Stories by Bob Herman

U.K. says new cancer therapy is too expensive

The Novartis headquarters building in Switzerland.
Novartis makes Kymriah, a new cancer treatment. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

NICE, the governmental group in the United Kingdom that evaluates the value of drugs and treatments, has recommended against the use of a new $371,000 cancer therapy made by Novartis. It said the drug is "too expensive" for the population it would treat and that Novartis' "confidential discount" was not steep enough.

Why it matters: NICE's recommendation comes about a month after it said a similar treatment, known as CAR-T and made by Gilead Sciences, also is too pricey. An independent U.S. body said this year the two therapies were mostly cost-effective, but their high price tags still worry clinicians and policymakers.

Health care startup aims to eliminate hospital and doctor bills

A doctor sits at a desk with paperwork and a blood pressure cuff.
Ooda Health wants to remove hospitals and doctors from the billing process. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

New payment startup Ooda Health has raised $40.5 million on the premise that its technology will make sure patients never get another bill from a hospital or doctor.

Why it matters: Ooda Health not only has big-name venture capitalists on board (Oak HC/FT and DFJ led the funding round), but also has large health insurers and providers as investors. However, while the company attempts to cut administrative waste, it won't address the health care system's underlying pricing and spending habits.

Senate wants to go after surprise medical bills

A man in a wheelchair checks in a hospital emergency room.
A new bill would try to resolve surprise emergency care bills. Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A group of U.S. senators, led by Republican Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, is working on a draft bill that would prohibit out-of-network hospitals and doctors from "balance billing" patients and would force health insurers to pay providers a negotiated amount, The Hill reports.

The big picture: The bill wouldn't be introduced until next year, but it shows legislators are getting an earful from constituents who are getting slammed by unexpected medical bills.