Good morning ... Health care companies reaped tens of billions of dollars from the new tax law, and used it mostly for share buybacks rather than lowering prices or investing in better care, Sen. Ron Wyden said in a report yesterday.
But you read Vitals, so you already knew that. Lucky you!
If health care is supposed to be a dominant theme in this year's midterms, somebody needs to tell cable news. Both health care and taxes have dropped out of the cable conversation now that they're off the front burner in Congress, according to data from GDELT, a service that monitors television news coverage.
Why it matters: Democrats want to campaign against Republicans' efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and Republican incumbents want to campaign on the tax cuts they passed. But at least right now, if you want to talk about anything other than Stormy Daniels, you're going to have to shout awfully loud.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images
Cancer hospitals have been lobbying Medicare to create a new set of enhanced payments for CAR-T cell therapy, Axios’ Bob Herman reports this morning.
The details: CAR-T is a promising but very expensive new treatment that fights cancer cells using patients’ own immune systems. Two CAR-T therapies have been approved; the cheaper one has a list price of $373,000, and the other is $475,000.
The intrigue: Four lobbyists representing cancer hospitals met in February with senior officials, including Demetrios Kouzoukas, a top Medicare director in the Trump administration, to discuss a payment bump for CAR-T.
What’s next: Medicare releases a big regulation each April on inpatient payment policies. That’s expected any day now, and we’ll see whether CAR-T gets an “add-on” payment.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb got the ball rolling yesterday on a new plan to more closely monitor and regulate the safety of medical devices.
Why it matters, via the AP: “The FDA has repeatedly been forced to issue safety alerts about unexpected problems with devices that only appeared years after they were approved for use in patients.”
One big change, per the FDA’s announcement: The agency will be asking Congress for more money and authority to tackle cybersecurity risks associated with implanted devices like pacemakers.
Congress might end up doing more harm than good if it repeals federal rules for substance-abuse treatment, according to an analysis from the liberal Center on Budget & Policy Priorities.
The issue: Under federal law, facilities that treat mental health and substance abuse disorders can’t receive Medicaid funding if they have more than 16 beds. That policy was intended to stop states from warehousing mentally ill patients in institutions that didn’t really offer much treatment.
Yes, but: Repealing the policy would be a step too far, CBPP says.
Syrians seek medical care after a regime bombing last month. Photo: Khaled Akacha/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Syrian civil war has taken a devastating toll on the country's health care system.
Go deeper: Watch the video.
What we're watching today: Sens. Jeff Merkley and Chris Murphy introduce their bill to let people buy into Medicare — an alternative to more ambitious single-payer bills on the left.
House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on HHS biodefense activities.
What we're watching this week: Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday on opioid abuse in Medicare and Medicaid.
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