Healthcare News January 10, 2012

  • White House cheers news that health law not adding to healthcare costs

    The Obama administration on Monday cheered new evidence that the president’s healthcare reform law isn’t making healthcare more expensive.

    A new report
    from the Medicare actuaries found that healthcare spending grew by a
    near record low of 3.9 percent in 2010, with the health law contributing
    only 0.1 percentage points. The increase in National Health
    Expenditures is similar to the 3.8 percent increase in 2009,
    which saw the lowest rate of growth since the actuaries started keeping
    track in 1960.

    During the 2008 campaign, Obama said U.S. families would save $2,500 on their health insurance premiums thanks to his proposal. Republicans on Capitol Hill and the presidential campaign trail have relentlessly pointed out that that promise isn’t being met – premiums increased 4.4 percent in 2010 – but the White House says its policies won’t all kick in until 2014 and are already making a difference.

    “The report released today found no spike in health care costs due to health reform,” White House Nancy Ann DeParle deputy chief of staff wrote in a blog post. DeParle added that the law’s reforms — including anti-fraud measures, care coordination and disease prevention — are “helping to keep health care cost growth low.”

  • Schumer urges caution with super painkillers

    Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is urging federal regulators to be extra cautious as they decide whether to approve new super-potent painkillers.

    Schumer sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on Sunday, urging the agency to proceed with great caution as drugmakers seek approval for a pure hydrocodone product thats reportedly 10 times as strong as Vicodin, the brand name for a compound of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The warning follows the slaying of a federal agent in a botched drugstore robbery last weekend and comes as deaths from the abuse of prescription opioids now outnumber cocaine and heroin deaths in the United States.

    In the wake of a recent tragedy in Long Island, New York and countless other violent incidents nationally that are related to prescription drug abuse, Schumer wrote in his letter, I have obvious concerns about how this new drug could contribute to the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse and its resultant crime.

    Lawmakers from both parties are seeking to curb prescription drug abuse by requiring extra training for prescribers and better monitoring of prescriptions.

    In his letter, Schumer recommended that the FDA, if it approves the new drug, undertake robust postmarket surveillance, including monitoring of marketing and sales; require drugmakers to make the product as tamper-proof as possible; and look into requiring radio-frequency identification to help law enforcement track the drugs if needed.

  • West Virginia discusses joint insurance exchange with Virgin Islands

    In one the most unusual potential partnerships inspired by President Obama’s healthcare reform law, West Virginia is talking to the Virgin Islands about possibly partnering to create an insurance exchange, Kaiser Health News reports.

    The law requires states to have insurance exchanges in place by 2014 or have the federal government run things. The law allows states to band together, but insurance officials warn that joint exchanges are complicated because states have widely varying insurance laws and carriers.

    West Virginia already processes Medicaid claims for the U.S. territory, KHN reports, making the state a logical partner.

  • West Virginia discusses joint insurance exchange with … Virgin Islands

    In one the most unusual potential partnerships inspired by President Obama’s health reform law, West Virginia is talking to the Virgin Islands about possibly partnering to create an insurance exchange, Kaiser Health News reports.

    The law requires states to have insurance exchanges in place by 2014 or have the federal government run things. The law allows states to band together, but insurance officials warn that joint exchanges are complicated because states have widely varying insurance laws and carriers.

    West Virginia already processes Medicaid claims for the U.S. territory, KHN reports, making the state a logical partner.

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