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ABC Member Dr. Aaron Horne Asks Congress to End TAVR Disparities
On February 6, ABC Board Member Aaron Horne, MD, traveled to Capitol Hill to ask congressional lawmakers for their help in ending disparities in access among minority populations to Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are reconsidering the national coverage determination (NCD) for TAVR. Dr. Horne presented to the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) in 2018. ABC is a member of the Heart Valve Disease Policy Task Force. A component of the Task Force’s advocacy strategy is to get congressional lawmakers to voice their concerns with CMS regarding the current TAVR coverage policy. A draft revised NCD is expected early this year.
ABC Responds to Proposal to Lower Rx Costs
On February 19, the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) sent a letter to Sens. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Mark Warner (D-VA) in response to drat legislation aimed at facilitating new and innovative payment models for pharmaceuticals and other medical services. The Patient Affordability, Value and Efficiency (PAVE) Act, seeks to increase the use of value-based arrangements by providing narrow exceptions to the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and the Physician Self-Referral Law (or Stark Law). The proposal also creates an exemption from the Medicaid best price policy for entities entering into value-based arrangements. Specifically, the proposal increases the ability to move toward value-based arrangements, which directly connect pricing for prescription drugs and medical devices to the clinical effectiveness of their products. In its letter, ABC noted that value-based arrangements can reduce disparities in care by requiring providers to treat all populations equally to attain the highest level of performance and be reimbursed accordingly.
Kaiser Permanente Will Waive Medical School Tuition Through 2024
The health care company announced that students entering its first five classes between 2020 and 2024 will have their tuition and fees, as well as health insurance, waived for the four years while attending classes at the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine.
UVA Launching 6 New Telehealth, mHealth Programs for Chronic Care
The University of Virginia Health System is launching or expanding six telehealth and mHealth programs aimed at improving care management and coordination for people living with chronic conditions.
IBM Watson Health Invests $50M in Research Collaborations, Teams Up With Broad Institute to Predict Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
The company announced a 10-year investment in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital—which is a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School—and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to research the use of AI to address major public health issues.
New National Initiative to Align States, Health Plans, and Providers to Eliminate Health Inequities
Advancing Health Equity: Leading Care, Payment, and Systems Transformation, a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was recently launched to reduce and eliminate disparities in health care through innovative Medicaid payment and contracting models.
VIDEO: Rwanda, Partners In Health, Unveil New University of Global Health Equity Campus
Rwanda recently opened a new academic center in the Butero District, the University of Global Health Equity. The educational center, built by U.S.-based Partners in Health, will focus on training students to emerge ready to develop health care services and systems that connect neglected communities with essential life-saving attention. The Master of Science in Global Health Delivery (MGHD) program focuses on leadership and management training, as well as how health delivery is shaped by societal and environmental forces, and is modeled after one at Harvard Medical School. Click below to watch CNBC Africa's report from Fiona Muthoni.
ACA Significantly Narrowed Disparities in Coverage for People of Color, but Those Trends May be Reversing
A new brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation looks at the disparity in health coverage by race and ethnicity between 2013 and 2017 using American Community Survey data. In 2013, 16.8% of the nonelderly population lacked insurance, with the scales tipping higher for people of color, KFF found.
Gallup Reports 4-Year High in Number of Uninsured Americans
The percentage of uninsured Americans is on the rise with women, young adults, and lower-income individuals representing the largest increases.
Judge Allows House Democrats to Join Defense of ACA in Texas Case
A Texas judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act was no longer enforceable as Congress has repealed the penalty attached to its individual insurance mandate. As the Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 election, legislators began to set the stage for their entry into the law’s defense.
Survey: Health Care Costs, Access Unlikely to Improve in 2019
U.S. physicians are not expecting to see improvements in health care costs and access in 2019, but most predict that the Affordable Care Act will make it through the year despite government efforts to defund it, according to a survey by health care market research company InCrowd.
Medicare Buy-In vs Medicare For All
Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Reps. Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) have introduced legislation that would allow anyone over age 50 to buy into Medicare. The bill would enable people between ages 50 and 65 to buy a private Medicare plan and obtain the same tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies available on the Obamacare exchanges. Read Sen. Stabenow’s press release below, which includes a list of original cosponsors.
Dingell, Upton, Guthrie Lead Introduction of Bipartisan Health Bills
Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) introduced two health bills that make it easier for seniors and the disabled to receive care in their preferred setting without facing bankruptcy or significant financial hardship.
Congress Mulls Cap on What Medicare Enrollees Pay for Drugs
With health care a top issue for American voters, Congress may actually be moving toward doing something this year to address the high cost of prescription drugs.
Healthcare Firms, Insurances Try to Kill Medicare-for-All Push
Even before Democrats finish drafting bills to create a single payer health-care system, the health care and insurance industries have assembled a small army of lobbyists to kill Medicare-for-all,” an idea that is mocked publicly but is greeted privately with increasing seriousness.
PBMs Launch Counterattack Following Trump Administration's Plan to End Drug Rebates
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association launched a campaign called #OnYourRxSide, which aims to educate consumers about the role PBMs play in their health benefits and the role they play in bringing down costs at the pharmacy counter.
PAD Paclitaxel Stent Safety Is Again Thrown Into Question
Key data supporting the safety of paclitaxel-coated devices placed in femoropopliteal lesions has been undermined by serious errors, suggesting the mortality risk shown in a hotly debated meta-analysis may be real after all.
New Generic Drug Company to Start With Blood Pressure Medication
ProvideGx, a subsidiary of Premier, will start its offerings with metoprolol, a beta-blocker that can treat blood pressure and angina and is commonly given to heart attack patients. Metoprolol has experienced a shortage for more than a year due to manufacturing delays and a manufacturer dropping out of production, according to the report.
Stroke Patients With Prediabetes Benefit From Pioglitazone
The insulin-sensitizing agent pioglitazone (Actos) appeared effective for secondary prevention in stroke patients with prediabetes, according to a post hoc analysis of the IRIS randomized clinical trial reported here.
Underdosing of Direct Oral Anticoagulants Harmful in AF
Among patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation taking direct oral anticoagulants for stroke prevention, those who took an off-label lower dose had greater risk for stroke, MI and death compared with those who took the standard dose, researchers reported at the International Stroke Conference.
Novartis Aims to Pump Up Cardio Business With Ionis Deal
Novartis will pay $150 million to Ionis Pharmaceuticals to license an RNA-targeting cardiovascular drug as the Swiss company aims to bolster its range of heart disease treatments that now includes the blockbuster Entresto.
A Letter: Increased Rate of Mortality in Patients Receiving Abiomed Impella RP System
The FDA is evaluating recent interim post-approval study (PAS) results which suggest a higher mortality rate for patients treated with the Abiomed Impella RP System than the rate previously observed in the premarket clinical studies. The Impella RP System is a temporary right heart pump system intended to help patients maintain stable heart function without open chest surgery. The FDA wants to ensure you are aware of the mortality rate that has been observed in the ongoing PAS.
Ultra-Thin Orsiro Stent Gains FDA Approval
The ultra-thin Orsiro drug-eluting stent (DES) has received FDA approval and is now commercially available in the United States, device manufacturer Biotronik announced Feb. 22.
New Option Available for Physicians Treating Patients With Atrial Fibrillation
Approval has been granted for Abbot’s TactiCath Contact Force Ablation Catheter, Sensor Enabled, which is helping more physicians integrate ablation with 3D mapping to advance the treatment of people with atrial fibrillation.
Can Roche's Little Tech Startup Help the FDA Change Clinical Trials?
Could a startup founded by two guys in their 20s change the way medical researchers study patients? The Food and Drug Administration is open to the possibility.
FDA Expands Drug-Eluding Stent to Treat De Novo CTO
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted an expanded indication approval to Medtronic’s Drug-Eluding Stent (DES) platform for patients with coronary artery disease who have de novo chronic total occlusion (CTO).
FDA: Blood Pressure Drug Losartan Recalled Over Small Amounts of Carcinogen
The recalled 100 mg/25 mg losartan and potassium/hydrochlorothiazide tablets contained small amounts of N-nitrosodiethylamine, or NDEA, according to a company recall notice shared on the Food and Drug Administration's website.
Mandatory Payment Models
In a February 14 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Azar, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked for information on the circumstances under which physicians should be mandated to participate in alternative payment and delivery models.
Changes to Rx Rebate Proposal Released
On February 6, the Department of Health and Human Services, alongside the Office of Inspector General, released a proposed rule to revise the anti-kickback safe harbors to explicitly exclude from the definition of a discount eligible for safe harbor protection certain reductions in price or other remuneration from a manufacturer of prescription pharmaceutical products to plan sponsors under Medicare Part D, Medicaid managed care organizations, or pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). In addition, HHS is proposing two new safe harbors. The first would protect certain point-of-sale reductions in price on prescription pharmaceutical products, and the second would protect certain PBM service fees. Comments on the proposal are being accepted until April 8.
HIT Interoperability Rules Released
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have released interoperability and information blocking proposed rules. These rules aim to:
  • Improve the interoperability of electronic health information;
  • Enhance care coordination; and
  • Foster innovation that promotes patient access to and control over their health information.
  • These documents, among other things, put forward a framework for implementing the information blocking provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act, including identifying reasonable and necessary activities that do not constitute information blocking.
    Payers, Providers to CMS: Don't End Silver Loading
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requested feedback on the practice in its annual Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters proposal, which sets regulatory requirements for qualified health plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
    Quality of CAD Care Higher for Medicare Advantage Patients
    Patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) enrolled in private insurance plans through Medicare Advantage (MA) are more likely to receive guideline-recommended medications for secondary prevention than those in fee-for-service Medicare, according to a new analysis in JAMA Cardiology. But that wasn't tied to improvements in blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
    Medicare Pilot Program Would Allow Ambulances to Take Patients Places Other Than Hospitals
    Ambulance companies could be paid by Medicare early next year in a test program to transport seniors to non-hospital facilities, a proposal that partly had its origins in Michigan from Greg Beauchemin, CEO of Southfield-based Community EMS, an ambulance and consulting company.
    The Transformation of the American Board of Internal Medicine
    Co-Authored By Dr. Ola Akinboboye, Past ABC President and Current Chair of ABIM's Cardiovascular Board
    Over the past four years, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) – with the engagement of the medical community – has undergone a transformation to rebuild the trust and respect it historically enjoyed among the profession for much of its existence.
    Effects of Monetary Bonuses on Physician Care in Chronic Disease
    Increased bonus size for physicians caring for patients with chronic disease is associated with improvements in care quality, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in JAMA Network Open.
    The Powerful Role of Social Media in the Field of Cardiology
    Social media fills several powerful roles in the Cardiology field, including networking, sharing meaningful opinions, fostering educational discussions centered around a cardiology topic or paper of interest, and promoting or raising awareness of new research.
    When the Waiting Room Is Your Living Room
    Businesses can deliver everything on demand, from dinner to dry cleaning. Some will even show up at your door to give you cupcakes or walk your dog. Now, entrepreneurs are exploring a growing niche: health care.
    Extremely High Blood Pressure in African-Americans Is 5 Times the National Average
    Extremely high blood pressure that leads to strokes, heart attacks and acute kidney damage, classified as hypertensive emergency, is five times higher in inner-city African-American patients than the national average, according to a recent study.
    Texting Succeeds for Remote HTN Care in Black Women
    A texting-based intervention, where women texted in their blood pressure measurements versus coming in for a postpartum office visit, virtually eliminated racial disparities in postpartum care, a researcher said here.
    Grocery-Store Based Nutrition Education Improves Eating Habits
    Hypertension affects over 60 million adults in the United States and less than half have their condition under control. A new study found that grocery store-based nutrition counseling was effective in changing dietary habits of patients being treated for hypertension.
    Taking Sleep to Heart
    Getting enough sleep is key to good health, and studies have shown that insufficient sleep increases the risk of serious problems, including cardiovascular disease. Now, Harvard Medical School researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered one way that sleep protects against atherosclerosis, the buildup of arterial plaques.
    T2 Mapping May Uncover Cardiotoxic Marker Early Enough to Prevent Heart Failure
    T2 mapping derived from weekly cardiac MRIs helped researchers identify cardiotoxicity at an early and reversible stage, a finding which may have implications for cancer patients at risk of chemotherapy-induced heart failure.
    PCORI Board Approves $2.8 Million to Support Implementation of Findings From PCORI-Funded Research on Sleep Apnea and Community Health Worker Interventions
    The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors today approved $2.8 million to fund two projects designed to speed the use of results of PCORI-funded studies into practice. The Board also approved a PCORnet funding announcement and adopted new methodology standards.


    MQ 2019 Featured Session
    Blueprint for Change:
    Defining and Promoting a Single, Effective System
    of Care for Patients with High Blood Pressure

    Friday, April 12 | 1:00pm - 5:00pm

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