Trump administration finalizes rule expanding use of HRAs | House amends spending bill, possibly paving way for national patient ID | Gestational diabetes telehealth program tied to improved monitoring
June 14, 2019
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Trump administration finalizes rule expanding use of HRAs
The Trump administration issued a final rule allowing employees to use tax-free health reimbursement arrangements to purchase health insurance coverage in the individual market with certain limitations starting next year. The rule, issued Thursday, will also permit employers that offer health insurance coverage to provide a special HRA funded at up to $1,800 per year to reimburse employees for short-term health plans, which do not comply with the Affordable Care Act.
The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (6/13),  The Hill (6/13) 
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House amends spending bill, possibly paving way for national patient ID
The House on Wednesday amended a health care spending bill to remove a 23-year ban on using federal funding to create a national patient identifier. The move was backed by AHIP and other health care stakeholders in a letter to House lawmakers sent earlier this week urging them to pass the amendment introduced by Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill.
Becker's Health IT & CIO Report (6/13),  Bloomberg Law (subscription required) (6/13) 
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Is telehealth the future of mental health care?
As the relationship between technology and healthcare continues to evolve, there is one area that seems to be experiencing more disruption than ever: mental health. In 2018, a staggering 43.8 million Americans experienced mental illness, but well over half did not seek treatment. Could telehealth change that? Read more.
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Providers & Suppliers
Gestational diabetes telehealth program tied to improved monitoring
A telehealth education and psychosocial support program developed for women with gestational diabetes was associated with improved blood glucose monitoring and appointment attendance, compared with usual care, researchers reported at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting. Both groups saw increased knowledge about gestational diabetes and there were no reported differences in delivery data and other clinical outcomes.
Healio (free registration)/Endocrine Today (6/12) 
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Are you attending AHIP Insitute?
Join the SmartBrief healthcare team for free tacos and drinks on June 20th after the exhibit hall closes at Saint Anejo Cantina located at 1120 McGavock St. We can't wait to see you in Nashville! Click here to RSVP.
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Medical Update
Suicide, substance use-related deaths increase among young adults
The rate of suicide among adults ages 18 to 34 rose by 35% between 2007 and 2017, while drug-related deaths increased by 108% and alcohol-related deaths rose by 69%, according to a report from the Trust for America's Health and the Well Being Trust. "The huge increase in the numbers of millennials being lost to substance misuse and suicide is a national tragedy," said John Auerbach, CEO of Trust for America's Health.
Medscape (free registration) (6/13) 
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Antidepressants may raise dementia risk in older adults
Older adults who took antidepressants had a threefold increased likelihood of developing dementia, compared with those who don't take them, according to a study in The American Journal of Psychiatry. The findings were based on data involving 71,515 Israeli adults ages 60 and older followed between 2013 and 2017.
The Times of Israel (6/14) 
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Emerging Trends
CDC examines trends in meeting physical activity guidelines
Researchers evaluated 2008 to 2017 data from the National Health Interview Survey and found that the prevalence of meeting physical activity guidelines rose from 19.4% to 25.3% among adults in urban areas and from 13.3% to 19.6% among those in rural areas. The findings in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed a higher prevalence among urban residents in all demographic regions and subgroups from 2016 to 2017 compared with 2008 to 2009.
Physician's Briefing/HealthDay News (6/13) 
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“Medicare Advantage-in-a-Box”
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Health Insurance Provider Company News
Impacting at Point-of-Care Webinar 6/20 @1:30 pm EDT
See the workflows and analytics of a point-of-care platform for providers in all delivery settings. Evoke360's SmartVisit redesigns care delivery, assisting in improving HEDIS® scores and gap closure, Star Ratings, risk adjustment accuracy, and CDI, as well as lowering medical costs. Register here.
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Solutions Provider News
Pharma News
House Speaker agrees to change drug pricing proposal
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she has heard the complaints of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and will make changes to her drug pricing plan, which includes requiring Medicare to negotiate prices on a minimum of 25 drugs annually. Pelosi said she would increase the number of drugs up for negotiation to around 250, according to lawmakers who met with the Speaker.
The Hill (6/12) 
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Grassley: Drugmakers should contribute to Medicare costs
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that drugmakers should share Medicare costs. "We want to take away that [catastrophic Medicare coverage] by having the insurance companies and the pharmaceuticals pay a greater part of the cost, put a cap on what out of pocket expenses would be and save the taxpayers' money in the process," said Grassley.
FDAnews (6/13) 
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Amgen's Herceptin biosimilar approved by FDA
Amgen's Kanjinti, or trastuzumab-anns, a biosimilar version of Roche's Herceptin, or trastuzumab, has been approved by the FDA. The drug is indicated for the treatment of patients with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer and HER2-overexpressing metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma.
OncLive (free registration) (6/13),  Seeking Alpha (6/13) 
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Policy Watch
CMS OKs Wash. plan to use subscription model for hepatitis C drugs
The CMS approved Washington's plan to implement a subscription model with makers of expensive hepatitis C drugs for its Medicaid program. Under the model, the state would pay a fixed annual amount to a drugmaker in exchange for unlimited supply of hepatitis C medications
Modern Healthcare (tiered subscription model) (6/13),  Health Payer Intelligence (6/13) 
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Proposal would require insurers to cover OTC birth control
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., introduced legislation that would require health insurance providers to pay for FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control with no cost-sharing.
National Review (6/13) 
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AHIP News
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Benefit from back-office efficiencies
For plans seeking to contain administrative costs, outsourcing can be a smart solution. TPA Direct members are experts in delivering back-office efficiencies. AmeriHealth Administrators, a member of TPA Direct, provides health plans with customized health benefits, administration services and other outsourcing services.
Smarter care tools help patients take charge of chronic illnesses
Medication management programs offer promise in improving patient health, patient safety, and affordability. We can see this in action with the HealthPartners and Fairview Health collaboration. Read on to learn how they are driving better patient health and lower costs for people who suffer with chronic conditions.
Webinar: Opioid abuse prediction -- register today
Join us on Wednesday, June 26, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET for "Opioid Abuse Prediction: Using Socio-Demographics to Generate Insights" as IBM Watson Health presents case studies to better understand appropriateness of opioid prescribing practices, socio-demographic predictors for high utilization & substance abuse, and care management intervention opportunities. Uncover ways to better treat pain management patients.
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[We] thought that once we'd climbed the mountain, it was unlikely anyone would ever make another attempt.
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