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  • Tom Boyd

Generics on the rise…

PwC forecasts 8.5 percent increase in healthcare costs for employers in 2012

Healthcare Finance NewsDay, May 18, 2011

 Employers can expect to see an 8.5 percent increase in healthcare costs in 2012, a slight increase from the 8 percent increase expected this year, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute.

Studies: Unintended Pregnancies Cost Taxpayers $11B A Year (excerpt)

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, May 20, 2011

National Journal:  Studies Say Unplanned Pregnancies Cost Taxpayers $11 Billion A Year

Unplanned pregnancies cost states and the federal government more than $11 billion a year, but better family planning programs could cut those costs, researchers reported….  A study by the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute found that two-thirds of births from unintended pregnancies in 2006 were paid for by public insurance plans such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  A separate study by the Brookings Institution came up with similar numbers (Fox, 5/19).

Use Of Generics Rising Quickly (excerpt)

Kaiser Health News, May 20, 2011

National Journal:  Some Patients Dump Lifesaving Cancer Drugs Because Of Cost

New targeted pills can have dramatic effects on cancer, not only driving the disease into remission but also freeing patients from hours of uncomfortable and boring chemotherapy treatments.  Up to 10 percent of patients, however, are not filling their prescriptions for the pills – and cost appears to be a factor, according to a new report.  The higher the co-pay for a cancer pill, the less likely patients were to fill their prescriptions, the team at advisory company Avalere Health found (Fox, 5/19).

Miami Herald Explores Pilot Program For Medical Homes

Kaiser Health News, May 25, 2011

The Miami Herald:  Yes, There’s A Doctor in The House: Medical Home Visits Grow

House calls, once thought to be too time-consuming and not very cost-effective, are making a comeback as health care providers recognize that they’re actually the answer to good care for patients who can’t make it to a doctor’s office.  Medicare-paid house calls have been steadily increasing, according to government figures, and doctors report the same for non-Medicare patients, according to the American Academy for Home Care Physicians. … Now a three-year federal government pilot program called Independence at Home is encouraging doctors to pick up those black medical bags of yore and pay a visit to their sickest patients (Veciana-Suarez, 5/24).

Viewpoints: Sebelius, Orszag On Medicare Costs: Has The Minnesota GOP Lost Its Way? (excerpt)

Kaiser Health News, May 25, 2011

Bloomberg: Sharing Costs is No Way to Fix Medicare

The core problem is that health-care costs are concentrated among expensive treatments for chronic diseases and end-of-life care – and even consumer-directed approaches retain deep third-party insurance against such cases (which is, after all, the whole point of insurance).  Consider that, if you rank Medicare beneficiaries by cost, one-quarter of patients account for more than 85 percent of total costs.  So even if the other 75 percent spend less on doctors and medicine, they can’t take a significant bite out of the total (Peter Orszag, 5/24).

Kaiser Health News: Prevention: The Answer To Curbing Chronically High Health Care Costs (Guest Opinion)

Largely preventable and highly manageable chronic diseases account for 75 cents of every dollar we spend on health care in the U.S.  In contrast, we spend less than 5 cents on prevention … lowering health care costs long-term depends on addressing what drives those costs – diabetes and other chronic diseases.  We have to make the investment in the ounce of prevention to realize the pound of cure (Kenneth Thorpe and Jonathan Lever, 5/24).

Porker of the Month:  HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

Citizens Against Government Waste, May 27, 2011

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has named Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Porker of the Month for the ill-defined process by which HHS grants or denies waivers from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as ObamaCare.  After aggressively supporting PPACA prior to its passage in 2010, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently requested and received a waiver from HHS.  AARP is just one of the 1,372 unions, businesses, and insurers, representing approximately 3.1 million Americans, that have received waivers from PPACA’s onerous regulatory burdens.  Numerous CEOs and business owners have voiced their concerns over PPACA, stating that its provisions and mandates will drastically increase their costs and force them to lay off workers in order to remain solvent.  On May 17, the White House attempted to justify its capricious waiver-granting process, stating that HHS has the power to “issue temporary waivers from the annual limit provision of the law if it would disrupt access to existing insurance arrangements or adversely affect premiums, causing people to lose coverage,” which is precisely what PPACA was intended to prevent.  CAGW President Tom Schatz observed, “It is disgraceful that Secretary Sebelius is arbitrarily choosing when to enforce the mandates of a bill that just one year ago she claimed would be universally embraced by the American public … it has become clear that businesses are wary of what this bill will do to their bottom line, and that it will not control costs or improve healthcare outcomes.”  For the incoherent manner with which her department has doled out regulatory relief to businesses seeking a reprieve from the increasingly sickly PPACA, CAGW names HHS Secretary Sebelius the May 2011 Porker of the Month.

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