Healthcare News March 19, 2013

  • Panel urges caution in testing kids’ anthrax vaccines

    A presidential advisory panel released ethical standards Tuesday to govern controversial medical tests on children, a move that will allow some research to move forward.

    The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues was asked to report on how researchers could ethically test a pediatric anthrax vaccine on kids who, not being sick from anthrax, would not stand to benefit from the studies.

    The panel responded with a set of guidelines to help scientists navigate the risks involved involved in pediatric medical research, particularly studies that test countermeasures designed for epidemics or bioterrorist attacks. 

  • Few confident in value of future Medicare benefits, survey finds

    Only six percent of U.S. workers are very confident that future Medicare benefits will be equal in value to what seniors receive today, according to a new survey.

    The annual “Retirement Confidence Survey” from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) revealed growing anxiety among workers about their ability to retire in good financial stead.

    The number of people who say they will work past 65 is up to 36 percent, more than tripling since the early 1990s, EBRI reported. 

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Medicare Advantage lobbying heats up

    The insurance industry launched another salvo Monday in its aggressive lobbying campaign to beat back proposed Medicare Advantage cuts. America’s Health Insurance Plans launched a second TV ad focusing on the cuts, this time featuring seniors talking into the camera about their reliance on the plans.

    The latest ad comes just two weeks before the Medicare agency will announce final payment rates for Medicare Advantage plans, after proposing a 2.2 percent cut last month. The problem, according to industry, isn’t just the 2 percent reduction, but that it would come on top of bigger cuts included in the Affordable Care Act.

    Also on Monday, AHIP garnered more support from Capitol Hill in its fight against the cuts. The group released a letter from 22 senators, including both Republicans and Democrats, urging the Medicare agency to revisit its proposal. More than 100 lawmakers have already signed similar letters.

    Healthwatch has more details on the latest TV ads.

    SCOTUS tackles drug lawsuits: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday morning in a case that asks whether people have the right to sue over certain side effects from prescription drugs. The justices will consider whether patients harmed by a generic drug have the right to sue on the grounds that the product was so dangerous it never should have been marketed. Those suits are rare, but trial lawyers say they’re the last line of defense against dangerous drugs. 

  • New regulations limit waiting periods for employer health plans

    Employers can’t make workers wait more than 90 days to use their healthcare coverage, the Obama administration said in new regulations Monday.

    The proposed rules implement part of the Affordable Care Act that prohibit waiting periods longer than 90 days before health coverage kicks in.

    Some employer-based healthcare plans come with a waiting period between the time employees enroll in the plan and when the employees — or their family members — can actually start using the plan’s benefits.

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