Physician Practice Roundup—25 physician and patient groups urge CMS to implement proposed step therapy safeguards

Young female doctor sitting at desk in front of computer covering face with hand in frustration
Physician and patient groups want to see patient protections in place for step therapy. (Getty Images/PRImageFactory)

25 physician and patient groups urge CMS to implement proposed step therapy safeguards

In a letter sent yesterday, 25 physician and patient groups urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to immediately implement proposed step therapy safeguards to protect patient access to needed treatments.

The coalition, led by the American College of Rheumatology, also urged CMS to provide additional protections for patients. The coalition said CMS should immediately add patient safeguards that are part of its proposal allowing Medicare Advantage plans to use step therapy for Part B drugs.

The safeguards are set to take effect in 2020, but the groups urged CMS to immediately publish guidance to insurance plans that would provide protections in 2019. “The proposed guardrails would not go into effect until 2020, leaving vulnerable patients from harmful step therapy practices. For patients with severe or complex diseases, this can result in irreversible damage, disability and even death,” the groups wrote in the letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma. (Coalition letter (PDF))

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‘Comics’ help patients understand complex health information, study finds

It isn’t always easy for doctors to make sure patients understand the rationale, procedural details and potential risks involved in a medical procedure.

Now a new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, finds that what researchers call medical graphic narratives or “comics” may help communicate complex health information more clearly. The researchers randomly assigned patients to receive an official consent form and have a conversation with a physician before undergoing cardiac catheterization. A group of patients also received a “comic” that further explained the procedure.

Those who received the medical graphic scored higher on a test that measured their knowledge about details of the procedure and were more likely to report they felt well prepared for the procedure. (Annals of Internal Medicine study)

CDC says measles cases continue to grow, reported in four more states

For the second week in a row, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported dozens of new cases of measles.

The CDC released data indicating that 465 cases of measles have been confirmed in 19 states in 2019. That is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was “eliminated” in the U.S. in 2000.

The number of measles cases climbed by 78 during the first week of April, with four more states reporting their first cases of 2019—Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts and Nevada. (CDC report)

CMMI's Adam Boehler: 'Now is the time' to bring post-acute care bundle ideas

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Trump Administration is eyeing the concept of creating post-acute care bundles, the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' innovation arm told an audience at the American Hospital Association conference on Monday.

"Now is the time to bring us ideas there. We're really in listening mode," said Adam Boehler, director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). "I think there's been a lot of intrigue and interest we've heard from people. So we're gathering stakeholder input there on that and it's a great time to give us thoughts on where we can lower costs." 

On Monday, Boehler also told the crowd of hospital industry experts that, in the near term, they should expect to see more changes to compensation in the primary care space.

"For those of you that have employed doc groups, I think there might be more opportunities for primary care physicians to engage in a positive way," Boehler said. (FierceHealthcare)

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