GOP health care legislation clears House committee | Report: Stem-cell injections result in permanent eye damage in 3 women | ACOs reduced Medicare spending for Part D subscribers
March 17, 2017
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GOP health care legislation clears House committee
The proposed American Health Care Act cleared the House Budget Committee on Thursday in a 19-17 vote, advancing it to the House Rules Committee, the last stop before it moves to the full House. As divisions within the Republican party continue, party leaders are looking to President Donald Trump, who said he expects the legislation to be modified, to raise support.
The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)/The Associated Press (3/16),  The Hill (3/16) 
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Report: Stem-cell injections result in permanent eye damage in 3 women
Three women who paid $5,000 each for stem-cell injections to treat macular degeneration suffered permanent eye damage, with one woman becoming completely blind, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine. The unproven treatment was undertaken at a private clinic in Florida, where technicians injected the women's eyes with stem cells extracted from their own belly fat.
The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (3/15) 
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Providers & Suppliers
ACOs reduced Medicare spending for Part D subscribers
Medicare spending on Part D subscribers aligned with an accountable care organization in 2012 was $345 lower per patient than on Part D subscribers not aligned with an ACO, according to an analysis published in Medical Care. ACOs saved Medicare $966 per patient for Part D subscribers with six or more chronic conditions, study leader Yuting Zhang said.
The Business Journals (tiered subscription model)/Pittsburgh (3/13) 
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Orthopedic surgeons eye virtual PT as bundled care models grow
Virtual physical therapy will gain prominence as health care providers participate in the CMS Comprehensive Care of Joint Replacement and other bundled payment models for orthopedic care, speakers at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons said. Physical therapy may be profitable under a fee-for-service model, but at least one large orthopedic practice found physical therapy was costly under a bundled care model, fueling interest in virtual therapy. (3/14) 
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Medical Update
Health consortium warns of public health threats from climate change
Health consortium warns on public health threats from climate change
(David Mcnew/Getty Images)
Climate change has exacerbated heart and lung diseases tied to wildfires and air pollution, infectious diseases such as the Zika virus and Lyme disease, heat-related health risks, and physical and mental health problems associated with extreme weather conditions, according to a report by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics and 10 other health organizations. The report also showed that children, pregnant women, the elderly and student athletes are among the most vulnerable to climate change health risks.
CBS News (3/15),  USA Today (3/15),  HealthDay News (3/15) 
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Emerging Trends
Ore. sets example for end-of-life care
Medicare patients living in Oregon were more likely to have their end-of-life care preferences followed, including choices for dying at home, limiting ICU admission and enrolling in hospice care, compared with patients living in neighboring Washington state or the rest of the US, a study found. Researchers wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine that while there is increased emphasis on advance directives nationwide, patient wishes must be supported by health systems and state regulations.
Kaiser Health News (3/15) 
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Study: Letting patients add to EHRs improves patient-clinician communication
According to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine, 79% of patients and 74% of clinicians said allowing patients to type agendas into the EHR visit note improved communication between patients and clinicians. Researchers used a cohort of 100 patients and clinicians at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and found the practice may also lead to health care improvement because it allows patients to voice their concerns and clinicians to understand patient priorities.
Healthcare Informatics online (3/15) 
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Health Insurance Plan Company News
Solutions Provider News
Pharma News
PTC Therapeutics to buy Marathon's $89,000 DMD drug
PTC Therapeutics announced Thursday it intends to purchase Marathon Pharmaceuticals' Emflaza, a controversial FDA-approved orphan drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy priced at $89,000 per year, for $140 million in a cash and stock deal. PTC CEO Stuart Peltz declined to give information about how much the price of the drug will change, but said a change "needs to be made."
Kaiser Health News (3/16) 
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Lawmakers ask FDA to explain why Marathon's DMD drug was approved
Lawmakers ask FDA to explain why Marathon's $89,000 DMD drug was approved
(Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT., and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., have sent a letter to the FDA questioning its approval of Marathon Pharmaceuticals' Emflaza, or deflazacort, which was priced at $89,000 annually by the company despite the drug's accessibility through importation at a much lower price. The lawmakers also asked about the integrity of 20-year-old efficacy clinical data used to support its application to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which was the basis of the FDA approval.
BioCentury (3/15) 
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Policy Watch
Trump budget cuts target medical, scientific research funding
President Donald Trump's budget blueprint includes deep and wide-ranging cuts in government-backed medical and scientific research. For example, the National Institutes of Health budget could be cut by almost $6 billion, and other agencies and projects, such as the Chemical Safety Board and an Environmental Protection Agency plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, would be eliminated outright.
The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (3/16) 
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