Situational awareness: Around $150 billion of market value was wiped out of the S&P 500's health care index this week, Bloomberg reports.
Taxpayers are picking up more and more of the tab for Medicare's prescription drug coverage, because more seniors are racking up bills big enough to enter the program's "catastrophic phase," where government subsides are the highest.
How it works: Medicare Part D has a ridiculously complicated financing structure, with different parties responsible for varying portions of each patient's bill throughout the year.
What they're saying: "The insurer is basically off the hook" once patients reach the catastrophic phase, said Doug Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum.
Yes, but: There's no government-funded safety net in private insurance, but even in that market, insurers aren't always able to negotiate lower prices.
Insurers will still be allowed to "silver load" on the individual market next year, the Trump administration announced yesterday.
The administration's rule does allow insurers to use "copay accumulators," which exclude drug manufacturer cost-sharing assistance from counting toward patients' out-of-pocket maximums.
Drug companies are making good on their vow to post their prices online, part of an attempt to keep the Trump administration from imposing even more stringent rules on price transparency, Bloomberg reports.
Key quote: “If your aim is transparency, those prices need to be upfront and not require additional action from the patient,” Connecture's Jim Yocum told Bloomberg.
States and the federal government paid health insurance companies $307 billion in 2018 to run Medicaid programs, according to the latest numbers obtained by consultancy Health Management Associates.
The big picture: This shift has occurred, and will continue, because more states are privatizing their Medicaid programs and because the ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility to more low-income people. However, costs and quality concerns linger over Medicaid managed care.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced yesterday that he's planning to introduce a bill that would raise the legal smoking age to 21, adding momentum to an already-growing effort.
My thought bubble: McConnell isn't the first Republican to support this, but he's ahead of most of the party and has more power when it comes to making new law than the rest of the early GOP supporters combined.
Happy Friday! Congrats to all of us for making it through the week.