HHS Secretary Alex Azar said President Donald Trump was not satisfied with the administration's International Pricing Index proposal and wants it changed so US drug prices would be even lower than those in other countries. Under the proposal, the US would pay less than it currently pays but still more than the average from among developed countries, but Azar said Trump wants the US to get "the best deal among developed countries."
The latest figures from the CMS show that 932,049 shoppers selected Affordable Care Act coverage through the federal exchange in the first nine days of open enrollment, down 20% from 1,176,232 in the first 10 days of last year's enrollment period. Among this year's HealthCare.gov enrollees, 244,928 are new to the exchange.
A CDC report says that more than 2.8 million Americans are sickened by antimicrobial-resistant infections annually, leading to 35,000 deaths, and though the numbers are higher than previously estimated, the number of deaths from superbug infections appears to be declining. The most urgent threats are carbapenem-resistant acinetobacter, drug-resistant Candida auris, Clostridioides difficile, carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae and drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, according to the report.
CVS Health's Aetna, in partnership with Florida company Papa, is launching a program next year designed to combat loneliness and social isolation among Medicare Advantage members by connecting them with college students to help with chores, transportation and companionship. Aetna is also unveiling a "Social Isolation Index," where the insurer will analyze claims and other data to identify seniors at risk of social isolation and enable proactive outreach through the insurer's Resources for Living program.
Highmark Health and Tennessee-based Contessa Health have established a joint venture called Home Recovery Care to offer hospital-level care to eligible patients in their homes. The insurer is now launching the program to certain commercial plan members in Western Pennsylvania, but it intends to expand the service to its Medicare Advantage members and others next year.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blocked an effort by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to pass by unanimous consent legislation co-sponsored with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., that would crack down on efforts by drugmakers to delay competition from generic drugs. Schumer said he did not oppose the bill's substance, but he argued broader action is needed to lower drug prices, instead of a piecemeal approach.
A House health committee moved to advance a bill that would prohibit manufacturers from adding non-tobacco flavors to e-cigarette products, ban online sales of tobacco and e-cigarette products, and raise the minimum age for buying tobacco to 21. The House Energy and Commerce panel has not yet said when it plans to consider the measure.
The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review has developed a framework for assessing short-term or single-use treatments like gene therapies. The new framework will create conservative and optimistic scenarios to help determine whether the costs will be below the threshold of $150,000 for every quality-adjusted life year gained over other available options.
Only certain veterans are eligible for dental care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the VA medical center in Greenville, N.C., is working with the dental school at East Carolina University to provide more veterans with care. If the plan is approved, veterans who are not eligible for VA dental care could get low-priced care at ECU's dental clinic, and veterans who are eligible for VA coverage also could get care at the clinic through the MISSION Act.
Formlabs is launching a business unit to support the company's 3D printers and software for making dentures as well as crowns, bridges, mouth guards, retainers and surgical guides. Formlabs also acquired Spectra Group Photopolymers, which supplies resins for Formlabs printers.
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