In This Edition:
From Kaiser Health News:
Researchers examine the Food and Drug Administration’s “revolving door” regarding employees who worked on cancer and hematology drugs. (Sydney Lupkin, 9/27)
As more states consider legalizing recreational marijuana, families consider what messages to present to young people about using pot. Should it be avoidance, moderation or acceptance? Differing views from Arizona and Oregon. (Kristian Foden-Vencil, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and Stina Sieg, KJZZ, 9/28)
Carfentanil, a potent variation on fentanyl, is being blamed for a wave of opioid overdoses. In Cincinnati, the coroner, crime lab and first responders are struggling to keep up. (Jake Harper, Side Effects Public Media, 9/28)
Kaiser Health News provides a fresh take on health policy developments with "Political Cartoon: 'Finding The Right Fit'" by Lisa Benson.
Here's today's health policy haiku:
THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC’S DEADLY TOLL
It’s overwhelming …
Not just for addicts, but for
First responders, too.
If you have a health policy haiku to share, please Contact Us and let us know if you want us to include your name. Keep in mind that we give extra points if you link back to a KHN original story.
Summaries Of The News:
Social media and other digital strategies are at the center of the effort. Also in the news, the House passes a bill to exempt customers of failed insurance co-ops from the health law's coverage mandate, some people shopping for plans get help from brokers and more fallout from insurers leaving the marketplaces.
The Wall Street Journal: Health-Insurance Push Targets Young Adults
The Obama administration will use targeted, digital messages and online networks such as Twitter in a sweeping campaign to get young adults to sign up for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act’s fall open enrollment, appealing to a group seen as critical to the law’s success. The administration, which announced the new push on Tuesday, is betting the aggressive campaign will resonate with uninsured consumers age 35 and under. (Armour, 9/27)
The Hill: White House Makes New Push For Young ObamaCare Signups
The Obama administration is announcing new steps to increase ObamaCare outreach to young adults as it seeks to improve the stability of the healthcare law by bringing in more youthful, generally healthy participants. Amid concerns from insurers about financial losses due to a sicker-than-expected pool of enrollees, the administration is stepping up its efforts ahead of the signup period for next year, which begins Nov. 1. (Sullivan, 9/27)
The Hill: House Passes Bill Exempting Some From ObamaCare Mandate
The House on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow people enrolled in failed health insurance "co-ops" to skip this year's penalty for not having coverage. The Republican-backed bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 258-165. Sixteen Democrats broke with their party to support the measure. ... Democrats opposed the bill, arguing it is unnecessary. They pointed out that enrollees in co-op plans that fail in the middle of the year are provided a special sign-up period in order to find a new plan. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said the bill is “yet another attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act, plain and simple.” The White House threatened a veto on the bill, arguing that it would chip away at the individual mandate, a crucial component of the law that helps prevent people from waiting until they get sick to sign up for coverage. (Sullivan, 9/27)
The CT Mirror: With No Broker Fees, Will Obamacare Customers Get Enough Shopping Help?
Shopping for health insurance isn’t easy for most people, but for Branden Weaver, the stakes are especially high: His two young sons are on the autism spectrum, and he and his wife are determined to ensure they have a health plan that covers the practitioners who treat them. But the first time they tried signing up for coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, they ended up in Medicaid, which didn’t cover one of their older son’s providers. Weaver tried to sign his son up for a private insurance plan that did, but even with his information technology background, he found it difficult. So he turned to an insurance broker. (Levin Becker, 9/28)
The Tennessean: BCBST's Exit From 3 Obamacare Markets Sends Shock Waves
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee sent shock waves Monday across Tennessee with the company's decision to exit the Obamacare exchange in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville, a move that highlights persistent volatility in the young health insurance marketplace. Three years into the Affordable Care Act exchange, the state’s largest insurer is grappling with hefty losses and ongoing uncertainty on the marketplace. BCBST is open to coming fully back into the market once uncertainties about policies and the membership wane. (Fletcher, 9/27)
The Des Moines Register: Wellmark Trims Broad-Network Health Insurance Options
Iowans looking to buy individual health insurance policies now have fewer options from the state’s largest carrier. Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield leaders said Tuesday that they no longer will sell standard, broad-network health policies, known as PPO plans, on the individual market in Iowa. The company will continue to sell plans that steer participants to specific hospital-and-clinic systems, such as the Mercy Health System or the University of Iowa system. It also will sell an HMO plan that has some restrictions on out-of-network care. (Leys, 9/27)
Robert Lanciotti says the test the agency recommends misses nearly 40 percent of Zika infections. He has since been reinstated after filing a whistleblower retaliation claim.
The Washington Post: CDC Whistleblower Claims Agency Has Been Using Wrong Zika Test
In the midst of the fight to control Zika, the top public health agency in the United States has been engaged in an intense internal debate about the best way to test whether someone has been infected with the mosquito-borne virus. At the center of the debate at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one of the leading experts on Zika virus. Robert Lanciotti is chief of the CDC lab responsible for developing tests to diagnose viral diseases such as Zika that are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Lanciotti was demoted in May after he raised concerns inside and outside the agency about the CDC’s decision in the spring to recommend a new test for Zika. (Sun, 9/27)
In other Zika news —
Tampa Bay Times: Results From Gov. Scott's Emergency Zika Research Is Years Away
The results of an emergency research push for a Zika vaccine announced last week by Gov. Rick Scott likely won't come to fruition for years. Members of the state Biolmedical Research Advisory Council have been asked to get the grant program off the ground in the next four months with a three-year timeline for the projects that ultimately will be funded by the Department of Health. ... Last Thursday, Scott announced the grant program, a rare use of his power under a state of public health emergency declared in February as travel-related cases of Zika first arrived in Florida. He set aside $25 million primarily for research into a vaccine and more efficient Zika tests. (Auslen, 9/27)
Miami Herald: Zika Virus: Miami-Dade Mayor Will Release Zika Mosquito Trap Locations Unless State Prohibits It
Miami-Dade County on Wednesday will release the locations of mosquito traps that captured Zika-positive insects in Miami Beach, the result of a public dispute between state and local officials after the Miami Herald filed a lawsuit seeking the information. The word came Tuesday evening, an hour after Gov. Rick Scott and Surgeon General Celeste Philip agreed that Miami-Dade can release the trap locations. (Flechas, 9/27)
Tampa Bay Times: Bay Area Zika Investigation Closed With No Further Cases Found
At least for now, Tampa Bay is considered officially Zika-free. Florida Department of Health officials announced Tuesday that they have closed the active investigation into the region's first locally transmitted case of the virus that has been linked to birth defects.The patient was a Tampa Fire Rescue firefighter who lived in Pinellas, triggering a scramble by health departments on both sides of the bay to contain a potential outbreak. (O'Donnell, 9/27)
More than half of the hematology-oncology assessors who reviewed drugs between 2001 and 2010 went on to work for the biopharmaceutical industry after leaving the agency.
Stat: From FDA Expert To Biotech Insider: The Drug Industry Thrives On The Revolving Door
Critics of the revolving door between government and industry cite the hundreds of lawmakers-turned-lobbyists as case studies in the art of cashing in on one’s years of public service. But less is known about the revolving door between the Food and Drug Administration and the biopharmaceutical industry. In a study published Tuesday in the journal BMJ, researchers who studied the careers of FDA medical reviewers found that more than half of the hematology-oncology assessors who reviewed drugs between 2001 and 2010 went on to work for the biopharmaceutical industry. (Kaplan, 9/27)
Kaiser Health News: When Drug Reviewers Leave The FDA, They Often Work For Pharma
More than a quarter of the Food and Drug Administration employees who approved cancer and hematology drugs from 2001 through 2010 left the agency and now work or consult for pharmaceutical companies, according to research published by a prominent medical journal Tuesday. Dr. Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist and assistant professor at Oregon Health and Science University, sought to understand the so-called “revolving door” between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry, which he said is often discussed but hadn’t been quantified. (Lupkin, 9/27)