Trending News Today: New Anthem Policy Directs Outpatient Enrollees to Independent Imaging Centers

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

A nonprofit group wants manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to post warnings about a cancer-causing chemical found in coffee that is a natural byproduct of the roasting process, according to CNBC. Acrylamide is a carcinogen found in cooked foods, and although the coffee industry acknowledges the presence of the chemical in coffee, it argues that the levels are harmless and do not outweigh the benefits. The long-running lawsuit, which has been in the courts since 2010, claims Starbucks and approximately 90 other companies failed to follow state law that requires warning signs about hazardous chemicals. Two years ago, coffee companies lost the first round of the case and are currently presenting their last defense in a Los Angeles courtroom, CNBC reported.

In a continued effort to slow the distribution of illegal drugs through international mail facilities, the FDA said it targeted more than 500 rogue online pharmacies unlawfully distributing illicit drugs, including counterfeit medications and controlled substances. According to The Washington Post, the crackdown was part of the global operation Pangea X, led by the international police organization Interpol, and is designed to identify illegal distributors annually. This year, regulatory officials, police, and customs from 123 countries joined forces to seize millions of doses of dietary, supplements, painkillers, epilepsy medication, erectile dysfunction pills, and antipsychotic medication. The FDA targeted websites illegally selling opioids online and shipping them throughout the United States. According to the Post, the FDA sent 13 warning letters to operators of more than 400 websites. Nearly 100 domain names were seized.

Insurance giant Anthem said it will now direct a majority of outpatients needing MRIs or CT scans to independent imaging centers, according to Kaiser Health News. Anthem said the change in policy is designed to provide high-quality, safe care while reducing medical costs. Communications Director Lori McLaughlin said the new policy applies to 4.5 million enrollees in individual and group plans in 13 states. Furthermore, it could save Anthem enrollees hundreds of dollars. Critics argue the rule will only lead to fragmented care for patients. Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog Group, told KHN, “To achieve true value, you have to have high-quality care at good prices. Anthem would be better off judging the quality of these [imaging] diagnoses.”

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