News & Commentary
The shift to value-based heath care encourages hospitals to add lawyers to treatment teams, and often they are on hand to help patients at no additional cost. Lawyers on care teams can be particularly helpful when hospitals have to deal with poorer populations.
Editor’s Desk

Whatever problems the ACA might have, health care company CEOs shouldn’t be the ones complaining (and they really aren’t very much).

Why? Because they’ve been handsomely compensated since the ACA was signed into law in 2010, as a nice bit of reporting by Bob Herman at Axios showed yesterday morning.

A bit of good news for those worrying about the coming physician shortage: the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) says that the number of doctors increased 12% from 2010 to 2016. There were 953,695 actively licensed physicians in the United States in 2016, up from 850,085 in 2010.

Viewpoint
Zachary Hafner

Zachary Hafner

The awakening of the health care consumer is powerfully good news for the mission of providers and payers. In other industries, the same forces have led to innovation, cost reduction, and heightened value. We should expect health care to be no different.

FDA chief Scott Gottlieb hopes to be able to stem the flood of opioids fueling the worst drug crisis in U.S. history by blocking them at their source: health plans and PBMs.

One of the common complaints in health care is that nobody really knows what something costs. Price variation occurs not only within regions or states, but even in the same city.

Tomorrow's Medicine
With a list price that is 25% less than a competing drug, better outcomes, and less frequent dosing, maybe Ocrevus will start a new trend: better outcomes, easier administration—and a lower price. That trifecta is great news for people managing the cost and quality of MS care.
Did UnitedHealthcare’s risk adjustment department actually “turn on the gas,” as one executive put it, in an illegal effort to increase revenue? That’s the claim at the heart of two cases the federal Department of Justice brought this spring against the nation’s largest health insurer. The industry is watching closely.
News & Commentary
Fashioning health care IT so it protects patients against medical mistakes requires a sustained effort that should be funded by both the private and public sectors, according to a report by the Bipartisan Policy Center. The cost would be a “nominal” amount of between $3 million and $4 million a year

Road Trip

The Democratic governor and the Republican legislature have moved to shore up the individual market, but Minnesotans are leaving it in droves. About 167,000 residents bought individual coverage this year, compared with 270,000 in 2016. Premium hikes have been caused, in part, by the consolidation of providers.

Road Trip

Joseph Burns
Maine presents some daunting challenges when it comes to insurance coverage and health care costs because it’s both the most rural state in the country and the one with the highest median age, two factors that drive up health spending.

Road Trip

The lowest rate of uninsured, but costs are a concern. That’s due, in part, to the clout of the state’s large prestigious health care systems, especially Partners Healthcare in Boston, which includes Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

Road Trip

After premiums for 2017 increased, on average, by 32.5% over premiums for coverage in 2016, rate filings by insurers for 2018 show rates going up by only 8.8% over 2017 rates. But it could take at least five years for the ACA exchanges to shake all the bugs out.