Healthcare Roundup—Dignity Health creates specialty pharmacy joint venture

Dignity Health
Dignity Health announced on Tuesday that it had formed a new joint venture with Massachusetts-based Shields Health Solutions called Dignity Health Specialty Pharmacy. (Dignity Health)

Dignity Health is getting into the specialty drug business

In a bid to better control costs and improve patient outcomes through better adherence, nonprofit health system Dignity Health announced on Tuesday that it had formed a new joint venture with Massachusetts-based Shields Health Solutions called Dignity Health Specialty Pharmacy.

“As we look to the future of how healthcare is delivered across the U.S., it is clear that the continuum of care must extend beyond the doctor/patient relationship when treating complex disease states,” said Peggy Sanborn, VP of strategic growth, M&A, and partnership integration at Dignity Health.

Dignity's first hospital-based specialty pharmacy will be located at the St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center campus in Phoenix and will serve as a centralized hub supporting all Dignity Health locations. They expect to scale up to 10 community pharmacies in the next year and ultimately take it systemwide, Sanborn said. 

It's touching on a crucial driver of prescription drug costs. The use of specialty drugs is increasing by about 17% per year and makes up 50% of total spending on prescription drugs. And since 1990, the number of specialty drugs available has increased from 10 to 300, with another 700 in the pipeline. (Release)

Illinois sues for reversal of required $145M in repayments

Illinois is suing the federal government over an order to repay $145 million in reimbursements for Medicaid payments at two Chicago hospitals. In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) required the Illinois Department of Healthcare and  Family Services to repay $140 million in reimbursements to the University of Illinois Hospital and $4.5 million to Mount Sinai Hospital. 

The payments were made over a four-year period, 1996 to 2000, and the state is being accused of not following standards for the Illinois Medicaid plan when calculating hospital-specific payments. 

To cover the disputed payments, CMS is collecting $20 million per quarter from the state, plus interest. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

New Jersey governor says he will sign law to allow medical aid-in-dying

New Jersey will become the latest state to allow medical aid-in-dying, as Gov. Phil Murphy said he will sign a bill to allow terminally ill patients to seek life-ending medication.

In a statement on Monday, Murphy said he will sign the legislation. “Allowing terminally ill and dying residents the dignity to make end-of-life decisions according to their own consciences is the right thing to do,” he said.

Once the bill is signed, New Jersey will join the District of Columbia and seven other states that have similar laws. The state’s Assembly and Senate passed the measure in close votes that will allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take to end their lives. (Statement)