When covering prescription drug pricing, one problem that journalists face is understanding the almost-labyrinthine complexity of the drug supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer.
For one of its first investigations, the young publication Tarbell set out to explain why drug prices are so high. In doing so, Tarbell Editor Randy Barrett describes in great detail the complex world of pharmacy pricing. Continue reading
Photo: Jeff Porter/AHCJSeema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, spoke at a briefing on public health emergencies at the CDC in December.
Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was on defense on Thursday during a meeting with reporters who pushed her to explain a series of controversial decisions made by her agency in recent weeks.
The agency has faced accusations of sabotage by health advocates after the agency’s decisions to end risk payments to insurance companies offering plans on the individual market and to dramatically cut funding for navigators who help consumers sign up for coverage. Continue reading
The new assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to improve the agency’s outreach to regional reporters and plans to hire a liaison devoted to working with journalists outside the Beltway.
Judy Stecker, appointed to the role in April, mentioned the new emphasis on reaching regional reporters in a phone call last week with the chairs of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee. Continue reading
Today the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced a “Scorecard” intended to increase public transparency about the performance of the agency’s programs.
The site uses data that was voluntarily submitted by states on “selected health and program indicators.” An introduction to the site says it offers information about these questions: Continue reading
One of the most complicated topics to cover in health care today is the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Employers and health plans hire these middlemen to manage their prescription benefit programs for workers and health plan members.
Not only do PBMs contract with health plans, but some large health plans, notably UnitedHealthcare which owns Optum, have their own PBMs. Late last year, CVS Health, one of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains and owns Caremark, a PBM, said it would buy Aetna, one of the country’s largest health insurers. That deal is pending regulatory review, as Bruce Japsen reported for Forbes early this month. Continue reading
The Association of Health Care Journalists today unveiled hospitalfinances.org, a website that offers free, searchable financial information on nonprofit hospitals across the United States.
The aim is to make nonprofit hospital finances easier to access, search and analyze. This effort follows years of training by AHCJ to encourage journalists and the public to use nonprofit hospital filings and learn more about hospitals. Continue reading