After-hours GP home visits strain the budget (and don’t help emergency departments)

The Conversation, 1 June 2017
Authors: Barbara de Graaff and Mark Nelson
“After-hours home medical services are a burden on our health budget and don’t ease the strain on emergency departments after all, new research shows. The roll out of after-hours GP-type home visits is linked with as much as a ten-fold increase in Medicare claims in one jurisdiction. And rather than reducing the need to visit the emergency department, their rise in popularity has been accompanied by a slight increase in visits. These findings published today in the Australian Family Physician journal, question whether these convenient house calls are really the best use of taxpayers’ money.”
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ACCC takes health insurer to court

Herald Sun, 30 May 2017
Author: Stuart Condie
“The consumer watchdog has launched legal action against Nib over allegations the health insurer failed to tell customers they were suddenly liable for some out-of-pocket costs. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Tuesday said it believed Nib contravened Australian Consumer Law in 2015. At the time, the health insurer failed to give its members advance notice of a decision to remove certain eye procedures from a program where the ­insurer paid gap amounts to doctors. Elderly patients were among those most affected, the watchdog said.”
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Two Medicare Advantage Insurers Settle Whistleblower Lawsuit For $32 Million

KHN, 30 May 2017
Author: Fred Schulte
“Two Florida Medicare Advantage insurers have agreed to pay nearly $32 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that alleged they exaggerated how sick patients were and took other steps to overbill the government health plan for the elderly.”
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Abbott, Novartis and Sanofi Targeted in NPPA Clampdown on Drugs Sold Without Price Approval

RAPS, 23 May 2017
Author: Nick Paul Taylor
“The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) of India is taking action against drugmakers including Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi. These top pharmaceutical firms allegedly introduced drugs without seeking price approval and may have to pay back what they overcharged. In a letter to the companies the director of enforcement at NPPA, accused the businesses of altering scheduled formulations, either by changing the dose or combining the drug with a non-scheduled medicine. To NPPA, such changes represent the introduction of new drugs. As such, the companies should have obtained approval from NPPA for the prices of their new products before introducing them to the market.”
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Alzheimer’s Deaths Jump 55 Percent: CDC

WebMD, 25 May 2017
Author: Steven Reinberg
“As more baby boomers age, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have jumped 55 percent, and in a quarter of those cases the heavy burden of caregiving has fallen on loved ones, U.S. health officials report. “Alzheimer’s disease is a public health problem that affects not only people with Alzheimer’s disease, but also the people who provide care to them, which is often family members,” said report author Christopher Taylor.”
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Safe space for illegal drug consumption in Baltimore would save $6 million a year

Eurekalert, 25 May 2017
Source: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
“A new cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and others suggests that $6 million in costs related to the opioid epidemic could be saved each year if a single “safe consumption” space for illicit drug users were opened in Baltimore. It would also reduce overdose deaths, HIV and hepatitis C infections, overdose-related ambulance calls and hospitalizations – and bring scores of people into treatment, they found.”
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Many patients with early-stage breast cancer receive costly, inappropriate testing

EurekAlert, 24 May 2017
Author: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
“A study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shows that asymptomatic women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer often undergo advanced imaging and other tests that provide little if any medical benefit, could have harmful effects and may increase their financial burden.”
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Ethics Survey: Drug testing remains a clinical tug of war

Behavioural Net, 18 May 2017
Author: Julie Miller
“In recent weeks, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) prepared comprehensive guidelines on drug testing within the continuum of care. The goal is to present evidence-based recommendations for the frequency and application of testing, which payers and providers can adopt as best practices. It’s significant because up until now, there was no true consensus. And there’s also no denying that some treatment operators have aimed to maximize their profit streams through the overuse of testing and subsequent billing of insurance companies.”
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Disease-awareness ads lead to overdiagnosis, boost Rx sales

ModernHealthcare, 22 May 2017
Author: Alex Kacik
“Ads that try to bring awareness of diseases boost prescription drug sales and over diagnosis in the U.S., according to a new study. There is a fine line between direct-to-consumer drug ads, which the Food and Drug Administration regulates, and ads meant to create disease awareness that often skirt the purview of the FDA, per the article published in JAMA. Disease awareness advertisements, particularly for conditions that only have one approved drug treatment, can bolster drug sales and lead to “inappropriate” prescriptions as patients turn to their doctors and request the drugs they see advertised.”
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Sigma shares plunge on legal wrangle

News, 24 May 2017
Author: Melissa Jenkins
“Sigma Healthcare is planning legal action against the My Chemist/ Chemist Warehouse Group over an alleged breach of a supply agreement, sparking a dive in its share price. Sigma said its proposed action relates to the My Chemist/ Chemist Warehouse Group’s intention to obtain certain products from another wholesaler, which Sigma maintains it is not entitled to do under their existing agreement.”
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