Checking Up On Health

By Benita Dodd

Benita Dodd, Vice President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Health Policy Briefs: July 17, 2012

– What’s in a name? Another regulatory slugfest: The Generic Pharmaceutical Association is urging the Federal Drug Administration to apply the same nomenclature standards to biosimilar drugs as is used for generic drugs. In an earlier letter, BIO and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said a biosimilar should not share the name of a biologic product because they are not identical. According to the Kidney Cancer Association, “Biosimilars are sometimes mistakenly called ‘generic’ versions of the original biologic drugs. However, unlike generics, which are virtually identical copies of traditional drugs, biosimilars are not the same as the original biologic medicine.” Source: Blog
– Costly decision: Most voters continue to believe President Obama’s health care law will drive up the cost of health care and increase the federal deficit, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday. Most still favor repeal of the law, too. The national telephone survey shows that 52 percent of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law, with 41 percent who strongly favor it. Forty-two percent are at least somewhat opposed to repeal, with 32 percent who are “strongly opposed.” (To see survey question wording, click here.)
– Drug use growth: The global pharmaceuticals market is forecast to grow by 5-7 percent in 2016, rebounding from an expected 3-4 percent growth this year, according to a report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Annual global drug spending is expected to rise from $956 billion last year to almost $1.2 trillion in 2016. In the United States, it’s predicted to grow at an average of 1-4 percent per year to $35 billion to $45 billion over the next five years. That will be driven by the launch of new drugs for unmet needs and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to the report.
– Big hospitals: Four Georgia hospitals rank among the 50 largest public hospitals in the nation, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.
7. Grady Memorial Hospital— 933 beds
28. Medical Center of Central Georgia (Macon) — 639 beds
35. Gwinnett Medical Center-Lawrenceville — 576 beds
39. Wellstar Kennestone Hospital (Marietta) — 572 beds
At the top of the list is Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, with 1,724 beds.
– Health care delivery: Among the eight things to expect in health care now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the federal health care law constitutional are “care delivery models like no one has ever seen before,” according to Dr. Sanja Saxena, a partner in Booz & Company’s North American Health Practice. Beyond innovative care delivery model ideas spreading across hospitals and health systems, Dr. Saxena predicts an influx of delivery models never before seen, fueled by the need to create lower-cost, high-quality care. Additionally, new players may get into the care delivery game. Drug retailers such as Walgreens and CVS have already begun offering clinical care, and Dr. Saxena predicts similar moves in the future. “Not only will you see models you’ve never seen but new entrants who have different ways of innovating and essentially trying to serve a market the existing players have had difficulty doing in the past,” Dr. Saxena says. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
– Government versus private: It’s no secret that public employees tend to get better benefits than their private-sector counterparts. But according to a new report from the Labor Department, the starkest contrast is in health care. Seventy-three percent of state and local government workers — including 83 percent of full-time workers — receive health benefits through their jobs. In the private sector, barely over half, 51 percent, of all workers get health benefits, and just under two-thirds, 64 percent, of full-time workers do. (The statistics only look at the percentage of workers who receive benefits through their employers, not at how many of them are without health insurance altogether.) Statistically speaking, there are two major reasons for the discrepancy. First, public employees are much more likely to be offered benefits than their private-sector counterparts: 99 percent vs. 86 percent for full-time employees. Second, public employees are much more likely to accept benefits when given the opportunity. Source: Wall Street Journal
– 10 things you didn’t know were in the Affordable Care Act: The federal health law known as ObamaCare isn’t just a mandate to have health insurance. Among others, it requires employers with 50-plus workers to have a break room for lactating moms, education campaigns for breast cancer and for oral health, and a study of postpartum depression. It also revises Medicare payment levels for power-driven wheelchairs and makes it so that only “complex” and “rehabilitative” wheelchairs can be purchased; all others must be rented. Read more at
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