Delayed Research, Lost Opportunities
What opportunities are lost from delayed research?
ModernHealthcare.com recently considered the implications of delayed research for a vaccine for Zika virus. Thus far, Congress has been unable to agree on a spending plan for Zika, leaving the development of a vaccine entirely in the hands of the private sector. That’s likely to have long term consequences.
Many epidemiologists are drawing comparisons between the outbreak of Zika virus and the spread of rubella in the mid-1960s. A similar scenario for Zika virus, according to an estimate by the World Bank would cost the world $3.5 billion per year.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the one-year rubella epidemic cost the country an estimated $840 million, which is equivalent to about $6.5 billion today,” reports ModernHealthcare.com. “There was a benefit-to-cost ratio of nearly eight to one. The costs included public and private vaccination programs and adverse reactions requiring medical attention. The cost savings were in fewer long-term consequences of congenital rubella syndrome.”
The delay in congressional funding is only one of the concerns. Regulations and the high cost of developing new treatments are likely to slow down innovation compared to past outbreaks.
“In the 1960s, consent to participate in drug clinical trials was given on a relatively small, simple form and testing could be done on a larger population. Today, the Federal Drug Administration’s vaccine guidance alone is 13 pages long. The process is estimated to take up to 10 years,” ModernHealthcare.com reports.
State Spotlight: Iowa’s Rate Hikes
Iowan are sounding off on the looming double-digit health insurance premium hikes in 2017.
The biggest insurers are looking to raise premiums by as much as 43 percent. According to the Des Moines Register, “Wellmark has told 30,000 customers it plans to raise their premiums by an average of 38 to 43 percent next year. Coventry has told 37,000 Iowans that it plans to raise their premiums by about 23 percent. The Gundersen and Medica plans affect a total of a few thousand Iowans.”
“I think they should change the name to the Unaffordable, Don’t Care Act,” Robb Vannoy, an Iowan whose premiums are expected to rise from $15,000 to $19,000, told the Des Moines Register.
A forty-three percent premium increase is unacceptable. Patients simply can’t afford to pay such a massive increase.
First Do No Harm
Some rehabilitation hospitals are breaking the first rule of medicine.
A new report by the office of the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that “29 percent of patients in rehab facilities suffered a medication error, bedsore, infection or some other type of harm as a result of the care they received.”
“This is the latest study over a long time period now that says we still have high rates of harm,” says Dr. David Classen, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah School of Medicine who developed the analytic tool used in the report to identify the harm to patients. “We’re fooling ourselves if we say we have made improvement. If the first rule of health care is ‘Do no harm,’ then we’re failing.”
After reviewing more than four hundred patients’ cases, inspectors found that half of the incidents “were clearly or likely preventable,” NPR reports on the findings. The errors resulted in longer stays, more dependence on care and even permanent disability.
“It is a domino effect for any person who has had an adverse event,” Lisa McGiffert, director of the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project, told NPR.
Expect to see more of these troubling reports as insurance companies and government agencies move to adopt new cost-cutting measures. It’s short-sighted and wrong. Set aside the gross violation of medical ethics — and the long-term suffering imposed on patients — these preventable problems drive up the costs of health care. The most cost effective option is to get the right treatment to the right patient — right when they need it.
July 27 Webinar: Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act
Why are cancer patients forced to pay more for self-administered chemotherapy treatments?
On Wednesday, July 27, the Lymphoma Education and Advocacy Partners will host a webinar updating patients on the fight for cancer drug parity. That’s the effort to guarantee fairness in our insurance coverage.
Right now, patients are charged more to receive oral cancer therapy than if they receive the same treatment via an IV. The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act would correct this imbalance. If passed, any health plan that provides coverage for cancer chemotherapy treatment would be required to provide coverage for self-administered anticancer medication at a cost no less favorable than the cost of IV, port administered, or injected anticancer medications.
Lymphoma Education and Advocacy Partners Webinar
- Date: Wednesday, July 27, 2016
- Time: 1-2pm ET
- Topic: Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act
- Representatives Leonard Lance (NJ-7) and Brian Higgins (NY-26) on the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act (HR 2739); Jonathan E. Friedberg, MD, MMSc of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester.