Trending News Today: States Move to Lower Hemophilia Treatment Costs

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

The high cost of hemophilia drugs cause many patients who are unable to afford treatment to turn to Medicaid. As a result, many states are exploring different options to manage treatment costs for the condition, according to Kaiser Health News. The hemophilia drug market, which treats approximately 20,000 patients, generates $4.6 billion a year, according to the report. One-third of these patients are covered through Medicaid, which paid approximately $353 million for the most commonly prescribed blood-clotting medication Advate, KHN noted. “We do a really aggressive job of collecting rebates on our pharmacy costs,” Jennifer Kent, director of the California Department of Health Care Services, told KHN. “But there’s just not any way around blood factor. It is just a very, very expensive product. It’s nonnegotiable for people that require it.”

On Monday, the Trump administration approved a Medicaid work requirement in Arkansas but deferred a decision on whether to roll back the state’s Medicaid expansion, which added 300,000 adults to the program, according to Kaiser Health News. Arkansas previously covered individuals with incomes less than 138% of the poverty level, but the new policy would cut the number of Medicaid-eligible people in the state by approximately 60,000. US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma recused herself from similar decisions in Indiana and Kentucky due to consulting with Medicaid agencies in those states prior to joining the Trump administration in 2017. However, the report noted she also worked with Arkansas, but still personally approved the Arkansas waiver, according to KHN. “She pledged during her confirmation to recuse herself from working on many states’ Medicaid waivers to avoid conflicts of interest, including Arkansas,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement reported by The Hill. However, Verma said the work requirement is a positive step and “is about helping people rise out of poverty to achieve the American dream,” KHN reported.

Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) believes that a new health care proposal from the Center for American Progress indicates that the Democratic party is becoming more open to his “Medicare for all” platform, according to The Hill. The proposal falls short of Sanders’ single-payer plan because it still permits the option for employer-based insurance, but does provide Medicare for all people and represents a shift from previous Democratic plans, according to the report. "I believe in a Medicare for all, single-payer, but to the degree that people are talking about guaranteeing health care to all people, it's a step," Sanders told The Hill.