The Daily Rise: Thursday, March 24

State Spotlight: Insurers Fail MA Patients

The Boston Globe’s Felice J. Freyer uncovers a disturbing reality for residents of Massachusetts: they’re unable to access care when they need it.

“Nearly all Massachusetts adults have health insurance, but being insured is no guarantee patients can afford health care or even find someone to provide it,” the Globe reports, based on a survey by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

Massachusetts is an important bellwether for the rest of the country because it’s the model for the federal Affordable Care Act. According to the survey:

  • More than one-third of adults younger than 65 reported going without needed health care despite having insurance.
  • Nearly half had trouble getting access to a health-care professional.
  • One-fifth struggled to pay family medical bills or medical debts from previous years.

“If you have low income, it’s harder to find providers who accept your type of coverage,” said Audrey Shelto, president of the Blue Cross Foundation. “If you have a chronic condition, the array of services you need are much more complex and numerous.”

These survey findings underscore why we need to refocus the health care debate about our end goals for health care. As patients in Massachusetts are sadly learning,  health insurance isn’t a goal unto itself. It’s only a means to the end goal of obtaining the right treatment.

Innovation in Action: FDA Approval

Peggy Peck, editor-in-chief of MedPage Today, shares the announcement that the FDA has granted approval for a new treatment for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis in adults.

Ixekizumab, an immune modulator developed by Eli Lilly and Company, “binds to interleukin 17-A to block inflammation, which is a hallmark of plaque psoriasis.”

“Today’s approval provides patients suffering from plaque psoriasis with another important treatment option to help relieve the skin irritation and discomfort from the condition,” said Julie Beitz, M.D., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The treatment was developed after three randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of 3,866 participants. Innovation in action.

Blog Spotlight: Patients First

As part of our ongoing effort to share blogs by and for patients, we shine today’s Blog Spotlight on Patients First.

Published by Dr. Rafael Fonseca, Patients First is “a blog about self-determination, freedom and a libertarian-objectivist perspective of medicine.” For a taste of what that means, we share a recent post that analyzes the debate over treatment options for relapse or refractory multiple myeloma. Recently, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review has taken direct aim at treatment pricing for myeloma patients. Fonseca explains that “in myeloma choosing one therapy does not mean an alternative is forgone but rather that its use is being reserved for later.”

“ICER proposes an analysis of the “health and economic benefits” of therapies for relapsed and refractory myeloma,” he explains. “The analysis as presented suffers from many methodological limitations that will make its real world applicability impossible… Perhaps most importantly patients and patient support organizations should vigorously fight the incorrect application of its conclusions.”

Survey Says…

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, which tracks the public’s opinions on health care, is out with their March 2016 findings.

Overall, health care remains important to most voters, but jobs and the economy remain the public’s top priority.  There was a slight difference between Republicans and Democrats about the importance of health care. Health Care is More Important to Democrats

  • 43 percent of Democrats rate health care is ‘extremely important’ to their vote for President
  • 30 percent of independents rate health care is ‘extremely important’ to their vote for President
  • 37 percent of Republicans rate health care is ‘extremely important’ to their vote for President

Unfortunately, many Americans remain priced out of the health insurance market. According to the survey, “Health care costs remain on the forefront of the minds of both the uninsured and insured voters, with nearly half of uninsured Americans saying that cost is the main reason they haven’t gotten health insurance.”

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