Good morning. I regret to inform you that I am back from vacation, which means that you will no longer have Sam's intros hitting your mailbox. I vow to do a better job finding useless tidbits of information to spice up your morning, although I am not nearly as funny, snarky or active on Twitter as he is.
Today's word count is 877, or ~3 minutes.
President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The Trump administration released 3 proposed rules yesterday that would shine a light on how hospitals negotiate with health insurers and further cut payment rates for some doctor services, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
The big picture: The long-debated policy is now here — hospitals have to start publishing their negotiated payment rates with every commercial insurer for at least 300 services or face a maximum fine of $300 per day. (Read the rule.)
What they're saying: "Disclosing the negotiated rate between insurers and hospitals will not help patients make decisions about their care. Instead, this disclosure could harm patients by reducing patient access to care," several hospital groups said in a statement.
Medicare’s kidney care rule: Medicare expects to dish out $11.1 billion in dialysis-related payments in 2020, $210 million higher than what is expected this year.
The bottom line: Some of the most dramatic health policy changes don’t happen in Congress. They happen in these annual payment rules from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Mylan is combining with the off-patent drug business owned by Pfizer, creating a merged company of prescription drugs that have seen steep price increases and face a ton of generic competition, Bob writes.
The big picture: Mylan and Pfizer are combining for different reasons, and the benefit to patients is unclear.
Bob's thought bubble: The deal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, will create a profitable company with $20 billion of annual revenue.
As a safety-net hospital in downtown Philadelphia prepares to close, there's some speculation that the value of the land that it's on was a factor in the decision to file bankruptcy, CNN reports.
The big picture: Similar scenarios have already played out when private equity firms have bought struggling retail and grocery stores only to profit from the real estate.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced yesterday 4 settlements with generic drug companies — including a $69 million payment from Teva — over allegations that they colluded to delay competition.
Yes, but: There have been a lot of headlines about bad behavior by generic companies. But the industry overall is delivering savings to patients.
Aetna will now cover Zolgensma — a $2.1 million one-time treatment for spinal muscular atrophy — for kids up to 2 years old, Business Insider reports. It previously was covering the treatment only for children younger than 9 months.
What we're watching: Zolgensma is the first of many million-dollar-plus drugs that the health system will have to figure out how to pay for — and who will receive it.
Let me know what I missed while on vacation (and what's going on now) at firstname.lastname@example.org.