Good morning. Alzheimer's advocates have been among the attractions awaiting the presidential candidates at the Iowa State Fair, according to Stat.
Today's word count is 847 words, or ~3 minutes.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Hospitals, doctors and medical device companies have successfully lobbied Medicare to abandon a proposed 30% cut in payments for certain surgeries involving heart pumps, my colleague Bob Herman reports.
Why it matters: Regulators attempted to rein in spending on a powerful and well-financed niche, but the industry managed to preserve its payments yet again.
Where it stands: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in April proposed cutting rates for inpatient surgeries with "other heart assist system implants" by almost 30%.
What they said: Many hospital systems, trade groups and surgeons argued that "extensive coding changes" over the past couple years have created billing inaccuracies, and therefore, Medicare should not touch the payments because such a change would be based on flawed data.
Between the lines: This is wash, rinse, repeat in health care, as the industry deluged the federal government with opposition and got what it wanted.
Employers have more power over our health care system than anyone else, and they're getting more creative with how to wield it to lower costs, according to a new survey of large employers.
Why it matters: U.S. health care spending is going to become increasingly unsustainable until employers — which cover a plurality of Americans — decide they've had enough.
Details: The survey reflects 147 large employers covering 15 million people.
Additionally, employers are grappling with how to handle the services that do drive their high costs.
Yes, but: Even with these strategies, costs are still expected to rise by 5%.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
What they found: Maintaining existing requirements would yield health benefits of $4.7 billion in 2030, compared to costs of $3.5 billion.
An influential panel yesterday recommended that doctors screen all adult patients for illicit drug use, a response to the severity of the opioid epidemic and other substance abuse, the NYT reports.
Why it matters: In 2017, a federal survey found that 1 in 10 Americans older than 18 reported using illegal drugs or misusing prescription medication.
Yes, but: The panel, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, didn't extend the recommendation to teenagers.
The big picture: Experts say one of the key holes in our approach to the opioid epidemic is figuring out how to connect patients to treatment after they interact with the medical or criminal justice system.
Go deeper: How to change treatment for opioid addiction
Medicare’s outpatient rule from earlier this month reveals how the federal government is creating a backup plan if a court invalidates major cuts to the 340B drug program, health care attorney Ellyn Sternfield writes in a Mintz blog.
Where it stands: The D.C. Circuit Court temporarily halted the massive reductions to hospitals’ 340B drug payments for 2018 and 2019, and expects to wrap up its review of the case by October, Bob writes.
Yes, but: “If CMS wins at the Court of Appeals, all bets are off,” and hospitals would absorb billions of dollars in retroactive and future pay cuts, Sternfield writes.