The Daily Scan

October 17, 2018

Last Updated: 1:00 PM EST

Medicaid

  • In a report released Monday morning, the Arkansas Department of Human Services said it had terminated the health insurance of another 4,109 Medicaid recipients due to Governor Hutchinson's work requirement for certain beneficiaries of Arkansas Works, the state's Medicaid expansion program for low-income adults. Those people are now barred from Arkansas Works until January 1. That's in addition to the 4,353 beneficiaries trimmed from (and subsequently locked out of) the Arkansas Works program in September, meaning the work requirement has cut insurance for about 8,500 Arkansans thus far. Back in June, when the requirement was put into place for the first subset of beneficiaries, DHS estimated that about 69,000 people eventually would be required to report their work activity hours. The mandate has now eliminated over 12% of that initial number. (ArkansasTimes.com: Article, Report)

Litigation

  • Yesterday, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit against the nation’s three major manufacturers of insulin used to treat diabetes after prices more than doubled in recent years. This lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and seeks injunctive and monetary relief for Minnesota residents who paid out-of-pocket for their insulin. The lawsuit alleges that the drug companies fraudulently set an artificially high "list" price for their insulin products but then negotiated a lower actual price by paying rebates to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). A press release explains: "The lawsuit alleges that the list prices the drug companies set are so far from their net prices that they are not an accurate approximation of the true cost of insulin and are deceptive and misleading. Underinsured and uninsured patients who purchase insulin at a pharmacy are unaware of the product’s net price and do not benefit from the rebates or discounts negotiated by PBMs, but instead make payments based on the deceptive list price published by the manufacturers. There are currently nearly 350,000 Minnesotans without health coverage." Attorney General Swanson commented: “Insulin is a life-or-death drug for people with diabetes. Many people can’t afford the price hikes but can’t afford to stop taking the medication either.” (AG.State.MN.us)

Regulation

  • Yesterday, the CDC held a telebriefing on the Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) outbreak in the U.S. Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, led the conversation. Messonnier said: “AFM is a rare, but serious condition that affects the nervous system. It specifically affects the area of spinal cord called gray matter and causes muscles and reflexes to become week. We know this can be frightening for parents. I know many parents want to know what the signs and symptoms are that they should be looking for in their child. I encourage parents to seek medical care right away if you or your child develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs. CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014 when we first saw an increase in cases. The number of cases reported in this time period in 2018 is similar to what was reported in the fall of 2014 and 2016. Since 2014, most of the AFM cases have been among children. In 2018 so far, CDC has received reports of 127 patients under investigation or PUIs; 62 cases have been confirmed as AFM (in 22 states). CDC and state and local health departments are still investigating some of these PUIs. Of the confirmed cases, the average age is about 4 years old.” (CDC.gov)

Technology

  • The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have updated the popular Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tool to make it easier to use and apply more broadly to the risks to health information. The tool is designed for use by small to medium sized health care practices – those with one to 10 health care providers – covered entities, and business associates to help them identify risks and vulnerabilities to ePHI. The updated tool provides enhanced functionality to document how such organizations can implement or plan to implement appropriate security measures to protect ePHI. ONC and OCR conducted comprehensive usability testing of the SRA tool (version 2.0) with health care practice managers. Analysis of the findings across the user base informed the development of the content and the requirements for the SRA Tool 3.0. ONC and OCR then conducted testing of the SRA tool 3.0 to compare the user experience in completing the same tasks presented in the first round of testing. (HHS.gov)

 

 

 

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