Tuesday Tidbits

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

From Washington, DC,

  • This morning, the Federal Trade Commission released an interim staff report on its ongoing investigation of prescription benefit managers. The report was favorably received by Senators Wyden and Grassley. Healthcare Dive summarizes the report here.
  • The FEHBlog recalls when around 2009 the State of New York went after UnitedHealthcare for offering a for profit service that provided usual, reasonable and customary rates for out-of-network providers. In a legal settlement, UnitedHealthcare transferred the service to a new not-for-profit company called Fair Health. Meanwhile most health plans had switched to the Medicare Part RBRVS pricing as base for its UCR reimbursements. Nevertheless, Fair Health is still around.
  • Today, the American Hospital Association News tells us,
    • “An op-ed published July 9 in Modern Healthcare written by AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack and Catholic Health Association President and CEO Sr. Mary Haddad discusses why nonprofit hospitals need positive margins. The commentary piece seeks to add important context and education to the conversation around nonprofit hospitals’ community benefit, tax-exempt status and other issues, arguing that positive margins are necessary to maintain basic services and advance care for all patients and communities 24/7. “Barely making ends meet or operating at a financial loss should never be the goal or an acceptable status quo for any nonprofit healthcare organization,” Pollack and Haddad write. “It’s not just bad economics; it also impedes institutions’ ability to deliver services and improve health outcomes.”
  • If the regulators are considering taking a page out of the Fair Health playbook, consider this finding from a USC-Brookings report issued last September:
    • “Pre-tax operating margins for the three largest PBMs averaged a bit more than 4% of their revenues in 2022. Since PBMs’ revenues encompass both the administrative fees charged to PBMs and payers’ net payments for claims, this implies that even completely eliminating PBMs’ margins [a no-no] would only modestly reduce payers’ drug-related costs. Achieving larger reductions would require reducing the revenue captured by pharmacies or, particularly, manufacturers. Ultimately, the amount of revenue that manufacturers capture depends principally on the extent of intellectual property protections related to drugs and whether and how the prices that drug manufacturers receive are regulated.”
  • The healthcare industry is complex, to say the least, and there are no simple answers.

From the public health and medical research front,

  • “Did you know that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) has a free app called Prevention TaskForce? This app can help healthcare professionals identify which screenings, counseling interventions, and preventive medications are right for their patients. It includes all current Task Force recommendations and can be searched by specific patient characteristics, such as age, sex/gender, and selected behavioral risk factors. Download the app, on mobile or desktop, to find the preventive services that can help keep your patients healthy.”
    • “For more information and to download the app, click here.”
  • STAT News reports,
    • “In a long-awaited study, patients in Australia will soon receive an IV infusion designed to transform their own immune cells into swarms of cancer-fighting drones.
    • “The trial, announced on Tuesday by Interius Biotherapeutics, will be the first to test what’s known technically as in vivo CAR-T therapy. Researchers have long hoped the approach could provide a potentially cheaper, safer, and more scalable version of the cell therapies that are curative for some blood cancer patients but remain out of reach for many. 
    • “Interius received regulatory clearance on June 28 and will dose up to 30 patients, beginning in the fall. It beat out several competitors, including one with over $1 billion in funding, to the first-in-human trial.  
    • “There are absolutely people alive out there today that would not have been without the CAR technology,” said Dora Mitchell, Interius’ senior vice president for operations. But the therapy is still only delivered in some places in the U.S. and Europe and almost nowhere else. “The vision that catalyzed the formation of Interius was: can we bring this to the masses?”
  • Healio informs us,
    • “There is insignificant evidence to support recommendations that children with autism will benefit from intensive interventions, according to the results of a meta-analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics.
    • “One of the study’s authors told Healio that in reviewing standard intervention recommendations for autism in children, she found that one recommended that children receive at least 20 hours or up to 40 hours of intensive intervention per week.
    • “This recommendation originated initially from a quasi-experimental study conducted in the ’80s that, although remarkable for the time, was flawed,” Micheal P. Sandbank, PhD, director of The Brain and Language Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, told Healio. “There have been additional studies since then, but most were quasi-experimental and compared intensive intervention with different uncontrolled supports, failing to isolate the effect of intensity specifically from the effect of providing a systematic and comprehensive intervention approach.”
  • The Washington Post explains what to know about six popular home tests for urinary tract infections, menopause, allergies, colon cancer, A1c blood sugar and thyroid conditions.

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • Beckers Hospital CFO report informs us,
    • “Average hospital margins year to date remained steadfast in May at 3.8%, according to Kaufman Hall’s “National Hospital Flash Report,” released July 9.
    • “Hospital financial performance remained relatively unchanged during the month of May, and the rate of change slowed for margins and other key performance indicators, which reflects stabilization,” wrote Erik Swanson, senior vice president at Kaufman Hall.
    • “The stabilization is a positive sign for hospitals after ending the year with average margins at 1.9%. The average hospital margin shot up in January to 4.6% and then decreased slightly in February and March.
    • “From April to May, the monthly average operating margin index dipped from 4.2% to 3.7%. Operating margins increased 23% year to date over the same period last year.”
  • BioPharma Dive reports,
    • “Pfizer’s top scientist Mikael Dolsten is stepping down after leading the drugmaker’s research and development for the past 15 years, a period that includes Pfizer’s remarkable success developing a COVID-19 vaccine but ends with the company at a crossroads.
    • “On Tuesday, Pfizer said it has begun searching for a successor to Dolsten, who in 2010 became chief scientific officer as well as R&D head. The process is expected to last “probably through early next year,” Pfizer said.
    • “Dolsten will help with the search and continue to serve in his current position until a successor is in place and “any necessary transition is complete,” according to Pfizer.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *