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Healthcare Roundup: Healthcare Cost Reduction Program in CO, $13.8B Opioid Settlement & More

November 04, 2022 (3 min read)

CO Seeks to Reduce Healthcare Costs through Consumer Incentives

Colorado has launched an initiative enabling employers in the state to band together to negotiate lower prices for health care. The program also allows employees that choose lower-cost and higher-quality providers to receive a portion of the savings, ranging from around $50 for a mammogram to thousands of dollars for a surgical procedure.

A dozen employers, including the state government, have signed on to the program, called the Colorado Purchasing Alliance. It is only available to employees who choose the state’s self-funded health plan administered through Cigna.

Of the roughly 20,000 state employees and family members on the Cigna plan, over 1,200 used an online tool known as the Healthcare Bluebook, which ranks healthcare providers by cost and quality, in the first six weeks they had access to it. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

Major Pharmacy Retailers Agree to $13.8B Opioid Settlement

CVS Health Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Walmart Inc. have reached a tentative agreement to pay a combined $13.8 billion to settle thousands of state and local government lawsuits alleging the pharmacy chains mishandled opioid painkillers. Under the proposed settlement CVS would pay $5 billion over 10 years, Walgreens would pay $5.7 billion over 15 years and Walmart would pay $3.1 billion, largely up front. (INSURANCE JOURNAL)

New NJ Law Protects Healthcare Employees in Changes of Workplace Control

A New Jersey law, enacted in August (SB 315) and taking effect on Nov. 16, will require a contract or agreement preserving the wages, benefits and employment status of eligible workers for any healthcare facility change of control through sale or other transfer of assets. The law applies to all hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities licensed by the state. (SHRM)

Surge in Child Illness Causing Shortage of Amoxicillin

Respiratory illnesses, including respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, that are quickly spreading among children nationwide are causing a shortage of amoxicillin, one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics. The drug is used to treat serious bacterial infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis. (WASHINGTON POST, NBC NEWS)

TX Pediatric Hospitals Short on Beds

Pediatric hospital beds across the state of Texas are in short supply, according to hospital leaders and medical experts. Dr. Gerald Stagg, a pediatrician based in Mount Pleasant, said cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and an early flu season have placed more pressure on hospital systems already stretched by COVID-19 and other viruses. (TEXAS TRIBUNE)

Increase in Pharmacist Prescribing Power Boosts PrEP Use

Prescription fills for preexposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, drugs, including birth control, naloxone and HIV therapies, increased by 24 percent in one year and 110 percent in two years in states that passed laws expanding pharmacist prescribing power to include such drugs, according to a study by GoodRX. PrEP fills stayed virtually flat in states that didn’t pass such laws. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

Lowest Federal Hospital Fines in Decade for Poor Readmission Rates

Fines levied by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on hospitals in fiscal year 2023 for poor readmission rates will be the lowest they’ve been since 2014. When calculating those penalties CMS took into account the challenges hospitals faced in the COVID-19 pandemic by not including hospital readmissions from the first half of 2020 or those for patients readmitted with pneumonia, which may have been caused by COVID. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

Abortions Plummet in TX

The number of abortions performed in Texas each month dropped from a few thousand to fewer than 10 after the state implemented a near-total abortion ban this summer. The state accounted for over half of the total decline in abortions nationwide following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. (TEXAS TRIBUNE)

AK Gets OK for Rural Healthcare Initiative

The Biden administration has given the go-ahead for Arkansas to expand its Medicaid program to implement a rural healthcare initiative directed at certain at-risk groups. The initiative will focus on improving maternal care, mental health care and addiction services, as well as on providing additional support for those coming out of foster care and the justice system and for young adult veterans at risk of homelessness or addiction, or requiring mental health care. (ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE)

Healthcare Federal Lobbying Outlay Up 70 Percent From 2000

The amount of money the healthcare industry spent lobbying the federal government increased over 70 percent between 2000 and 2020, according to a study by Cornell Medical College and the University of Pennsylvania published in JAMA Health Forum. Spending grew more in the 2000s than in the 2010s “in part because of lobbying efforts targeting the Affordable Care Act,” the researchers said. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE) 

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK


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