Policy

Opioid-related deaths, particularly those associated with synthetic opioids, have impacted the eastern states, according to new research published in JAMA Network Open. Washington D.C. had the highest increase in death rates across the U.S.—more than tripling every year since 2013.

A group of hospital associations sent a letter to Congress outlining their joint position to utilize a new set of principles to protect patients from surprise billing.

CMS has created a podcast called “CMS: Beyond the Policy” to inform industry stakeholders about changes and updates to its policies and programs, the agency announced. 

CMS has proposed covering a new form of cancer therapy, CAR T-cell therapy, under Medicare. The proposal would create a uniform standard of covering the treatment, which uses a patient’s own immune system to fight the disease.

HHS is pushing new interoperability rules to encourage better care coordination and empower patients to become stronger partners in their care through access to their digital health records––and the industry seems to be on board.

HHS and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) introduced a new payment model for emergency ambulance services that would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive care on-the-scene or at lower acuity sites, such as urgent care clinics.

Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC) with higher levels of employee organizational satisfaction also tend to have higher safety scores and patient satisfaction ratings, according to new research published in the American Journal of Medicine.

The Trump administration’s recent proposal to eliminate rebates between drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) is not a big surprise to those who have been paying attention to the rhetoric of CMS and HHS officials, but the impact of swapping rebates for direct discounts is still a big question.

The FDA is cracking down on the supplement industry, after Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, asked the makers of 12 different supplements to cease claiming their products cure various diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer, among others. Additionally, Gottlieb announced a new plan for policy advancements in an effort to modernize dietary supplement regulation and oversight.

HHS is addressing one of the biggest issues in healthcare: interoperability. The agency, through CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), has proposed new rules to support electronic health record (EHR) interoperability.

As the rising drug price issue has taken hold of the healthcare debate in the U.S., Democrats in Congress have introduced a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. 

President Trump’s second annual State of the Union speech was held on Feb. 5, during which the president touched on many subjects, including several healthcare goals and changes.