Tag Archives: costs

Gene therapy development on the rise but costs remain an issue

Markian Hawryluk

About Markian Hawryluk

Markian Hawryluk (markianhawryluk) covers health and fitness issues for The (Bend, Ore.) Bulletin. He has won numerous awards for his health writing from AHCJ and the Society of Professional Journalists and won the 2009 Bruce Baer Award for Investigative Journalism. In 2012, he was named a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

After decades of unfulfilled promises and setbacks, the field of gene therapy broke through with three FDA-approved products last year, ushering in what is likely to be a rapid escalation of new treatments for some of the rarest and most debilitating diseases.

“Part of the idea of the Human Genome project was that once we had the identity of all the genes, it would be important and straight forward for us to development more therapeutic options for people with serious inherited diseases, said Katherine High, M.D., president and director of research and development for Philadelphia-based Spark Therapeutics. “But it turned out this took a little longer to do than the Human Genome project.” Continue reading

New tip sheet offers insights into ‘hidden’ issue of incontinence

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Some may find it funny. Others struggle to discuss it. Still others shrug it off as a “normal” part of aging. No matter how you may look at it, bladder control issues are no joke for millions of older people in the U.S. Incontinence and over-active bladder (OAB) can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

It can lead to depression, social isolation or serious side effects from certain medications that treat the condition. Continue reading

OPTIMISTIC program reduces avoidable hospitalizations

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: SalFalko via Flickr

A nursing home demonstration project in Indiana has reduced avoidable hospitalizations among residents by a third, according to a recently released independent evaluation of OPTIMISTIC, (Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical quality and Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care).

OPTIMISTIC is a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) demonstration program designed to improve chronic disease management and boost staff education and training.

Continue reading

Reporters dig into pharmacy benefit concerns following merger announcements

Joseph Burns

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: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

The proposed combination of one of the nation’s largest health insurers, Cigna Corp., and the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits manager (PBM), Express Scripts Holdings Company, is unlikely to benefit consumers much, if at all. But to their credit, health care journalists are digging into how consumers might benefit from the deal.

These questions are important, given that the Cigna-Express Scripts deal follows an announcement three months earlier that CVS Health would pay $69 billion for Aetna Inc., another major health insurers, in a deal “that could reshape the health industry,” as the New York Times reported. Pharmacy retailer CVS Health also owns a PBM, CVS/Caremark. Continue reading

#AHCJ18 panel to examine impact of hospital consolidations on costs

Joseph Burns

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.

Last year, there were 115 hospital and health system mergers and acquisitions – the highest number recorded in recent history, according to a report from Kaufman, Hall & Associates, a management consulting company that tracks M&A deals in health care.

The number and size of these transactions are transforming the health care system, the company said: “The implications reach far beyond the unprecedented number of individual transactions. Organizational size and scale have mattered for decades – but today, they are proving to be imperatives.” Continue reading