Situational awareness: The short-term government funding bill passed yesterday in the House delays $4 billion in cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals, Modern Healthcare reports.
Today's word count is 911 words, or <4 minutes.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Even the most ambitious Democratic-controlled states have ended up with new health plans that are much more moderate than anything being proposed by Democratic presidential candidates — or even what was initially proposed in their states.
Why it matters: States are significantly more limited in their authority than the federal government, but the efforts of Colorado, Washington and California show just how hard massive health care disruption is.
Driving the news: Colorado state agencies last week released their final proposal for the state's public option, which is scheduled to become available in 2022.
The big picture: Colorado's situation — along with other states' — provides a real-world contrast with some Democrats' plans to eliminate private insurance and slash provider payment rates.
What they're saying: "As much as there was a whole lot of energy behind more government intervention in health care after the 2018 election, I think that energy ran smack into some practical issues," Georgetown's Sabrina Corlette said.
The first two patients to receive CRISPR-based treatments for their blood disorders benefited from the therapy, the two companies developing the treatment announced yesterday — a sign that gene editing may be a safe and effective way to cure the diseases, STAT reports.
Why it matters: The two blood disorders, sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia, can have a drastic impact on patients' lives. A cure would be transformative.
Details: The two patients have been free from blood transfusions and disease symptoms for a relatively short period of time, and have experienced only short-term, treatable side effects.
The big picture: CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the companies developing the treatment, aren't the only ones actively looking for new treatments for these blood disorders.
"For decades, we knew about the sickle cell disease mutation but we didn’t know about other genes [involved in the disease] and we didn’t have the necessary tools for genetic correction” of cells, Mitchell Weiss of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital told STAT.
Go deeper: Genetic technology's double-edged sword
Eleven biopharmaceutical companies have filed for bankruptcy so far in 2019, the most in a single year within the past decade, according to a new series from BioPharma Dive.
Why it matters: It’s rare for biotechs to go under because they have so much access to extra funding. But more firms have hit dead ends, Axios' Bob Herman writes.
Between the lines: The reasons for the biotech bankruptcies run the gamut, but in general, all of the companies burn cash at a high rate.
Why you'll hear about this again: "You're probably going to see more of these situations going forward, where a company is preclinical, went public and is left on their own and has to raise additional money from the public markets, and they flounder," the CEO of a bankrupt biotech firm told BioPharma Dive.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Some of the researchers who helped develop a new heart-failure drug are criticizing its high price, Bloomberg reports.
The intrigue: Pfizer, which makes the drug, says that it's targeted at a small population, justifying the high price. But critics say that the condition isn't that rare, setting up Pfizer to reap in a fortune from the medication.
Between the lines: "While criticism of drugmakers by patients and politicians is common, it's far rarer for academics who helped lead development of a therapy to turn into antagonists of the same company that funded the research," Bloomberg's Emma Court writes.
The other side: Pfizer said the cost is appropriate and that it may be reduced if the drug is more widely used than expected.
A government nursing home database has begun flagging those recently cited for abuse or neglect, the Wall Street Journal reports.
By the numbers: Of the 15,262 facilities in the database, 760 — or about 5% — have been flagged with a red icon.
What they're saying: Nursing home industry executives said the marks were misleading and could damage facilities' reputations, while consumer advocates pointed out that many cases of abuse go undiscovered or unreported.
Editor's note: The second item has been corrected to show that Bluebird Bio's gene therapy for beta thalassemia was approved in Europe this year. (Not last year.)