The Daily Rise: Thursday, July 14

Health Care: 20% of Economy

Health care will continue to grow in economic importance.

By 2025, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Office of the Actuary predicts health care will make up 20 percent of the country’s economy. If that sounds like a mind-boggling figure, realize that as of 2014, it accounts for 17.5 percent of our economy.

Over the next decade, the annual growth rate of health care expenditures will decline to 5.8 percent through 2025. That’s an improvement compared to the last two decades, when health care expenditures increased at an 8 percent annual average growth rate.

CMS officials are quick to credit the Affordable Care Act for the leveling off in health care costs.

“The Affordable Care Act continues to help keep overall health spending growth at a modest level and at a lower growth rate than the previous two decades,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “This progress is occurring while also helping more Americans get coverage, often for the first time.”

From our perspective, we need to do a better job of strengthening the patient’s voice. With one in every five dollars spent on health care, patients need a seat at the table to ensure that the right treatment reaches the right patient.

Affordable Care Act: Co-Op Closures

CMS officials may credit the Affordable Care Act with blunting rising health care costs, but it hasn’t yielded positive results for health care co-ops.

Kaiser Health News reports that fewer than a third of ACA co-ops will still be open for business this fall. As we start Year 4 of health care enrollment, just seven non-profit member-run health plans remain in existence. This week, Illinois shut down the Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co. As of last year, roughly 1 million patients were enrolled in a co-op. This year, that number will drop to 350,000.

A top Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services official is defending the co-ops against congressional critics who’ve labeled the program a failure.

“This is a tough industry, as you very well know. It’s very tough to be a small business, and it’s tough to be a small health insurance company,” Kevin Counihan, the CEO of HealthCare.Gov, told a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reforms. “We’re doing everything that we can to collaborate with the state departments of insurance and with the co-ops to make them successful.”

FDA Approval: Amgen Biosimilar

Patients with inflammatory diseases could soon have a new treatment option.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration’s Arthritis Advisory Committee granted unanimous support for Amgen’s biosimilar (adalimumab) used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. The non-binding vote helps pave the way for full FDA approval.

“For years, biotech drugs faced no competition because there was no regulatory way to approve copycat versions, even after patents had expired,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “If approved, Amgen’s drug would join a new wave of so-called biosimilars, which have the potential to generate billions in savings for U.S. insurers, doctors and patients.”

Get Checked: Importance of Proper Monitoring

Remission isn’t the only concern for cancer patients.

One in 12 cancer patients is likely to develop a second, unrelated cancer, say UCLA researchers. After reviewing data for more than 2.1 million patients from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database, researchers found 8 percent of patients developed secondary cancers. The study found that bladder cancer patients had the highest risk of developing a second malignancy — most often lung cancer, according to the study published in the journal Cancer.

“As clinicians, we can become so focused on surveilling our patients to see if a primary cancer recurs that we sometimes may not be aware that patients can be at risk of developing a second, unrelated cancer,” said Dr. Karim Chamie, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

This study is a great reminder of the importance of getting adequate monitoring. Based on their findings, UCLA researchers suggest that bladder cancer patients receive a second annual screening for lung cancer.

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