Category Archives: Uncategorized

Health Policy Updates: September 16 2017

There were a couple of great articles in JAMA Internal Medicine this week on cancer drug development and pricing.

The first, discussed in this NYTimes article, did a thorough job of tallying the total R&D cost to bring a new cancer drug to market. The study authors ended up with a significantly lower number than has been reported in the past.

“Following approval, the 10 drugs together brought in $67 billion, the researchers also concluded — a more than sevenfold return on investment. Nine out of 10 companies made money, but revenues varied enormously. One drug had not yet earned back its development costs.”

Continue reading Health Policy Updates: September 16 2017

Health Policy Updates: May 14 2016

It was deja vu all over again, when a federal court judge laid down a ruling that (if it ultimately stands) would be a severe blow to the ACA/Obamacare.

What was the legal question this time? Apparently, the ACA cannot spend money to subsidize health insurance (all of the reduced-price insurance plans on the health care exchanges) without first having appropriated the money through Congress. Read more, from Sarah Kliff at Vox, here.

“This victory in Washington isn’t the final word on the lawsuit. But it does allow it to move forward, and means that the legal battle over Obamacare — one that has already included four Supreme Court cases — still isn’t over yet.”


Hillary Clinton made the health policy news this week for new statements regarding her ideas for new health care legislation. In contrast to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” single-payer type of plan, her new proposal for expanding health insurance coverage is being characterized as “Medicare for More.”

“The Medicare program covers Americans once they reach 65. Beneficiaries pay premiums to help cover the cost of their coverage, but the government pays the bulk of the bill. Mrs. Clinton’s suggestion was that perhaps younger Americans, ‘people 55 or 50 and up,’ could voluntarily pay to join the program.” Continue reading Health Policy Updates: May 14 2016

Health Policy Updates: April 3 2016

Ongoing indications that enrollees into the ACA/Obamacare insurance plans tend to be sicker than people who obtain similar health plans through their employers. Which makes sense, when you think about the demographics of the employed vs unemployed, the insured vs uninsured, or those able to afford health insurance vs those who can’t. Though we haven’t seen signs of it yet, sicker-than-average people joining health insurance groups is potentially an ingredient for the “death spiral” of increasing health insurance costs. Continue reading Health Policy Updates: April 3 2016

Health Policy Updates: December 26 2015

The ACA’s Cadillac Tax has been officially delayed by the recent federal budget deal. This provision of the law had intended to serve the dual purposes of generating revenue and controlling health care costs over the long term by de-incentivizing overly expensive health insurance.

Proponents of the tax, including many economists, see it as a much-needed brake on health care spending. But business and labor joined forces to oppose it. The budget deal delayed it two years, and its future is in doubt. Continue reading Health Policy Updates: December 26 2015