg_librarye.php?i=3860
- Data Templates https://regtap.cms.gov/reg_librarye.php?i=3863
- Drug Crosswalk https://regtap.cms.gov/reg_librarye.php?i=3861
- Data Validations https://regtap.cms.gov/reg_librarye.php?i=4232
- RxDC HIOS Module User manual https://regtap.cms.gov/reg_librarye.php?&i=3862
This guidance applies to the 2022 RxDC report that health plans must submit by June 1, 2022. Health plans submitted the first RxDc report for the 2021 reporting year last January. The No Surprises Act calls for a standard June 1 submission date for the RxDC report for the previous reporting year.
CMS also announced that the public has sixty days (to May 26) to comment on the revised Reporting Instructions.
The FEHBlog recently discovered this CMS REGTAP portal. As you can see, this portal is not just for Medicare and Medicaid. The portal includes a link to get an email announcement when REGTAP changes. REGTAPs emails are handy and not overwhelming.
From the Rx coverage front —
STAT News adds an interesting perspective on last week’s Senate hearing on Moderna Covid vaccine pricing
What, [Chairman Bernie] Sanders asked [Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel], if instead of purchasing medicines after they had been developed at high prices, the government instead paid for companies’ research, enough to ensure they make a reasonable profit? Then, Sanders said, the medicines could be made available inexpensively to anyone who needed them.
Bancel, clearly baffled by what sounded a lot like the government seizing the means of pharmaceutical production, simply said it was impossible to evaluate such a plan without details.
As much as the plan sounds like socialism, in a world where substantial quantities of new medicines are purchased by government programs, Sanders’ idea is pretty close to the way defense companies work: The government pays them substantial amounts of money to develop jet fighters, satellites, and aircraft carriers. This system is certainly not cheap, but it represents an alternative to the way medicines are developed. * * *
Whether this is a good idea or not, it probably won’t happen. Because not only is Congress unlikely to fund a $200 billion-a-year effort to replace industry research on new medicines, it won’t fund a $20 billion effort to get the government in the game, either.
Beckers Hospital Review informs us
Walgreens and Village Medical have launched a new pilot program that helps patients manage new medications prescribed during their hospital stay.
The program, launched as a pilot in Florida and Texas, helps Walgreens and Village Medical patients manage their new prescriptions and existing ones after they are discharged from a hospital, according to a March 23 release from Walgreens.
The aim of the program is to improve patient outcomes and decrease costs associated with hospital readmissions.
From the substance use disorder front, STAT News reports
Public health workers will soon have a new tool at their disposal to thwart a spreading danger to users of illicit drugs: xylazine test strips.
The new testing kits will allow health departments, grassroots harm-reduction groups, and individual drug users to test substances for the presence of xylazine, a sedative often referred to as “tranq.”
The toxin is increasingly common in the U.S. illicit-drug supply — especially in the Philadelphia area, but increasingly in other cities, too. Xylazine, which is typically used as a sedative in veterinary settings, can cause people to stop breathing, and also often causes severe skin wounds when injected.
While helpful for public health workers, will drug users take the time to do both tests when the two potentially fatal drugs usually are combined? FEHBlog expects that a fentanyl and xylazine test strip will be on the market soon.
From the U.S. healthcare business front —
- Hospitals strongly oppose MEDPAC’s recommendation that Medicare Part A make a low reimbursement increase for the new federal government fiscal year, while some healthcare economists support MEDPAC’s proposal.
- Healthcare Dive tells us
- “CVS plans to close its acquisition of home healthcare provider Signify Health on or around Wednesday, subject to certain conditions, the company announced Monday.
- “CVS agreed to acquire Signify for $30.50 a share in cash in September in a transaction worth roughly $8 billion.
- “That deal will close this week as long as CVS and Signify can meet or waive the remaining conditions in their merger agreement, according to CVS. A CVS spokesperson declined to share details on the remaining conditions.
- Beckers Hospital Review notes that another well know CEO has ripped a page out of the Mark Cuban playbook.
- “Love.Life, a health and wellness company co-founded and run by former Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, acquired Plant Based TeleHealth, a telehealth service focusing on the prevention and reversal of chronic conditions.
- “The company will rebrand as Love.Life Telehealth. The company offers virtual visits to patients with chronic conditions and promotes healthy behaviors, according to a March 21 Love.Life news release.
- “Patients can sign up for half-hour appointments for $175 or hourlong appointments for $350.”
- “Love.Life is about making lasting health and vitality achievable, and acquiring Plant Based TeleHealth accelerates our ability to help more people without geographic limitations,” Mr. Mackey said. “Appointments are available now, and we’re excited to offer telehealth services as part of the comprehensive medical offering available in our physical locations, which will begin opening in 2024.”