The Rundown | Week of 8.5.2019

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Research Finds Relationship Between Hemoglobin and Dementia, Alzheimer’s

A recent study in Neurology found that both “low and high levels of hemoglobin are associated with an increased risk of dementia, including AD [Alzheimer’s disease].” Researchers noted a “U-shaped association between hemoglobin levels and dementia.” This inverse bell curve suggests that individuals with average hemoglobin levels are less likely to be diagnosed with dementia or AD. An unrelated study also published in Neurology indicates that a new blood test can predict Alzheimer’s disease with 94 percent accuracy.
>> Read More: Hemoglobin and Anemia in Relation to Dementia Risk and Accompanying Changes on Brain MRI

CMS Issues New Rule for Rural Health, Antibiotics

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a new rule that will increase reimbursements for novel antibiotics and “low wage hospitals.” Earlier this year, the World Health Organization declared “antimicrobial resistance … driven by overuse” one of the 10 greatest threats to global health. As such, the final rule “aims to allow the use of newer and higher-priced antibiotics when necessary,” according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The rural wage index increase also raises the new technology add-on payment to accelerate “the development and review of transformative new devices” for “serious or life-threatening diseases.”
>> Read More: Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (CMS-1716-F)

CVS Health Earnings Soar

CVS Health posted big second-quarter gains, exceeding analysts’ expectations. The pharmacy chain, which acquired Aetna last November, generated $63.4 billion in revenue, 35.2 percent more than the same period last year. The pharmacy filled 19 percent more prescriptions, driving growth. According to CNBC, the company plans to slow store expansion by more than 60 percent. “These results demonstrate our ability to execute on our strategic priorities to accelerate enterprise growth as we seek to fundamentally transform the consumer health experience,” CEO Larry Merlo said.
>> Read More: CVS Health Reports Second Quarter Results

HHS to Import Drugs to Lower Costs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a plan to safely import prescription drugs from foreign markets in order to lower drug costs. “President Trump has been clear: for too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices. … This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. The action plan would allow approved “states, wholesalers, or pharmacists” to “import certain drugs from Canada that are versions of FDA-approved drugs.” Furthermore, drugmakers could create a system of national drug codes that would allow them to import “U.S. versions of those drugs they sell in foreign countries … potentially allowing them to offer a lower price.”
>> Read More: HHS Announces New Action Plan to Lay Foundation for Safe Importation of Certain Prescription Drugs

Report: Inpatient Telehealth Skyrockets

Inpatient telehealth usage is “surging,” reports indicate. Definitive Healthcare’s recent survey shows “inpatient telehealth adoption” rose from “54 percent in 2014 to 85 percent in 2019, indicating a higher level of acceptance and desire for telehealth solutions and services.” Remote patient monitoring also increased, though not at the same rate. Furthermore, 90 percent of the surveyed hospitals and integrated delivery networks plan to invest further in telehealth within the next 18 months. Despite these planned investments, cost remains the primary barrier to adoption.
>> Read More: Definitive Healthcare Survey: Inpatient Telehealth Adoption on the Rise

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