Why a Hospital Might Shun a Black Patient

“because a vast majority of programs that tie payment to cost and quality goals aren’t focused on disadvantaged populations, they create incentives for hospitals to avoid patients from these groups. For example, in the 1990s, the New York State Department of Health began grading surgeons who performed coronary bypass surgery and making their report cards available to the general public. The aim was to make outcomes more transparent and to help surgeons improve. But to this day, the initiative makes it harder for Black patients to get surgery. Why? Because statistically, outcomes are generally worse for Black patients because of … Read More

A Unique Deal in Dutch Health Care: Private Insurers and Providers Find Common Ground to Address Covid-19 Effects

“The Covid-19 pandemic has added another twist in the U.S. health-care saga. While some providers initially struggled financially as elective and outpatient care were cancelled or deferred, private health insurers saw record profits in the second quarter. In fact, major insurance companies such as UnitedHealthcare, Anthem, and Humana doubled their profit margins, pushing Democrats to launch an investigation into insurers’ practices. During a time when public confidence in political and corporate institutions is low, the paradox of soaring insurers’ profits and unprecedented providers’ losses is painful, potentially detrimental, and likely unnecessary. [..] Under Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations, insurers’ excess … Read More

Oncology’s “Hockey Stick” Moment for the Cost of Cancer Drugs—The Climate Is About to Change

“During the active phase of treatment for a patient with cancer in Medicare’s Oncology Care Model, antineoplastic drug costs represented more than 50% of the total cost of care in 2018 and are expected to contribute nearly 70% of the total cost of active care by 2025 and more than 80% by 2030, 10 years from now. [..] Any solution that relies solely on one of the actors in the drug distribution and delivery system is doomed to failure because no one wants to be the “bad guy.” What is needed is a convener with power (likely the US federal … Read More

What drives health spending in the U.S. compared to other countries

“The United States spends significantly more on healthcare than comparable countries, and yet has worse health outcomes. Much of the national conversation has focused on spending on prescription drugs and administrative costs as the primary drivers of health spending in the U.S. [..] While it is true that many brand-name prescription drugs are priced higher in the U.S. than in peer countries, health spending data indicates that other spending categories – particularly hospital and physician payments – are greater drivers of health spending. [..] In 2018, the U.S. spent nearly twice as much per capita on health as comparable countries. … Read More

How to Stop the Superbugs

“Superbugs are not a unique problem to COVID-19, of course; they already kill 35,000 Americans every year. If bacteria continue evolving to outwit antibiotics, however, the World Health Organization estimates they will become the leading global cause of death by 2050. [..] The ability of biotech upstarts to earn revenue clashes with the basics of evolutionary biology. Superbugs develop as bacteria accumulate mutations over time, forming strains that elegantly evade our existing antibiotic arsenal. The more consistently a bug goes up against one of our trusted antibiotics, the more likely it is to evolve to escape it. Accordingly, to prevent … Read More

Sophisticated Purchasing of Pharmaceuticals: Learning From Other Countries

“The authors [Emanuel EJ et al. in a JAMA Internal Medicine Special Communication also published today] suggest that the United States should learn from its peers, from other developed nations that have created publicly accountable institutions for health technology assessment and drug price determination and that have reaped a return in the form of prices that are lower and better aligned with clinical value than drug prices in the United States. [..] Payers in the United States (governmental programs, self-insured employers, insurers, pharmacy benefit managers) conduct their own implicit health technology assessments but usually without the transparency or evidence focus … Read More

What Trump and Biden Should Debate at the Cleveland Clinic: Why the Hospital’s Private Police Mostly Arrest Black People

“Just as the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted racial inequities in law enforcement, so the lopsided toll of Black victims in the pandemic has revealed them in health care. Hospital policing is where these two disparities collide. Cleveland’s prestigious hospitals, which mainly employ and treat whites, are surrounded by low-income Black neighborhoods with some of the worst health outcomes in Ohio, including lower life expectancy and high rates of asthma, diabetes and infant mortality. Hospitals have replaced the factories and plants of a faded industrial era as the most important economic engine in northeast Ohio. The clinic [Cleveland Clinic] … Read More

Republicans blasted Obama’s use of an obscure Medicare law. Now Trump’s using it on $200 drug coupons — and the GOP is silent

“Trump’s plan is to ship seniors $200 prescription drug coupons in the coming weeks, a massive, $6.6 billion initiative that he announced less than six weeks before Election Day. He is relying on the same authority that Obama used in 2010 to bolster a more expensive, albeit less outwardly political, plan to direct bonus payments to high-performing insurance companies ahead of his own reelection campaign. [..] Both the Obama and Trump controversies surround so-called demonstration authority, a power granted to the White House to test whether changes to Medicare to make the program run smoother or save money. Obama used … Read More