Situational awareness: Yesterday I started listening to the podcast "Dr. Death" and man, is it good.
There's been an explosion in spending on specialty drugs within Medicare's prescription drug benefit over the past decade, and it may be warping insurers' incentives to keep overall costs down.
The bottom line: A single expensive prescription now sends hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries straight into the benefit's "catastrophic phase," where the government picks up most of the tab and insurers have little incentive to manage costs.
By the numbers: In 2007, only 6% of Part D spending was on specialty drugs. By 2017, they accounted for 25% of spending, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's 2019 report.
Once a beneficiary reaches the catastrophic phase, the government covers 80% of their prescription drug costs. The insurer pays 15% and the enrollee pays 5%.
The big picture: Prescription drug spending is increasingly driven by specialty drugs, a trend that isn't going to change anytime soon.
Photo: Michael Nagle/Getty Images
The Food and Drug Administration yesterday cleared Philip Morris' iQOS, a new tobacco device designed as an alternative to traditional cigarettes — an announcement that falls smack-dab in the middle of a swelling push to control the fallout from another cigarette alternative.
Yes, but: The FDA said that it has put strict marketing rules in place to prevent youth use of the device.
Related: Also yesterday, a bipartisan group of both House and Senate members introduced a bill to raise the federal smoking age to 21.
The same obstacles that medical students face on their path to becoming doctors — the years of education, the long, brutal hours, the six-figure debt — also make medical school a place rife with sexual misconduct, Bloomberg reports.
The bottom line: "If you're working at a company and you're harassed by the boss, you can just quit and get another job," Philadelphia attorney Patrick Griffin told Bloomberg.
Gary Newsome, the former CEO of Health Management Associates, who left the hospital company to lead a Mormon mission in South America, is set to pay the federal government almost $3.5 million out of his own pocket.
Why it matters: This is another scar in a disastrous sequence of events for what used to be one of the largest for-profit hospital chains in the country.
Facebook announced yesterday that it's creating health support groups where users will be able to ask administrators to post questions on their behalf, Stat News reports.
Our thought bubble, via Axios tech editor Scott Rosenberg: Facebook's "pivot to privacy" has a long way to go to persuade users that the social network is a safe place to share their information.
— Correction: An earlier version of this newsletter said McConnell has introduced a bill to raise the federal age limit for buying tobacco. He has announced that proposal but has not yet introduced it as a bill.
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