News for Insurers
Top stories summarized by our editors
6/26/2019

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 36% of hospitals in Virginia, mostly nonprofits, sued patients for unpaid medical bills and garnished their wages in 2017, and nonprofit Mary Washington Healthcare files so many lawsuits that the Fredericksburg General District Court sets aside one morning per month to consider the hospital's cases. Researchers found that the average amount garnished totals $2,783.15, and law professor Erin Fuse Brown said pursuing such cases "doesn't seem to be worth the effort, and it's so ruinous to the patient."

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National Public Radio
6/26/2019

An ordinance banning the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products without premarket FDA review, but not e-cigarette use among people ages 21 and older, in San Francisco has been approved by the city's board of supervisors and now awaits the signature of Mayor London Breed. The measure is an effective ban on any sales, since no e-tobacco products have undergone premarket review.

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CNN
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FDA
6/26/2019

Draft recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force advise primary care physicians to use interventions such as brief counseling or education aimed at preventing school-aged children and adolescents from starting to use tobacco products, but it found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against primary care-appropriate tools for tobacco use cessation among youths. The draft will remain open for public comment through July 22.

6/26/2019

A recent poll found 21.4% of Democratic voters said health care is their top issue -- beating the economy, social security, women's issues and security -- and the issue is likely to take center stage ahead of this week's Democratic debates. Candidates are likely to debate proposals for the expansion of Medicare as well as protection of entitlement programs, but a large field and a reluctance to offer specifics may mean few details on hopefuls' positions will emerge.

6/26/2019

AHIP was joined by hospital groups in expressing concerns that an executive order calling for the disclosure of negotiated rates on common tests and services will only cause health care prices to increase. AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles said insurers already offer tools designed to help patients know their health care costs, and consumers "also have access to regular reports on where they are in meeting their deductibles and limits on out of pocket costs."

6/26/2019

Adults who participated in a walking program that used tracking pedometers had fewer cardiovascular events and a lower risk of fracture, compared with control groups, according to a study in PLOS Medicine. Data showed people in the walking program had sustained increases in physical activity of about 30 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous activity after four years.

6/26/2019

A report from Healthy School Food Maryland graded school districts in the state on the healthfulness of their student meals. Anne Arundel County Public Schools received an A grade overall, getting good scores in 13 categories, such as reducing sugar in meals and adding fruits and vegetables.

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WBAL-TV (Baltimore)
6/26/2019

Senate Finance Committee leaders are discussing ideas for reining in Medicare prescription drug spending, including requiring manufacturers to pay back rebates if price increases exceed the rate of inflation and requiring them to give money back to the program if they launch a new product at a high list price.

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The Hill
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Senate Finance Committee, Senate
6/26/2019

New Jersey paramedics can give patients buprenorphine after administering the overdose reversal drug naloxone, according to the state's health commissioner, once authorized by a qualified supervising physician. The state is the first to allow paramedics to give patients buprenorphine, which eases opioid withdrawal symptoms and may facilitate recovery, but experts say the change raises questions about patient consent.

6/26/2019

Kenneth Sun, a doctor from Easton, Pa., and former owner of pain management practice Progressive Pain Solutions, was indicted on several charges including receiving health care kickbacks for his alleged involvement in a pharmaceutical kickback and Medicare fraud scheme. According to the indictment, Sun received over $140,000 in bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing the drugmaker's fentanyl-based painkiller Subsys, which resulted in over $847,000 worth of improper payments from Medicare for the medically unnecessary prescriptions.