The Rundown | Week of 10.29.2018

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Trump Proposes New Medicare Pricing Model

President Trump has proposed a Medicare model to lower drug prices that is based on the International Pricing Index (IPI). Drugs paid for through the Medicare Part B model — which includes chemotherapy and other drugs administered by physicians — would account for worldwide prices instead of the “average sales price” that, under the current model, dictates the cost to payers and patients. This new “Target Price” is equal to 126 percent of the average price other countries pay for the same medication, plus an additional fee determined by hospitals and providers administering the drug. Details are forthcoming, but a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that taxpayers and patients would save $17.2 billion over five years as drug prices “will drop by 30 percent.”
>> Read More: What You Need to Know about President Trump Cutting Down on Foreign Freeloading

Study: M&A on the Decline in Q3

PwC reported that, while healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&A) remained robust in Q3, there was a decline in activity compared to recent quarters. This latest quarter saw 261 deals worth $15.9 billion, a decline of 11 percent in number and 36 percent in value when compared to Q2 of this year. This was the fewest deals since Q1 of 2017. Again, the most active sector was long-term care, which amassed 102 deals. Managed care and physician medical groups experienced the largest declines in activity with the latter dropping by 30 percent. Researchers speculate that the downward trend is an anomaly and not indicative of a slowing of healthcare deals as a whole, especially given the recent progress with CVS-Aetna and Cigna-Express Scripts deals. In related news, the recent boom in M&A has led to increased downgrades in healthcare credit ratings, Fitch Ratings reported.
>> Read More: US Health Services Deals Insights: Q3 2018

AMA Tool Update Highlights Population Health

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently released an updated version of its Health Workforce Manager tool with an enhanced population health feature. The capability provides data on “healthcare access and quality, health behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use, demographics, and social environment factors” and other behaviors. According to AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, MD, “Providers can use this information to help them determine where to locate or expand their practices to reach patients in greatest need of access to care.” The tool also incorporates data from both the AMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find areas with physician shortages as well as workforce trends.
>> Read More: AMA Announces Updated Tool to Locate Underserved Patient Care Areas

Study: Seasons’ Effect on the Mind

A study published in PLOS Medicine indicated that cognitive performance may be strongly tied to seasonal changes. The findings demonstrated that cognition peaked from late summer to early fall and declined from late winter to early spring. More than 3,000 elderly people — both with and without Alzheimer’s disease — comprised the population. Researchers concluded there “may be [of] benefit to increasing dementia diagnosis and care resources in the winter and early spring, when individuals’ thinking and concentration are at their worst.” Furthermore, the study may shed light on “new avenues of treatment for Alzheimer [sic] disease.” Such variations may not be unique to older patients; a similar study from Europe discovered fluctuations in brain activity, as demonstrated by short-term memory and sustained attention, among healthy, younger participants.
>> Read More: Seasonal Plasticity of Cognition and Related Biological Measures in Adults With and Without Alzheimer Disease: Analysis of Multiple Cohorts

Study: Screen Time Linked to Impaired Mental Health

Children and teens who take in at least seven hours of screen time per day are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety as those who spend an hour a day in front of a screen. The study, which was published in Preventive Medicine Reports, inputted data from 40,337 participants between the ages of 2 and 17. Screen time included cell phones, computers, electronic devices, video games, and television. The highest digital consumers experience decreased curiosity, self-control, and emotional stability compared to counterparts who spent little-to-no time in front of a screen. Interestingly, there was no difference in well-being between non-users and those who limited use to an hour or less per day. The link between mental illness and screen time was especially strong among adolescents, when compared to children or teenagers who participated in the study.
>> Read More: Associations Between Screen Time and Lower Psychological Well-Being Among Children and Adolescents: Evidence From a Population-Based Study

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