Trending News Today: How to Expand Access to Health Care

Top news from around the health care landscape.

A recent study revealed a correlation between physicians who receive a meal paid for by a pharmaceutical company and the increased likelihood of prescribing that manufacturer’s promotional drug instead of using drugs that were equivalent and cheaper, reported The Washington Post. The study found that the higher the price or the amount of meals received, the greater the rate of prescribing for the pitched drug. “The consequences are this is distorting health care spending in a way that is large and unnecessary,” researcher Jerry Avorn said in the report. Overall, the study found that the meals paid for on the company’s tab were modest and averaged less than $20.

On Monday, the federal government declined a petition to reduce the high price tag of Xtandi for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, reported The New York Times. NIH Director Francis Collins, said there was no justification for allowing a generic drug manufacturer to produce Xtandi because there is no shortage of it. Xtandi costs $129,000 yearly and, according to Knowledge Ecology International and the Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment, this price amounts to $88.48 per pill, an amount that is 2 to 4 times the price in other wealthy countries. “Price discrimination against US residents is not consistent with making the product 'available to the public on reasonable terms,' as required by the Bayh-Dole Act,” wrote Knowledge Ecology. The group plans to appeal the decision to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell.

Through a working group of high-level voices, Politico looked at the changes in the scope of medical practice to identify trends and policy options around that scope, in addition to detecting changes that are starting to occur because of new health care delivery models. According to Politico, a majority of participants believe that broadening the scope of practice is something that is necessary and inevitable because of the direction the health care system is moving to. There was not complete agreement in all areas of the policy agenda, but there was a considerable amount of participants who agreed on several proposals, including: encouragement of primary care providers to take part in Medicaid and that the programs should raise reimbursement for NPs to match primary care physicians; Medicare should allow PAs to have an ongoing role in patients who enter hospice as physicians do; public and private payers allowing NPs and PAs more freedom in ordering supplies; allowing billing for behavioral and mental health on the same day; and that Medicare should expand reimbursement of telemedicine.