News for Insurers
Top stories summarized by our editors
2/20/2020

Children whose mothers used macrolide antibiotics -- such as azithromycin, clarithromycin and erythromycin -- during the first trimester of pregnancy were more likely to have major birth defects, especially cardiovascular malformations, compared with those whose mothers took penicillin during early pregnancy, according to a study in The BMJ. Researchers also linked prenatal macrolide exposure at any trimester with increased likelihood of genital malformations, particularly hypospadias, but not with increased neurodevelopmental disorder risk.

2/20/2020

A group of Democratic senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney encouraging the administration to ask for additional funding from Congress to support the government's response to the novel coronavirus. The administration has relied on a $105 million fund for infectious disease outbreaks, and officials recently said they were looking at moving as much as $136 million from other programs for the response.

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The Hill
2/20/2020

Scientists in China analyzed data on 72,314 suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 and found the coronavirus causing the outbreak, which has killed around 2,100 people and infected roughly 75,000, is more contagious than the viruses that cause SARS and MERS. The study, published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology, found COVID-19 has a lower fatality rate but its greater spread has resulted in more deaths than SARS or MERS.

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CNN, Reuters
2/20/2020

The UCare Foundation awarded over $2 million in grants to various organizations in Minnesota to help address health disparities, alleviate social risk factors and boost health care access for underserved residents. Grant recipients include North Memorial Health's Community Paramedic house call program, which reaches patients who have difficulty obtaining traditional care, and the Wilder Foundation's mobile market, meant to improve access to groceries in urban food deserts.

2/20/2020

Oscar Health said it will limit out-of-pocket costs for 100 commonly used drugs to $3 per month for its individual insurance plan members, and the initiative will apply to insulin and other drugs for diabetes, as well as treatments for nausea, migraine, hypertension and other conditions. "Solving this problem is good for business, but making sure people have access to medication at a reasonable price isn't a matter of economics, it's a matter of ethics," according to Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser said.

2/20/2020

A newly unsealed whistleblower lawsuit accuses Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit of offering "free business operations and practice management services" such as assistance in setting up high-volume infusion suites to doctors to prompt prescribing of the company's immunology drugs Remicade and Simponi Aria. A J&J spokesperson said the case has no merit.

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FiercePharma
2/20/2020

L.A. Care Health Plan awarded $1.65 million in grants to 11 health care providers in Los Angeles County, Calif., to expand access to dental care for low-income and other vulnerable populations. One of the grant recipients, Comprehensive Community Health Centers, has integrated dental care with medical care so children can be screened for dental caries when they receive medical checkups.

2/20/2020

Dentist Jeffrey Sulitzer, chief clinical officer of SmileDirectClub, was the subject of a two-year investigation by the Dental Board of California and is at risk of losing his license over allegations of violating state laws, committing fraud and acting with gross negligence toward patients. A company lawyer says the accusations are factually inaccurate and SmileDirectClub is not engaged in the practice of dentistry as the complaint asserts.

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Reuters
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SmileDirectClub
2/20/2020

Former MCNA Dental board member and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is returning to MCNA as vice chairman of the board and chief strategy officer, and he will "play a leading role" in the company's government relations, according to a statement.

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The Hill
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Rick Perry
2/20/2020

Exposure to a high level of fluoride prevents tooth enamel from storing calcium and slows the development of enamel cells, but the same effect was not seen in early-stage kidney cells exposed to high levels of fluoride, according to a study in Science Signaling. Fluoride prevents dental caries by promoting tooth remineralization, and the risk for overexposure in the US is low, says study co-author Rodrigo Lacruz.