D.C. readers: Join Axios' Bob Herman at 8am ET tomorrow for Beyond 2020: Making Care Affordable.
Today's Vitals is 819 words, ~3 minutes.
Yesterday, I told you about how Coherus's Udenyca — a biosimilar competing against Amgen's Neulasta — will soon be disadvantaged by UnitedHealthcare, the result of Amgen offering United a larger rebate then Coherus.
Why it matters: This is just one example of how the drug industry finds ways to keep biosimilars off the market.
Lawsuits filed by biologics manufacturers also create a hurdle for biosimilars — well before they're in any position to negotiate with insurers.
What they're saying: J&J's "strategy could serve as a blueprint for every brand name biologic drug maker seeking to maintain monopoly power and profits indefinitely in the face of competition from a lower-priced biosimilar," the Biosimilars Council wrote in a court filing in support of Pfizer.
Nonprofit charity R.I.P. Medical Debt, which buys and absolves people’s health care debt in bulk, has wiped away $700 million since its inception in 2014 — and that number should hit $1 billion later this year, co-founders Jerry Ashton and Craig Antico told my colleague Bob Herman.
How it works: R.I.P. Medical Debt rose to fame in 2016 after it helped comedian John Oliver forgive $15 million of medical debt.
What they're saying: "There's no such thing as great health insurance," Ashton said. "If you and I think this paper-thin safety net of insurance is going to save us, that's not going to be the case."
Go deeper: "A drop in the bucket" of medical debt
Hospitals that treat low-income patients won a long-fought victory yesterday at the Supreme Court, and Axios' Sam Baker is on it.
The court threw out Medicare's attempt to cut payment rates for disproportionate share hospitals, which treat a large number of low-income patients.
Why it matters: The ruling itself is a big win for safety-net hospitals, who would have taken a pretty steep pay cut under the change Medicare tried to make.
Photo: Inga Kjer/Photothek via Getty Images
The new issue of Health Affairs is focused on long-term and end-of-life care, and one particular article jumped out as a sort of "Why it matters":
By the numbers: Nearly 15 million Americans act as unpaid caregivers for older patients, often family — and spouses, especially, often have to go it alone.
"Solo caregiving was also common among spouses of people with dementia in the last years of life, despite the fact that dementia caregiving poses unique difficulties … especially toward the end of life," the authors write.
Silver lining: Among people whose spouse had recently died, people who had been solo caregivers at the end of their spouse's life were no more prone to depression than people who had help.
Go deeper: The unofficial health care system
An "unauthorized user" at the collections firm American Medical Collection Agency may have accessed information on 11.9 million Quest Diagnostics patients, according to a securities filing by Quest, my colleague Joe Uchill reports.
Why it matters: Quest Diagnostics is a major national provider of lab work, and the information stored by AMCA included "financial information (e.g., credit card numbers and bank account information), medical information and other personal information (e.g., Social Security Numbers)," according to the filing.