Good morning. Bad news for you if you vape: Your life insurance might be getting more expensive, Bloomberg reports.
Today's word count is 879, or ~3 minutes.
Doctors are at the center of changes to self-referral and anti-kickback laws. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The Trump administration is proposing to loosen regulations that prohibit doctors from steering patients insured by federal programs to facilities where they have a financial interest and which outlaw health care companies from offering bribes and kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals.
Why it matters: The industry has long clamored for an overhaul to these laws, which companies say obstruct their goals of providing "value-based care." But critics worry the broad and vague changes could engender more fraud and abuse than there already is, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Driving the news: The Department of Health and Human Services would create new exemptions for the physician self-referral law and the federal anti-kickback statute — decades-old, complex laws that forbid payments that encourage unnecessary care and increase taxpayer costs.
Between the lines: The overarching concern is everyone's definition of "value" is different. How will regulators know whether providers are acting in good faith to coordinate care, or if they are using "value-based care" as a cover to control patient referrals and enrich themselves?
A major exclusion: Pharmaceutical companies, medical device firms, labs and medical equipment makers are cut out from the changes because the federal government is afraid those companies would "misuse the proposed safe harbors."
The first ultra-personalized drug — made for one patient, the only one who will ever take it — is raising all kinds of new questions about how to handle a scenario that's likely to only become more common, the New York Times reports.
Driving the news: The drug, described yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, treats the neurological disorder of an 8-year-old girl.
The big picture: This raises huge questions about how to regulate this kind of extreme precision medicine, who should get it and who should pay for it.
The bottom line: We now have no choice but to answer these kinds of questions as they play out in real life. Ultra-precision medicine is no longer only theoretical.
Almost three-quarters of likely 2020 voters support banning flavored vaping products, according to a new survey by Schoen Consulting, commissioned by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Why it matters: Some Republicans have warned that President's Trump's proposed ban on flavors could anger vapers and risk his 2020 chances, as my colleague Alayna Treene has reported.
By the numbers: The administration's proposal is supported by 77% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans and 70% of Independents, per the survey.
Protestors outside of Purdue Pharma's headquarters last month. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images
Purdue Pharma has to resolve ongoing inquiries with the Justice Department before finalizing its plan to enter bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing the newly released terms of the settlement.
Purdue's bankruptcy plan, and its proposed settlement to resolve the national opioids lawsuit, are already facing resistance from state and local governments, Axios' Sam Baker notes.
What's next: Purdue will be back in bankruptcy court Friday to ask for a pause in the ongoing litigation.
Health insurers continue to see Medicare Advantage as a lucrative business, especially as aging baby boomers have propelled enrollment to about 22 million people, Bloomberg reports.
Why it matters: Health insurers and the Trump administration are working fast to sign people up for the private Medicare plans instead of traditional Medicare. And the president's executive order last week aims to keep funneling even more people toward Medicare Advantage over time, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
By the numbers: About a third of all Medicare enrollees are in Medicare Advantage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
What to watch: The share of traditional Medicare enrollees is decreasing, and it's predicted more than half of Medicare members will be in private plans by 2025, Bloomberg reports. The enrollment period opens Oct. 15.