From Washington, DC —
Roll Call reports on the state of the debt ceiling negotiations and Senator Bernie Sanders’s encounter today with the Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel at a Senate hearing that Senate Sanders chaired. The FEHBlog can’t understand why Senator Sanders and his majority colleagues are flipping their lids over a $100 price per vial increase on a low-cost vaccine.
Fierce Healthcare tells us,
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s recent breakdown of the hospital sector’s financial viability largely struck a different tone from the doom and gloom industry groups have voiced as of late.
The independent commission advises Congress on year-to-year Medicare policy adjustments, which are largely based on data from 2020 and 2021, preliminary data for 2022 and trend projections for upcoming years. It released its annual report to Congress last week.
With the exception of additional support for safety-net providers—which industry group America’s Essential Hospitals (AEH) has already criticizedfor “overlooking” uncompensated care delivered to non-Medicare patients—the group largely told Congress that most hospitals will manage their finances and recommended that lawmakers stay the course with 2024’s inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) and outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) rules.
“The Commission anticipates that a 2024 update to hospital payment rates of current law plus 1% would generally be adequate to maintain FFS beneficiaries’ access to hospital inpatient and outpatient care and keep IPPS and OPPS payment rates close to the cost of delivering high-quality care efficiently,” the group wrote in its report (PDF).
This decision must have the American Hospital Association flipping its lid.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced an organ procurement and transplantation network modernization initiative that “includes the release of new organ donor and transplant data; prioritization of modernization of the OPTN IT system; and call for Congress to make specific reforms in the National Organ Transplant Act.” More background on his announcement is available at Roll Call.
From the Rx coverage front
STAT News reports
An independent panel of advisors to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday concluded that a treatment developed by Biogen for a rare, genetic form of ALS should be approved, despite unanswered questions about its benefit to patients.
By a 9-0 vote, the FDA advisory panel said the “totality of the evidence” was sufficient to support conditional approval of the Biogen drug, called tofersen. By a 3-5 vote (with one abstention) the same experts concluded that the tofersen data, including from a failed clinical trial, were not sufficiently convincing to support full approval.
The FDA is not required to follow the recommendation of its outside advisors, but often does. The mixed votes suggest the FDA will likely grant Biogen accelerated approval for tofersen based on preliminary evidence. This would allow the company to market the drug while it collects additional data to confirm its benefit.
Benefits Pro offers guidance on employer-sponsored health plan coverage of the new weight loss drugs, Mounjaro, Saxenda, and Wegovy. OPM has already decided that FEHB carriers will oprovidecoverage of one or more of these drugs in their 2024 formularies. Currently, carriers are developing their 2024 benefit and rate proposals.
The FEHBlog has flipped his lid because he discovered that OPM hhadrefreshed its FEHB carrier website. This merits further investigation.
The Wall Street Journal reports
Federal health regulators are nearing a decision on whether to authorize a second round of the Omicron-targeted booster shots for the elderly and other people at high-risk of severe Covid-19, people familiar with the agency’s deliberations said.
Food and Drug Administration officials could make the decision within a few weeks, the people said.
The officials are moving toward authorizing the second jabs of the Omicron-targeted shots for people who are 65 years and older or who have weakened immune systems, though the officials haven’t reached a final decision and could change their mind, one of the people said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would then have to recommend the shots for them to become widely available.
From the primary care front, Healthcare Finance informs us
People are shifting away from traditional primary care providers, with about three in 10 foregoing primary care altogether between 2016 and 2022, according to FAIR Health’s new analysis of private claims data.
That number, though, ranged from a high of 43% in Tennessee to a low of 16% in Massachusetts, suggesting significant regional variations. Of the providers who performed primary care services in that time, 56% were physicians, while 44% were nonphysicians. * * *
The analysis pointed to evidence showing that primary care improves health regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, education, employment, income, health insurance and smoking status. It has also been reported that a gain of 10 additional primary care physicians per 100,000 people is associated with an increase in life expectancy by 51.5 days.
Guiding members to primary care providers is a vital health plan task, in the FEHBlog’s opinion.
From the miscellany department —
- Health IT Analytics highlights, “Researchers from Utica University recently leveraged socioeconomic data to gain insights into generational poverty and other health equity barriers that impact patients’ ability to prioritize their health to improve clinical outcomes.”Hela
- Health Payer Intelligence relates, “The National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions (National Alliance) has announced the publication of its playbook which aims to encourage biosimilar adoption among employers.”