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4. Political Cartoon: 'All-Natural'

Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'All-Natural'" by Dan Piraro.

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A fever and chills...
Maybe a stomach virus?
Or something far worse.

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Summaries Of The News:


5. Senators Want Mylan To Justify 400-Percent Cost Increase For EpiPen Pack

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asks Mylan labs for pricing data on the auto-injected devices used to reverse potentially deadly allergic reactions. Meanswhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., asked the Federal Trade Commission and Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate the company's "outrageous" price hike for the medication.

Stat: Senators Press Mylan Labs Over 'Outrageous' EpiPen Pricing
Responding to the high cost of the EpiPen auto-injector for reversing life-threatening allergic reactions, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Monday wrote Mylan Laboratories asking for pricing data on the device. At the same time, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked the US Federal Trade Commission and the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate price hikes taken by Mylan. Klobuchar happens to be the ranking member of Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. And Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also wrote the company for data about assistance programs to patients and first responders. And he also demanded that Mylan lower its price. (Silverman, 8/22)

Morning Consult: Senate Democrat Compares EpiPen Cost Increases To Scrutinized Drugmakers
In a call for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the increased price of EpiPen packs, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) compared the rising cost of the device to companies such as Turing and Valeant hiking up the prices of rare pharmaceuticals. Mylan, the company that acquired EpiPens in 2007, has increased the cost of the allergic reaction reversal treatment from $100 per pack in 2008 to $500 currently, Klobuchar wrote in a letter sent Monday to the FTC. According to Klobuchar, the increases don’t seem to be justified because the company doesn’t need to recover the cost of developing the treatment, and the higher price is forcing some patients to maintain expired EpiPens because they can’t afford to update theirs annually. (McIntire, 8/22)

Morning Consult: Grassley Presses EpiPen Company On Price Hikes
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is seeking information on Mylan’s decision to increase the price of EpiPens since acquiring the treatment in 2007. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mylan’s CEO to explain the price increases that have occurred over the past few years, which have come under scrutiny. The price of the drug has increased by 400 percent and has put financial pressure on families and schools, he says. (McIntire, 8/22)

The Hill: Grassley Presses EpiPen Maker On 400 Percent Price Increase 
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking the maker of EpiPens to explain sharp increases in the device's price. Grassley wrote a letter to Mylan, the company that makes EpiPens, asking for an explanation of a 400 percent increase in the price since 2007. (Sullivan, 8/22)

6. Year-Long Study Leads Health-Services Company To Revamp Its Employee Wellness Program

Meanwhile, MedCity News details how hospitals are struggling to figure out how best to use social media to engage patients.

MedCity News: How To Effectively Engage Patients On Social Media
By now, most hospitals know they should be on social media, but they still struggle to understand where the value lies for them. Consider this: More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health. Social media offers hospitals the opportunity to impact health outcomes on a large scale. (Simon, 8/22)


7. Iowa Governor Dismisses Criticism Of Private Medicaid Managed Care Firms

Gov. Terry Branstad says the state's move this year to have three private firms run the Medicaid program is saving Iowa "significant" money, and he scoffs at concerns that the companies are not treating health care providers fairly.

The Des Moines Register: Branstad Scoffs At Criticism Of Medicaid Managed Care
Gov. Terry Branstad dismissed criticism of his move to privatize management of Iowa's Medicaid program, saying Monday the change is eliminating fraud and abuse and saving taxpayers millions of dollars. Medicaid health insurance, which serves 560,000 low-income Iowans at a cost of about $4.2 billion annually, has had its management shifted to three private companies after previously being operated by the government. (Petroski, 8/22)

Iowa Public Radio: Branstad: Some Companies "Not Following" Medicaid Privatization Rules
Gov. Terry Branstad confirmed on Monday that the for-profit companies now managing Iowa’s multi-billion dollar Medicaid program did not follow the rules in the first two months of operation. But the governor also says the state issued no warnings or fees, in spite of complaints of late payments to health care providers and delayed care to patients.  (Russell, 8/22)

The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette: Branstad: 'Significant' Savings From Iowa's Privately Managed Medicaid
Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday defended the state’s switch to privately managed care for Iowa’s Medicaid recipients, saying the new system is saving the state “significant” money by rooting out fraud and abuse that previously had gone undetected. Meanwhile, two of the three insurance companies tasked with managing the Medicaid system saw losses in the tens of millions of dollars during the first six months of the year, according to financial statements filed with the Iowa Insurance Division. (8/22)

The Des Moines Register: Medicaid Managers Report Millions In Iowa Losses
Two of the three private companies managing Iowa’s Medicaid program say they’ve lost tens of millions of dollars so far, new reports filed with the state show. AmeriHealth Caritas reported last week that it ran a $42.6 million deficit on its Iowa operations in the first six months of 2016. Amerigroup reported it lost $66.7 million. The third Medicaid management company, UnitedHealthcare, did not break out its Iowa results in its report. (Leys, 8/22)

And in Medicaid news from Texas —

Dallas Morning News: Texas Owes The Medicaid Program $57.8 Million, Report Says 
The state of Texas received nearly $58 million from the federal Medicaid program for health services that did not qualify for reimbursement — and it may be asked to return part of the money. Payments made to six facilities within the University of Texas academic health system were calculated in a way that did not meet federal and state requirements, according to an audit released this month by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General. (Rice, 8/22)

Campaign 2016

8. Clinton To Propose Expanded Tax Credits To Help Small Businesses Provide Workers Health Insurance

According to The Wall Street Journal, the proposal would simplify an underused tax credit created by the Affordable Care Act and expand it to companies with up to 50 workers. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that some Republicans suggest that a Hillary Clinton presidency could shift the health care debate from efforts to kill it to those that would tweak it.

The Wall Street Journal: Clinton To Offer Plan For Small Businesses
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is proposing a package of ideas aimed at helping small businesses, including a new standard deduction that could simplify tax filing and improvements to a little-used tax credit for companies that offer workers health insurance. (Meckler, 8/23)

Bloomberg: Clinton Win Could Pressure GOP To Heal, Not Repeal, Obamacare
Republicans in Congress have insisted the only way to fix Obamacare is to repeal it. But with Barack Obama about to leave the White House, several Republicans sound willing to tweak it rather than kill it. These Republicans suggest that a Hillary Clinton presidency could shift the debate over the Affordable Care Act just enough to work on improvements with someone who isn’t the law’s namesake.  (Wayne and House, 8/23)


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