Category Archives: Health policy

Who is Jeffrey Zients, the soon-to-be White House coronavirus czar?

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Jeffrey Zients

As President-elect Joe Biden develops a strategy for ending the pandemic, the person who will be in charge of executing the plan will be Jeffrey Zients.

Zients, who Biden named the White House coronavirus czar, is a businessman and former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama. In the new role, he’ll be corralling federal, state and local resources to create a national testing program, to fix gaps in the medical supply chain and to expand the roll out of coronavirus vaccines.

On Monday, the Trump administration began distributing the first of 40 million doses of vaccines which are to be administered by the end of 2020. More doses of vaccines are expected to be manufactured and distributed in early 2021, and Biden pledged to get 100 million doses of vaccines to people around the country within his first 100 days of office. Continue reading

SCOTUS ruling allows states to regulate what PBMs pay pharmacists

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by dbking via Flickr

States seeking to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) won an important victory on Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0, rejecting a challenge to a law the state of Arkansas passed in 2015 to put restrictions on PBMs. The ruling could allow states to regulate PBMs, as Darrel Rowland reported for The Columbus Dispatch.

Rowland is a member of an award-winning team of reporters and editors at the Dispatch who have covered PBMs in Ohio and elsewhere since January 2018, as we reported on this blog.

Continue reading

Supreme Court case on Affordable Care Act could have far-reaching effects on Medicaid expansion, pre-existing condition protections

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by dbking via Flickr

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether it should strike down the individual mandate and the entire Affordable Care Act.

As always, SCOTUSblog has all the details on the case, California v. Texas and Texas v. California (both of which have been consolidated for oral arguments on whether the ACA’s requirement that Americans get health insurance is constitutional and, if not, whether the rest of the ACA can survive). Continue reading

Employers and insurers paid hospitals 247% more than Medicare rates, new study shows

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: stevenharman via Flickr

Research released today shows that from 2016 through 2018, self-insured employers and commercial health insurers in 49 states and the District of Columbia paid 247% more, on average, than what the Medicare program would have paid for the same inpatient and outpatient hospital services.

Researchers from RAND analyzed hospital claims data from 3,112 hospitals in every state except Maryland, which was excluded because the state has an all-payer rate setting model in which hospitals charge prices that are equal to what Medicare and private insurers pay, the report explained. The claims totaled $33.8 billion and came from self-insured employers, six state all-payer claims databases and health plans from 2016 to 2018. Continue reading

Community transmission rate key to K-12 school reopening

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

school busAs school leaders and parents grapple with questions about school reopening this fall, a key measure to consider is the community transmission rate of COVID-19, say two educators and an infectious disease specialist.

When states and cities are reporting that more than 5% of COVID-19 tests are positive, the transmission rate is high enough that schools could become hot spots for community outbreaks, they said. Continue reading

Expert and author traces history of patient safety movement, suggests stories

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Yes, there’s a lot going on these days.

Impeachment.

Potential war.

The 2020 election.

(Forget for a minute the cynic’s view that all three things might actually be the same.)

We’re forgetting or perhaps just distracted from drawing our readers’ attention to a preventable problem that kills some 200,000 people a year. Continue reading