Midweek update

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

From Washington, DC

  • The Wall Street Journal reports,
    • “The House elected GOP Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana as speaker Wednesday, with the staunch conservative overcoming the divisions that had paralyzed the chamber after a band of hard-liners ousted Kevin McCarthy three weeks ago.
    • “The choice of Johnson, aligned with former President Donald Trump, came after House Republicans nominated and then dumped a series of leadership candidates, prompting some members to wonder whether any colleague could thread the needle in the deeply divided conference. With a speaker now in place, lawmakers can return to work, with many eager to pass aid for Israel and address a looming government-funding deadline next month.”
  • STAT News tells us,
    • “A Senate health panel on Wednesday voted to send President Biden’s nominee to lead the National Institutes of Health to the chamber’s floor, moving Monica Bertagnolli one step closer to taking the longtime vacant role of permanent director.
    • “The Senate HELP Committee advanced her nomination on a 15-6 vote, with many Republicans voting in support and only Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) breaking with the Democratic caucus to vote against her. * * *
    • “Her nomination will now move to the Senate floor for a full vote, though it is unclear when that will be scheduled.”
  • The NIH National Cancer Institute shares its weekly research highlights.
  • The American Hospital Association News points out,
    • “Starting Oct. 25, consumers can preview their 2024 health coverage options at the federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace. Open enrollment for the 2024 marketplace runs Nov. 1 through Jan. 15, with coverage starting Jan. 1 for consumers who enroll by midnight on Dec. 15. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expects that 96% of the website’s customers will have access to three or more insurance issuers and four in five can find coverage for $10 or less per month after subsidies.”
  • FedWeek calls attention to the fact that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Inspector General has released its annual report identifying top management challenges.

From the Federal Employee Benefits Open Season front, FedSmith provides a healthcare roadmap for federal retirees. Govexec provides its perspective on Open Season planning here.

From the public health front,

  • Politico reports,
    • “So far, 12 million people, or about 3.6 percent of the population, have gotten the shot in the five weeks since it hit pharmacy shelves — though reporting lags mean it’s likely a bit higher, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Mandy Cohen said.
    • “More people, by far — 16 million — have gotten their annual flu vaccine, Cohen said, attributing the difference to long-held routines.”
  • From Fierce BioTech,
    • “As Americans flock to nearby orchards for festive bouts of autumn apple picking, Insulet is celebrating a particularly bountiful stateside Apple harvest itself.
    • “The diabetes device maker has earned FDA clearance for the iPhone version of an app allowing users to control their Omnipod 5 insulin pumps from their own smartphones. Meanwhile, the app has been available to Android owners since the pump’s full U.S. launch began a year ago.
    • “In Insulet’s Monday announcement about the Apple clearance, Eric Benjamin, the company’s chief product and customer experience officer, hailed the impending launch of the app as a “significant milestone in our ongoing effort to provide people with diabetes solutions that improve their lives and help them think less about diabetes.”
  • Morning Consult informs us,
    • “28% of U.S. adults said they are interested in taking prescription GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic, Mounjaro or Wegovy for weight loss, a share relatively consistent with August and April surveys. 
    • “Consumers who have heard “a lot” about the drugs, have weight-related health conditions or have higher incomes are most likely to be interested in taking the medications.
    • “The impacts of weight loss drugs on the health industry are clear, but other sectors, like food and retail, are likely to feel the effects of changing consumer preferences. Brands that create products and services to help support a more health-conscious consumer will be best-positioned to weather disruption from Ozempic or future weight loss drug innovations.”
  • Per MedTech Dive,
    • “Boston Scientific shared pivotal trial results on Wednesday that showed promising results for its drug-eluting balloon in treating patients with repeat blockages.
    • “The company’s Agent drug-coated balloon performed better than an uncoated balloon in procedures to reopen blocked arteries at one year, according to data presented at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) 2023 conference. Boston Scientific was the study sponsor.”
  • BioPharma Dive lets us know,
    • “Patients with Alzheimer’s disease may have another treatment option in the not-too-distant future, as newly released data appear to support a more convenient version of the closely watched medicine Leqembi.
    • “Developed by partners Eisai and Biogen, Leqembi is the only Alzheimer’s medicine of its type with a full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. It’s specifically for patients in the early stages of the disease, and is given as an hourlong, intravenous infusion once every two weeks.
    • “Eisai and Biogen have been testing whether a different form of Leqembi, an under-the-skin injection, can be as safe and effective as the already marketed version. On Wednesday, at a medical conference in Boston, researchers presented results from a study of nearly 400 participants that suggests the two forms are roughly comparable.”
  • The New York Times reports,
    • “In the year after the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to abortion, something unexpected happened: The total number of legal abortions in the United States did not fall. Instead, it appeared to increase slightly, by about 0.2 percent, according to the first full-year count of abortions provided nationwide.
    • “This finding came despite the fact that 14 states banned all abortions, and seven imposed new limits on them. Even as those restrictions reduced the legal abortion rate to near zero in some states, there were large increases in places where abortions remained legal. Researchers said they were driven by the expansion of telemedicine for mail-order abortion pills, increased options and assistance for women who traveled, and a surge of publicity about ways to get abortions.”

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • Beckers Hospital Review notes, “Newsweek has released the top 600 U.S. hospitals ranked by state, sorted by a score that factors recommendations, patient experience, quality and patient-reported outcome measures.” The article identifies the top hospital on the Newsweek scale in each State and DC.   
  • Beckers Payer Issues tells us how payer accountable care organizations (ACOs) fared in 2022.
  • Beckers Hospital Review also interviews an executive from a Texas hospital about how the facility is planning to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  • Per Fierce Healthcare,
    • “An otherwise strong Q3 performance across HCA Healthcare’s businesses was marred by news that the for-profit’s recently integrated physician staffing joint venture will be bleeding tens of millions of dollars per quarter for the foreseeable future.”
  • and
    • “UnitedHealth Group is making a $5 million investment in Enable Ventures, a fund that aims to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
    • “The investment will back companies that can create better quality of life, offer resources to entrepreneurs with disabilities and provide support to people with disabilities who are unemployed or underemployed. Enable puts a focus on providing the technologies and tools necessary to upskill or reskill people with disabilities to help them enter or reenter the workforce, according to the announcement.
    • “Catherine Anderson, senior vice president of health equity strategy at UnitedHealth Group, told Fierce Healthcare in an interview that backing Enable aligns with the company’s broader investment strategy around health equity.”