News & Information
AMA President: "Blame Insurers"
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 04:12 PM

Blame the insurer when a patient gets a massive bill because a treating clinician was outside the insurer’s network, said Barbara McAneny, MD, president of the American Medical Association (AMA). The problem with such so-called “surprise billing” is that insurers have not fought hard enough to protect their patients.

“I look at it as … inadequacy of the insurance companies to successfully negotiate a network. I recognize that [insurers] make more money when they have a very narrow network, but that’s not fair to patients who expect full coverage," McAneny said. She said insurers and insurance commissioners must insure that networks aren’t so narrow that essential slices of the healthcare workforce are excluded. 

The AMA and dozens of other medical societies expressed concerns regarding out-of-network “surprise" bills and have pressed Congress to hold insurers accountable for these surprise charges, calling for stronger network adequacy standards, suggesting patients pay only in-network cost-sharing rates, and urging that any legislation lawmakers pass include a process of mediation or "alternative dispute resolution."

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Bill Introduced in Texas Legislature to Seek to Improve "Health Literacy"
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 04:08 PM

HB 2032 has been introduced into the Texas Legislature that would define the meaning of health literacy and call for an advisory committee to develop and promote plans to promote health literacy.

As introduced the bill would define health literacy to mean “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and health services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”

The bill would call for a Health Literacy Advisory Committee that “must include representatives of interested groups, including the academic community, consumer groups, health plans, pharmacies, and associations of physicians, hospitals, and nurses.”

The committee’s purpose is to “develop a long-range plan for increasing health literacy in this state,” identifying risk factors for low health literacy, examining methods for health care practitioners, facilities and others to address health literacy with patients and the public, and identify ways to expand the use of plain language instructions for patients.

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Pharma Candidate for President in 2020?
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 04:05 PM

Cory Booker has been heckled by constituents as a pawn of “Big Pharma.”  He has been pointedly asked whether he could be trusted to hold large pharmaceutical companies accountable as he makes his run for the presidency in 2020.

That reputation, deserved or not, could become a major political liability for Booker, particularly at a time of concern over drug prices and in a race with other progressive lawmakers like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders whose disdain for large drug companies is palpable.

Booker knows his ability to win over Democrats appears to rest, in part, on whether he can convince voters he’s in the same league. But he is also wary of painting the industry with too broad a brush.  “I live in Newark, a low-income community where people work for pharmaceutical companies,” Booker said.

The past two years have left little doubt that Booker has fully embraced a pivot with regard to pharma.  In a major shift a year before announcing his White House run, Booker publicly swore off corporate campaign money, singling out cash from drug industry executives in particular.

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Texas Launches Website to Educate of the Dangers of Opioid Abuse
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 04:02 PM

In his office’s latest initiative to combat the nation’s opioid crisis, Attorney General Ken Paxton today launched Dose of Reality, a new comprehensive website to inform and educate Texans about the dangers of misusing prescription painkillers. The new site is available at www.DoseofReality.Texas.gov

“The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids cost lives and devastate Texas families in every region of our state,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Opioids such as OxyContin and hydrocodone are prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain, but have serious risks and side effects. When patients are not well informed, these drugs can inflict far more pain than they prevent. The Dose of Reality website is intended to give Texans the information they need to avoid those unintended consequences. My office will continue to do everything it can to protect Texans from the opioid crisis.”

Dose of Reality provides individuals, patients, health care providers, teachers, coaches and others with opioid-related resources in one location, allowing for quick and easy access to vital information. The new website includes details on approaches to preventing opioid abuse and addiction, proper pain management, safe storage of prescription painkillers and guidelines on responding to an opioid overdose. It also features a statewide take back map of locations that accept prescription opioids for safe disposal.  

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Unvaccinated Teens Trying to Get Shots on their Own
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 03:57 PM

According to the Washington Post “Internet-savvy teenagers are fact-checking their parents’ decisions in a digital health reawakening — and seeking their own treatments in bouts of family defiance. This generation of unvaccinated children coming of age has looked at the science and want to protect themselves.” said Allison Winnike, president and chief executive of the Immunization Partnership, a Texas-based nonprofit vaccine advocacy group. “Now you’re seeing children coming of age, out from a cloud of misinformation,” Winnike told The Washington Post.

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