Today's word count is 1,120 words, or ~4 minutes.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Air ambulances have become a lucrative business over the last few decades, at patients' expense, fueled by private equity and aided by the industry's relationships with providers, John Hopkins' Marty Makary writes in a new book out today.
Why it matters: The rise of the air ambulance industry has resulted in massive surprise medical bills and a spike in unnecessary use.
Background: Air ambulances used to be owned and operated by hospitals, which sometimes took financial losses on their helicopter programs.
By the numbers: Between 2007 and 2016, the average price charged by one air ambulance company for a transport rose from $13,000 to $50,000.
People in rural areas are hit the hardest. While some of these transports are necessary and life-saving, many others could be avoided, Makary writes.
The other side: Air ambulances say that they have to charge higher rates to commercially insured patients to make up for lower government rates.
The bottom line: "The air ambulance industry has become big business in America," Makary writes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A draft of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's drug pricing plan obtained by Bloomberg Law confirms that she's working on an aggressive proposal that would give the government vast new authority.
Between the lines: The proposal would give Medicare the authority to negotiate the prices of 250 drugs, limit how high these prices could be based on how much other countries pay, and establish harsh penalties for drugmakers who refuse to comply.
Details: Pelosi's plan would...
What we're watching: Whether the White House shows any interest in a plan this aggressive — which would be dead on arrival in a traditional GOP administration.
Congressional candidate Dan McCready shakes a voter's hand last month. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Today's special election in North Carolina for a House seat is ostensibly the first big test of 2020. But its messaging is straight out of 2018, Axios' Sam Baker writes.
Democrat Dan McCready has made health care — and drug prices, specifically — a centerpiece of his advertising and broader pitch to voters as he tries to turn a red district blue.
Our thought bubble, via Sam: This race is about a lot more than just health care. It's a redo from 2018; it's a district Trump won big; and Trump himself campaigned for Bishop last night.
Almost 9 out of 10 hospitalizations for sickle cell disease are for black patients, and most of those patients are younger than 35, new federal data shows.
The big picture: New treatments for sickle cell have been sparse, despite investments in other rare diseases. But Global Blood Therapeutics hopes to roll out a pill next year, pending federal approval, and Bluebird Bio is aiming to get approval for a sickle cell gene therapy by 2022.
Health tech has a long way to go in their quest to actually disrupt the health care system, Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman writes in his latest column.
Why it matters: Splashy health tech announcements are everywhere, but many are more hype than reality, according to a poll conducted for this column.
By the numbers: 70% of the people we surveyed say they've used the internet to research symptoms or learn more about health conditions. And 51% use apps or other tech tools to track their sleep, fitness or diet.
The bottom line: It's time to pay close, serious attention to what is real and what is hype in health tech, Altman writes.
U.S. measles cases have been dropping over the past couple of weeks, with 7 cases reported the week ending Sept. 5, my colleague Eileen Drage O'Reilly reports. Only 2 of those cases were new illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday.
Why it matters: Most cases are in unvaccinated people, whose infections often originated from travelers from countries where "large measles outbreaks are occurring," CDC said.