Trending News Today: Federal Officials Consider Passing DIR Fee Savings to Medicare Beneficiaries

Top news of the day from across the healthcare landscape.

A new study from the CDC and FDA indicated that 1 in 5 adults, or 49 million Americans, used tobacco in 2015, The New York Times reported. Of these individuals, 87% smoked cigarettes, cigars, or a pipe, while the remaining Americans used e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products. Additionally, 9.5 million Americans said that they used 2 or more tobacco products daily. These findings underscore the need for enhanced anti-tobacco efforts, according to the article.

Federal officials are considering a proposal that would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive prescription drug discounts negotiated by insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, according to Kaiser Health News. Medicare beneficiaries have experienced high increases in out-of-pocket costs due to direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees. Proponents of the rule said sharing DIR fee discounts could reduce drug costs and reduce the number of patients accelerating into the Part D donut hole and catastrophic coverage, in which the government is responsible for paying a large majority of drug costs, according to the article.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) sign ups within the first few days of 2018 open enrollment significantly surpassed previous years, which may suggest the marketplace is not crashing, according to The New York Times. Of the 601,462 Americans who enrolled in ACA plans within the first 4 days, 23% were new customers, according to the article. This uptick in enrollment occurred despite attempts to repeal the health law and cuts to funding for outreach efforts.