Search Journal-type in search term and press enter
Social Media-Follow Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care on Facebook and Twitter

News

Last 50 News Postings

 (Click on title to be directed to posting, most recent listed first)

FDA Commissioner Gottlieb Resigns
Physicians Generate an Average $2.4 Million a Year Per Hospital
Drug Prices Continue to Rise
New Center for Physician Rights
CMS Decreases Clinic Visit Payments to Hospital-Employed Physicians
   and Expands Decreases in Drug Payments 340B Cuts
Big Pharma Gives Millions to Congress
Gilbert Hospital and Florence Hospital at Anthem Closed
CMS’ Star Ratings Miscalculated
VA Announces Aggressive New Approach to Produce Rapid Improvements
   in VA Medical Centers
Healthcare Payments Under the Budget Deal: Mostly Good News
   for Physicians
Hospitals Plan to Start Their Own Generic Drug Company
Flu Season and Trehalose
MedPAC Votes to Scrap MIPS
CMS Announces New Payment Model
Varenicline (Chantix®) Associated with Increased Cardiovascular Events
Tax Cuts Could Threaten Physicians
Trump Nominates Former Pharmaceutical Executive as HHS Secretary
Arizona Averages Over 25 Opioid Overdoses Per Day
Maryvale Hospital to Close
California Enacts Drug Pricing Transparency Bill
Senate Health Bill Lacks 50 Votes Needed to Proceed
Medi-Cal Blamed for Poor Care in Lawsuit
Senate Republican Leadership Releases Revised ACA Repeal and Replace Bill
Mortality Rate Will Likely Increase Under Senate Healthcare Bill
University of Arizona-Phoenix Receives Full Accreditation
Limited Choice of Obamacare Insurers in Some Parts of the Southwest
Gottlieb, the FDA and Dumbing Down Medicine
Salary Surveys Report Declines in Pulmonologist, Allergist and Nurse 
   Incomes
CDC Releases Ventilator-Associated Events Criteria
Medicare Bundled Payment Initiative Did Not Reduce COPD Readmissions
Younger Smokers Continue to Smoke as Adults: Implications for Raising the
   Smoking Age to 21
Most Drug Overdose Deaths from Nonprescription Opioids
Lawsuits Allege Price Fixing by Generic Drug Makers
Knox Named Phoenix Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs
Rating the VA Hospitals
Garcia Resigns as Arizona University VP
Combination Influenza Therapy with Clarithromycin-Naproxen-Oseltamivir
   Superior to Oseltamivir Alone
VAP Rates Unchanged
ABIM Overhauling MOC
Substitution of Assistants for Nurses Increases Mortality, Decreases Quality
CMS Releases Data on Drug Spending
Trump Proposes Initial Healthcare Agenda
Election Results of Southwest Ballot Measures Affecting Healthcare
Southwest Ballot Measures Affecting Healthcare
ACGME Proposes Dropping the 16 Hour Resident Shift Limit
Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: RT Out, Pembrolizumab In, and Vaccine
   Hope or Hype
Dental Visits May Prevent Pneumonia

 

For an excel file with complete news listings click here.

A report from Heartwire described a letter written by Peter Wilmshurst to the AHA asking for full disclosure of conflicts of interest in the MIST trial. Wilmshurst was portrayed in SWJPCC on April 27, 2012 in our Profiles of Medical Courage series. We felt the report of the letter might be of interest to the readership of SWJPCC but there was no good section to pass along the Heartwire article. For this reason, a new Section entitled “News” has been started to report developments outside the usual medical journal purview or from other sources which might interest our readers. We encourage bringing news-worthy articles to our attention and would welcome submission of written reports of such articles.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Entries in Medicare (8)

Tuesday
Nov152016

CMS Releases Data on Drug Spending

Yesterday (11/14/16) the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released data on spending for drugs under Medicare and Medicaid (1,2). Medicare paid $137.4 billion on drugs covered by its prescription drug benefit in 2015. About $8.7 billion of that spending occurred on drugs that had "large" price hikes, defined as a more than 25 percent increase between 2014 and 2015. In 2015, Medicaid paid $57.3 billion about $5.1 billion of which was spent on drugs that had large price increases.

The Medicare spending database highlights 11 drugs that doubled in price. The Medicaid database identified 20 drugs that more than doubled in price with 9 of these being old, generic drugs. Medicare drugs were led by Glumetza, a Type 2 diabetes drug which saw its price soar 380 percent and hydroxychloroquine sulfate, a generic malaria drug, which went up 370 percent. Medicaid drugs were led by Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication approved in 1977, which increased by 1,264 percent in price between 2014 and 2015. Daraprim, a decades-old antiparasitic drug that helped spark political attention to the issue of high drug prices after former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli hiked the price, leapt up in average cost by 874 percent.

However, drugs commonly used in respiratory diseases also increased in price. These were led by mitomycin, an anticancer drug sometimes used in lung cancer, an antidepressant also used as a smoking cessation aid (Table 1).

Table 1. Medicare Spending on Respiratory Drugs. (Open table in separate window)

The data on price on small prices rises can be deceiving when calculating total costs. For example, Advair Diskus, a bronchodilator, ranked in the top-five of Medicare expenditures, with $2.3 billion in spending in 2015. However, he utilization of the drug has actually declined a little over the last five years. Meanwhile, the total spending has not gone down, but increased. Fueled by relatively modest price increases, from $3.81 per unit in 2011 to $5.28 in 2015, the spending on the drug increased by more than half a billion dollars over that period.

Of particular concern is a rise in price of some generics, a class of drugs that are intended to decrease drug prices and spending. Drugs that were responsible for large amounts of overall spending tended to see smaller increases that gradually increased the government outlay. In one outlier, the price of the hepatitis C treatment, Harvoni, decreased slightly in 2015, even as it led overall spending.

The prices do not include the impact of rebates, which are prohibited by law from being released (3). Those discounts can be significant, and not knowing what they are means the numbers almost certainly overstate how much the government actually paid for these drugs. CMS disclosed that, on average, rebates for brand name drugs were 17.5 percent for medicines covered by Medicare's "part D" prescription drug benefit in 2014.

Richard A. Robbins, MD

Editor, SWJPCC

References

  1. CMS. 2015 Medicare drug spending dashboard. Available at: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Information-on-Prescription-Drugs/2015Medicare.html (accessed 11/15/16.
  2. CMS. 2015 Medicaid drug spending dashboard. Available at: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Information-on-Prescription-Drugs/2015Medicaid.html (accessed 11/15/16).
  3. Johnson CY. Drugs for hepatitis C and diabetes drove Medicare spending in 2015. Washington Post. November 14, 2016. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/14/the-drugs-driving-up-medicare-spending/ (accessed 11/15/16).

Cite as: Robbins RA. CMS releases data on drug spending. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2016;13(5):242-3. doi: https://doi.org/10.13175/swjpcc118-16 PDF 

Tuesday
Sep202016

Hospital Employment of Physicians Does Not Improve Quality

The Annals of Internal Medicine posted a manuscript on-line today reporting that the growing trend of physician employment by hospitals does not improve quality (1). In 2003, approximately 29% of hospitals employed members of their physician workforce, a number that rose to 42% by 2012. The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of U.S. acute care hospitals between 2003 and 2012 and examined mortality rates, 30-day readmission rates, length of stay, and patient satisfaction scores for common medical conditions for 803 hospitals that switched to the employment model compared with 2085 control hospitals that did not switch. Switching hospitals were more likely to be large (11.6% vs. 7.1%) or major teaching hospitals (7.5% vs. 4.5%) and less likely to be for-profit institutions (8.8% vs. 19.9%) (all p values <0.001).

The authors used Medicare Provider Analysis and Review File (MedPAR) from 2002 to 2013 to calculate hospital-level risk-adjusted performance on mortality, readmissions, and length of stay for acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and pneumonia. Hospital Compare data from 2007 to 2013 was used to assess overall patient satisfaction. After conversion to a physician employed model, no difference was found in any of 4 primary composite quality metrics with the single exception of readmission rates for pneumonia. That decline was modest (19.3% vs. 19.1% readmissions) and judged not likely to be clinically significant by the authors.

Recently, Baker and colleagues found that hospital employment of  physicians is associated with higher spending and prices (2). This data combined with the data from the present study suggest that the trend is for higher healthcare costs without an improvement in quality. Commenting in Medscape Richard Gunderman, a well-known healthcare delivery researcher from the University of Indiana, said that those who think quality comes from increasingly larger organizations with more advanced information technology and greater standardization across the system will see these results as surprising and disappointing (3). Pointing to high levels of burnout and widespread complaints of lack of time with patients, Gunderman said less physician control over individual patient care has taken a toll. "There's no doubt that a demoralized workforce will tend to drive quality down," he said. "Many hospitals and health systems around the country are grappling with poor and, in some cases, dismal engagement scores. I think that's an indication that a lot of physicians feel that the changes taking place across healthcare are problematic."

Funding for the study was provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Limitations of the study was that the patients were primarily Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years and older. Therefore, the applicability of the findings to a younger population is unknown, however, the authors doubted that after switching to an employment model, hospitals would improve care for one group and not another.

Richard A. Robbins, MD

Editor, SWJPCC

References

  1. Scott KW, Orav EJ, Cutler KM, Jha AK. Changes in hospital–physician affiliations in U.S. hospitals and their effect on quality of care. Ann Intern Med. 2016. Available at: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2552987 (accessed 9/20/16). [CrossRef]
  2. Baker LC, Bundorf MK, Kessler DP. Vertical integration: hospital ownership of physician practices is associated with higher prices and spending. Health Aff (Millwood). 2014 May;33(5):756-63. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. Frellick M. Physician employment by hospitals does not improve quality Medscape. September 19, 2016. Available at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/868978?nlid=109338_2863&src=wnl_dne_160920_mscpedit&uac=9273DT&impID=1200121&faf=1#vp_2 (accessed 9/20/16). 

Cite as: Robbins RA. Hospital employment of physicians does not improve quality. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2016;13(3):133-4. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13175/swjpcc099-16 PDF

Friday
Apr252014

Searchable Database for Physician CMS Payments

Earlier this month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), despite the objections of many physicians, released physician payment data for 2012 (1). However, the data on the CMS website is difficult to search and interpret. The New York Times created a searchable database of physician payments from CMS which can be searched by physician name, specialty and/or location (2). The Times points out that payments may cover overhead, such as staff salaries and drug costs. In some cases, when doctors work as salaried employees of group practices, the payments that show up under their names go to their institutions.

Richard A. Robbins, MD

Editor

References

  1. CMS. Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier. Available at: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Medicare-Provider-Charge-Data/Physician-and-Other-Supplier.html (accessed 4/24/2014).
  2. NY Times. How Much Medicare Pays For Your Doctor’s Care. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/09/health/medicare-doctor-database.html (accessed 4/24/2014). 

Reference as: Robbins RA. Searchable databse for physician CMS payments. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2014;8(4):238. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.13175/swjpcc056-14 PDF

Page 1 2