Category Archives: Health care reform

Rural Health Workshop spotlights both successes and persistent challenges

Lisse Regehr, Thrive Allen County President and CEO and luncheon speaker, explains how to cultivate community health during the 2023 Rural Health Workshop in Kansas City. Photo by Erica Tricarico/AHCJ

Building unity and establishing trust within communities is crucial to improving health care access and addressing inequities in rural America. That was a recurring theme at AHCJ’s 2023 Rural Health Workshop in Kansas City.

“When we go into these [rural] communities, they will not always tell us what we want to hear … but they will be very honest about their pain points,” said the event’s luncheon speaker, Lisse Regehr, president and CEO of Thrive Allen County, which won the prestigious Culture of Health Prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2017.

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HHS names first 10 drugs for price negotiations
under the Inflation Reduction Act

The first 10 medications that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are negotiating prices for under Medicare this year. Chart by HHS

The Biden administration named the first 10 prescription drugs on Tuesday that will undergo Medicare price negotiations starting this year. This story is only the first part of what will be a continuing legal and political saga in the coming years.

One result of the historic announcement is that the government and taxpayers are expected to save $98.5 billion over the next decade, as Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Rebecca Robbins reported for The New York Times. For at least 30 years, federal officials have tried and failed to control rising drug prices, as we reported earlier this month.

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A year later, the Inflation Reduction Act
is about to take on rising drug costs

Image by Amanda M Hatfield via flickr.

For the first time, the government can begin negotiating drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The first step in those negotiations begins Sept. 1.

The U.S. has tried and failed to rein in rising drug prices since at least 1993 when President Clinton introduced reform under the Health Security Act, as the late Robert Pear wrote for The New York Times. In that unsuccessful attempt, Clinton proposed allowing Medicare to use its negotiating power to win discounts from pharmaceutical companies. 

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Proposed rules would protect consumers
from junk insurance plans, surprise bills and medical debt

how junk insurance compares to traditional

Infographic created by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in January 2022. Accessed July 14, 2023. Reprinted with permission

Junk insurance plans that don’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act are one of the biggest holes in the patchwork that is the U.S. health insurance system. These plans are typically short-term policies that often discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and aren’t required to provide coverage for basic services like maternity care, prescription medications and more, according to Aimed Alliance.

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Tip sheet: Nonprofit hospitals are gaming the system
at patients’ expense

graph from KFF

KFF research shows the estimated value of tax exemptions for nonprofit hospitals in 2020 was $28 billion, exceeding estimated charity care costs of about $16 billion among those hospitals. Source: Chart by KFF, accessed June 8, 2023. Reprinted with permission

So far this year, hardly a week goes by without an article or report on egregious actions by nonprofit hospitals. While the actions aren’t new, several factors have combined in 2023 to raise the level of scrutiny. 

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