Drug Costs, Fast Tracking and Dangers of Some Biologics; Getting Caught in Medical Debt; Continuing Looks Into and Questions about Hospital CEO Salaries; Bree Collaborative Seeks Public Comment on Bundled Payments for Hips and Knees; How the ACA Impacts Employers, and Finally a Survey That Let’s You Object, Abstain and Comment! And Happy Birthday, Dick Spady, 90 YO 10/15!

While health care costs have been slowing, drugs are becoming increasingly expensive. This article raises troubling questions about how we set our pharmaceutical and medical device costs. Even agencies that are supposed to police medicines and devices let the manufacturers set the price.


I am including this article on fast-tracking drugs.   This abstract deals with the new move to fast track ‘biosimilars.’   I did an earlier article on some of the problems with fast-tracking other medications.  Clinical trials are relatively short; most of the people in the trials are healthy; most trials include only 1,000’s of people. When the approved drugs go to market, they are used by hundreds of thousands people, many of whom will have other health issues—which has led many health insurers to not use new medications until they have been on the market for five years.

I am not sure how this relates to some of the ‘compounding’ issues which were raised recently about compounding companies that are ‘regulated’ at the state level.


Indeed, looking at biologics and genetically modified organisms may have a law of unintended consequences.  Bad corn outcomes in the Midwest.  


With health care costs increasing, some seniors are falling into debt:


People are still reading our report on Washington State Hospital CEO salaries and a follow up story on CEO salaries, community benefit and accountability.  Here is a similar story about other studies in Monday’s NY Times.


The Bree  Collaborative in Washington State Seeks Comments on Hip and Knee Replacement Bundled Payments through October 25! 

The Bree Collaborative, a legislatively appointed group of purchasers, plans, and providers, recently developed a bundle and warranty payment model for total hip and knee replacements and is now seeking public comment. You can learn more about the bundle by visiting the collaborative’s website and by viewing recordings of the web conferences jointly held by WSHA (Washington State Hospital Association) and the Washington State Medical Association. Public comments are being taken via a web survey tool through October 25, 2013.

After the comment period, the collaborative will finalize its recommendations and send them to the Washington State Health Care Authority to consider implementation in purchasing for both Medicaid and public employees. These recommendations also serve as a model for private insurers.

Wondering How the ACA impacts Employers?  New Toolkit Hot Off the Press from the Alliance for Health Care Reform in DC.  


Take an ACA Community Health Care Survey:  You can answer or not; abstain or object to the question.  And have a chance to comment!

We used this tool at CodeBlueNow! It is a very useful tool because you can object to the question and abstain from answering and actually comment on the question. The one question I had trouble with was actually the one I submitted.  It is not clear, but you need to rank the items–i.e., you cannot rank two as “valuable”–they need to be in rank order.

CodeBlueNow! is one of many community organizations participating in this survey.  If you complete it, and click on CodeBlueNow! on the final survey page, we have a chance to have a small grant to expand our work in consumer protection and accountability in health care. And you have the chance to influence the the 2nd round of health care questions.  As an FYI, there were several questions I objected to and abstained from.  Which is why I particularly like this survey–and you can tell them why!  Don’t you wish you could do that with every poll?


And a very Happy Birthday to Dick Spady, born on October 15, 1923 who invented this survey because he believes passionately that the public needs a voice! A very happy birthday and many thanks to you, Dick for your tenacity, vision and generosity!  

Kathleen O’Connor (c) October 14, 2013


About Kathleen

Kathleen O’Connor: 30+ year health care consumer advocate, non-profit executive and author. For more information about Kathleen, please see "About" on the main content bar above.
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