Good morning … Quick reminder to our Chicago readers to register here to join Mike Allen's Monday conversation with Mayor Rahm Emanuel about innovation and automation.
Employees at Theranos created a game like “Space Invaders” where players shot at a picture of John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal reporter who exposed the company’s false promises and faulty technology.
Carreyrou’s book "Bad Blood" comes out next month and I can’t wait to read it.
The number of new opioid prescriptions is falling while the number of new prescriptions for medication-assisted therapy to treat opioid addictions is slowly starting to rise, according to a new paper by the consulting firm IQVIA.
Why it matters: We've barely scratched the surface when it comes to reversing the opioid epidemic, but both of these statistics are good news. They suggest that providers are cutting back on unnecessary opioid prescriptions, while more people addicted to opioids are on the path to recovery.
The catch: Opioid prescriptions still far outpace treatment prescriptions, and the forefront of the addiction crisis has already shifted from prescription opioids to heroin and illegal synthetic drugs.
Insurance companies have won a technical but significant point in a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the fate of cost-sharing reduction payments, or CSRs.
Why you'll hear about this again: The Justice Department can appeal this decision, and the insurers haven't won their actual legal claim yet. This is a victory for the insurers, but it's an incremental one, and it could be temporary.
Robots! Photo: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images
Google and its parent company, Alphabet, have big plans for the health care world. They’ve already locked down a slew of relevant patents, inked several significant partnerships, and laid the groundwork for an expansion that could reach into insurance as well as the actual practice of medicine.
Threat level: Google’s earlier health care ventures haven’t really taken off; neither have a lot of other tech companies’ efforts to break into health care.
The details: CB Insights has a very thorough report breaking down the key investments from Google and Alphabet, largely through Verily (Alphabet’s health care arm) and DeepMind (an artificial intelligence subsidiary). Per the report:
Health Care Service Corp., the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers in 5 states, pulled in nearly $1.3 billion of profit in 2017 — which included large gains on its ACA plans in the individual market, my colleague Bob Herman reports.
Why it matters: This builds on our previous reporting that many health insurance companies, like HCSC, fared quite well in 2017 despite the political wars in D.C.
Remember when Medicare implemented a new payment system for clinical labs that was expected to slash payments by about $670 million this year? Well, that move is not crippling one of the nation’s largest lab companies, Bob reports.
By the numbers: The operating profit at Quest Diagnostics was $272 million in the first quarter, down just 2.5% from the same period of 2017.
Yes, but: Smaller independent labs are more vulnerable to Medicare cuts than the billion-dollar behemoths. Plus, the cuts are expected to be a lot steeper in 2019 and 2010.
The vague language attached to Congress’ last spending bill has not successfully reopened federal research into gun violence, BuzzFeed News notes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still hasn’t launched any new research into gun safety, a month after Congress hinted such research might be OK.
Refresher: The so-called “Dickey Amendment,” which Congress passed in 1996, prohibits CDC from using any of its money to advocate for gun control. Since that measure passed, CDC has erred on the side of caution and not done any research at all on guns.
The bottom line: “If you want to move the needle you need to remove the Dickey Amendment,” Sen. Chris Murphy told BuzzFeed.
Have a great weekend. And if you have any big health care ideas on your days off, you know where to find me: at email@example.com.