Viewpoints: Biden Signs Legislation Lowering Drug Costs; Texas Bills Seek To Restrict Copay Accumulators
Editorial pages weigh in on these public health issues.
Kansas City Star:
Biden Signs Bill Aimed At Lowering Prescription Drug Costs
President Joe Biden Friday signed legislation from Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall that aims to lower prescription drug costs by getting generic drugs to market more quickly. The Food and Drug Administration grants five years of manufacturing exclusivity to pharmaceutical companies for drugs determined to be a new chemical entity. Marshall’s bill will tighten the rules, requiring that drug products must include an active molecule not previously approved by the FDA to qualify for exclusivity. (Bryan Lowry, 4/24)
Curb Copay Accumulators So Kids Like My Son Can Focus On Growing Up
I never imagined my son would be the topic of a speech by our former Congressman Pete Olson on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives or that he would be leading a conversation with Texas lawmakers via Zoom. You see, Hank is just 9 years old. But he has a rare condition — Hemophilia A — and his blood doesn’t clot at all. Hank’s health has put him and our entire family in a position to be a voice for Texas patients. Hank takes a specialty medicine three times a week, which enables him to live a mostly normal life. While contact sports like football are out of the question, he is on a swim team and loves PE like any other fourth grader. (Amanda Wolgamott, 4/26)
It Doesn't Have To Be 'Either/Or' With Value-Based Payment
Population health and fee-for-service are not a rigid dichotomy. Treating them as such misses a major opportunity for healthcare executives looking to advance strategies to protect fee-for-service payments and volumes from eroding while preparing for the eventuality of a greater share of revenue coming from risk. I should know. At my organization, I am the executive who is saying both "I'm your revenue source" and "I'm your future," in reference to a quote from Dr. Mai Pham in the recent Modern Healthcare feature "Population health still at odds with fee-for-service." This is despite my organization having less than 30% of revenue tied to risk. At Memorial Health System, a $1.4 billion net revenue system in central Illinois, we have tried to steer our strategy and approach away from "either/or" thinking and toward a "both/and" focus when it comes to investing in infrastructure for our risk-based future while protecting current revenue drivers. The key has been to look at the various payment models that we participate in on a gradient scale of both value and volume incentives while building common competencies and infrastructure that can be tailored to suit both. (Jameson M. Roszhart, 4/26)
Our Health System Is Failing Patients With Limited English
No matter how conscientiously the post-operation discharge instructions were crafted, I worried how my Spanish-speaking patient would refer to the “warning signs”—written in English—if questions arose at home. And I was right to worry: her arrival eight days later to the emergency department with a serious but preventable infection demonstrated the challenges that over 25 million American residents face whenever they interact with our English-centered health system. While this system aims to provide optimal care for all its patients, it often falls short for non-English speakers. Language discordance—the situation when providers and patients speak different languages—is all too common throughout the United States. Limited English proficiency impacts the patient-physician-system interaction by undermining communication, trust and health literacy. This miscommunication leads to suboptimal care, decreased understanding of diseases and treatments, difficulties in shared decision-making and lower satisfaction with care. Patient-provider language discordance is associated with worse chronic disease management, longer hospital stays and increased hospital readmission rates. (Benjamin Allar and Gezzer Ortega, 4/24)
What's Next For Diagnostic Labs, A 'Bright Spot" During Covid-19?
As U.S. diagnostic labs began confronting the Covid-19 pandemic in early March 2020, they faced monumental challenges to quickly build laboratory capacity. That included ramping up staffing and finding sources for the equipment and supplies needed to handle an unpredictable surge in the volume of Covid-19 testing. Despite the vital role that labs play in providing diagnostic information, they have been running lean shops for years with little ability to increase their daily testing capacity. This behavior was borne out of a need for financial stability, largely because commercial and federal insurers like Medicare and Medicaid have been paying labs less and less for the same testing since well before the pandemic. ( Lâle White, 4/26)
The Baltimore Sun:
Maternal And Child Health Forms The Foundation For Healthy And Thriving Lives
The month of April is recognized as National Minority Health Month — a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to disproportionately affect communities of color, we see worsening family stress, poverty, child hunger, and child and adolescent mental health in Maryland and across the globe. This April, amplifying and addressing the need for health equity has never been more critical — and provides an important opportunity to uplift the important steps we are taking now in the right direction. A critical way to advance health equity and improve the overall and long-term health of our state is to invest early in the lives of Marylanders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maryland’s maternal mortality rate from 2013 to 2017 (24.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) ranked 22nd among all states. For infant and neonatal mortality, Maryland ranks 35th and 39th among the states, respectively. (Brooke Lierman and Tina Cheng, 4/26)
San Diego Union-Tribune:
Mental Health And Climate Change Are Intertwined. Here's How.
Climate change, refugees and mental health: Why should we care? Climate change is scientifically documented beyond reasonable doubt, is getting worse, and is a threat to our existence as humans as well as our planet Earth. The rising sea level, drought or extreme weather events will dramatically increase in the coming decades, leading to uprooting of millions of people across the world, in search of alternative lands and sources of income. They are known as environmental refugees. (Wael Al-Delaimy, 4/23)