News for Insurers
Top stories summarized by our editors
12/14/2018

Regulators in California and New York have approved Cigna's proposed $67 billion acquisition of pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts, putting the companies one step closer to finalizing the deal by the end of this year. "We continue to work with regulators in New Jersey, the one outstanding state where approval is required, and continue to expect that the transaction will close by the end of 2018, subject to the satisfaction of all closing conditions," the companies said in a regulatory filing.

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Health Exec
12/14/2018

Legislation that would allow HHS to stop unjustifiable drug price hikes has been introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and three other Senate Democrats. The CURE High Drug Prices Act will permit HHS to force pharmaceutical firms to pay back unjustifiable increases in drug prices to payers and other consumers if the agency deems a price hike is excessive or to bring back the drug's old price for a certain period under qualified or federal health plans.

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BioCentury
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HHS, Senate, Sen. Richard Blumenthal
12/14/2018

A federal appeals court has upheld a preliminary injunction that will allow New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and California to disregard a Trump administration rule meant to scale back the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate by permitting employers to stop covering contraceptives on moral and religious grounds. The rule is scheduled to take effect in other parts of the country next year.

12/14/2018

A report published in The Lancet Public Health showed the average US hospital cost for outpatient visits is nearly $500, while average inpatient stay costs totaled more than $22,000. Inpatient spending was substantially higher than totals in other countries the researchers examined, the study found.

12/14/2018

Researchers reviewed 135 studies and found a 19% and 22% higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, respectively, among adults who had a birth weight of more than 4.5 kg, compared with those whose birth weights were between 4 kg and 4.5 kg. The findings in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that birth weight had a J-shaped association with type 2 diabetes and CVD, with the link more pronounced in women, and was inversely associated with hypertension.

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CVD
12/14/2018

Researchers found that the number of individuals with dementia around the world rose from 20.2 million in 1990 to 43.8 million in 2016, and the number of dementia-related deaths jumped 148% during the same period. The findings in The Lancet Neurology, based on 2016 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study data, also showed that smoking, increased sugar-sweetened drink consumption, and elevated body mass index and fasting blood glucose increased the odds of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

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Alzheimer's disease
12/14/2018

Trends and challenges for employee wellness programs in 2019 include legal issues with providing incentives, increased data privacy concerns, and greater emphasis on self-care and personalization, writes TotalWellness founder Alan Kohll. Financial wellness program access will increase, Kohll says, and more companies will look at adding worksite clinics.

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Forbes
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Alan Kohll, TotalWellness
12/14/2018

Patients with chronic heart failure did better on exercise tests after participating in a home-based aerobic exercise training program, researchers reported in JACC: Heart Failure. Patients in the highest and middle physical activity tiers had lower risks of cardiovascular death and hospitalizations, compared with those in the lowest activity tier.

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chronic heart failure
12/14/2018

Many of the 2.5 million infant deaths among babies born prematurely or who became ill in 2017 were preventable, and while global neonatal mortality rates have declined from 31 per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 18 in 2017, more work should be done to achieve the target neonatal mortality rate of 12 per 1,000 live births or less by 2030, according to a report from a global coalition including the World Health Organization and UNICEF. The report also showed that exclusive breastfeeding, access to well-equipped health facilities with skilled staff and other simple initiatives could curb nearly 68% of newborn deaths by 2030.

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World Health Organization
12/14/2018

The FDA withdrew a proposed rule that would have required generic-drug makers to monitor patient safety and update labels with new safety data regardless of updates to the reference product's label. Some stakeholders had expressed concern that the rule could have undermined public confidence in generics and led to higher prices and confusion among patients and physicians.

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Regulatory Focus
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FDA