News Headlines for May 24, 2019

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Analysis: A Health Care Overhaul Could Kill 2 Million Jobs, And That’s OK
Kaiser Health News

As calls for radical health reform grow louder, many on the right, in the center and in the health care industry are arguing that proposals like “Medicare for All” would cause economic ruin, decimating a sector that represents nearly 20% of our economy.

While exploring a presidential run, former Starbucks chief Howard Schultz called Medicare for All “not American,” adding, “What industry are we going to abolish next — the coffee industry?” He said that it would “wipe out the insurance industry.”

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The Health 202: Momentum is building in Congress to take on surprise medical bills
Washington Post

Congress probably won’t do any big health-care things this year. But it might take some smaller action.

Around Capitol Hill, pockets of legislators are partnering on incremental measures aimed at making health care more affordable for American consumers. In the past week, House and Senate members have released three separate bipartisan proposals to halt surprise medical bills. A fourth and more sweeping measure, rolled out yesterday by Sens.

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Sen. Alexander Releases Bipartisan Plan To Lower Health Costs, End Surprise Bills
Kaiser Health News

In a year already marked by a wide variety of congressional health care legislation, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair and ranking Democrat of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on Thursday released the details of a plan they hope can help bring down health costs and eliminate surprise medical bills for patients.

“These are common sense steps we can take, and every single one of them has the objective of reducing the health care costs that you pay for out of your own pocket,” Alexander said in a statement.

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Senate committee unveils sweeping healthcare bill package
Modern Healthcare

The Senate health committee on Thursday released its draft legislation to tackle healthcare costs, with provisions that read like a road map of how hospitals and insurers use contracts to dominate their competitors, consolidate their business and keep patients in the dark.

The proposal marks the healthcare legislative swan song of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) as head of the Senate health committee. The package aims to clear up some of the system’s opaqueness; mend loopholes exploited by hospitals, insurers and manufacturers; and cut some fat out of the healthcare industry through simple reforms.

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House leaders propose restructuring Medicare Part D
Modern Healthcare

U.S. House of Representatives health committee leaders have drafted new reforms to Medicare Part D as Congress prepares for a final legislative sprint on drug pricing.

On Thursday, the Democratic chairs and ranking Republicans of the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce panels released the discussion draft of a bill to cap what people have to pay out-of-pocket for medications under Medicare Part D.

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Health officials considered no-fly list to prevent measles transmission
CNN

State and local health officials have consulted with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent months about the possibility of preventing individuals from flying to prevent measles transmission.

This year, there have been such discussions about eight individuals in five states, as first reported by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The eight individuals were either confirmed to be infected, believed to have a high probability of having measles or at high risk due to not being immune to the highly contagious virus and suspected of being in close contact with someone who has measles, CDC spokeswoman Caitlin Shockey told CNN.

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Use Of Buprenorphine To Treat Opioid Addiction Proliferates In California
California Healthline

Buprenorphine, a relative newcomer in the treatment of opioid addiction, is growing in popularity among California doctors as regulatory changes, physician training and other initiatives make the medication more widely accessible.

The rate of Medi-Cal enrollees who received buprenorphine nearly quadrupled from the end of 2014 to the third quarter of 2018, according to data released by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The rate for methadone — an older and more commonly used drug — was almost unchanged from the end of 2014 through the last quarter of 2017, the most recent period for which data are available.

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Why this pain-killing opioid is spinning into a new company
San Francisco Business Times

Three months ahead of a regulatory decision on its pain-killing opioid, Nektar Therapeutics Inc. spun the drug into a wholly owned subsidiary.

Inheris Biopharma Inc. also will adopt several preclinical central nervous system assets that it will lead into development, San Francisco-based Nektar (NASDAQ: NKTR) said Thursday.

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Oncologists set to lose big under CMS payment model
Modern Healthcare

A new analysis suggests most oncology practices participating in CMS‘ voluntary bundled-payment model are not prepared to take on downside risk and need more time to prepare before the mandatory start date in July.

New estimates released Tuesday by Avalere Health projected around 70% of the 176 oncology practices participating in the Oncology Care Model would owe the CMS payments to recoup costs if they moved from their current one-sided, upside risk arrangement to a two-sided risk arrangement where they would be responsible for paying the difference if they did not meet a target pr

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Editorial: Volunteerism is not enough
Modern Healthcare

New York Times columnist David Brooks’ book, The Second Mountain, documents how he moved from midlife despair to personal fulfillment by seeking out individuals and groups who are rebuilding their communities through empathy-driven community action.

There’s nothing unique about the conservative-turned-never-Trumper’s critique of an America now wallowing in tribalism, anger and despair. Decades ago, prominent sociologists like Christopher Lasch (The Culture of Narcissism) and Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) sounded alarm bells about the long-term consequences of rampant individualism. They feared the evisceration of the institutions that brought people together would undermine democracy. 

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How Civil War Plant Remedies Could Improve Modern Medicine
Atlas Obscura

 An 1863 text called Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests by Francis Porcher, a botanist and surgeon from South Carolina, was a compendium of plants known to have medicinal properties, and a guide to how they should be applied. Much of Porcher’s research was culled from longstanding healing traditions used by Native American and enslaved African communities, so it is perhaps ironic that his book was commissioned by the Confederacy and used to treat wounds during the Civil War. Recently, scientists at Emory University have studied three of the species—widely found across the South— described in the book to assess whether they would have been successful in the treatment of wounded soldiers, and how they might be incorporated in modern medicine.

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The Waiting Game: When Hospitals Say No, Where Can Uninsured Patients Find Surgery?
capital public radio

Leticia isn’t sure where she is on the waitlist.

She knows it’s been about seven months since she asked a pro bono surgery program for help with her aching left knee, and her doctor says it could be another half a year until her number comes up. She knows there are other patients in front of her who can’t afford the procedure, and who, like her, are depending on volunteer physicians to get their lives back on track.

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10 diabetes drugs Bay Area biotech companies have in the pipeline
San Francisco Business Times

Companies big and small have a variety of diabetes-related drugs in different stages of development.

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Bay Area researchers find new ways to attack diabetes
San Francisco Business Times

Technology has changed how scientists can approach treating the deadly disease.

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How this Palo Alto-based startup is betting big on AI to make health systems more personalized
San Francisco Business Times

Springboarding off $10 million in funding, rapidly growing SymphonyRM is sifting through a mix of data to provide analytics on personalized “next best actions.”

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AI insights company founded by Stanford professors raises $22M
AI in Healthcare

An AI-enabled health insights company, Cardinal Analytx Solutions, has raised $22 million in a series B funding round.

The company, which was founded by Stanford professors Arnie Milstein, MD, and Nigam Shah, MBBS, PhD, integrates predictive insights with meaningful actions to find people at high risk of rising cost and worsening health, according to a press release. The platform matches people with interventions that can prevent further decline in their health. The proactive healthcare company was also founded in partnership with Cardinal Partners.

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