The federal government’s annual projections of health spending for the next decade suggest that it will go up faster than in recent years. One of the main reasons is the aging of the huge baby boom generation. And drug prices are expected to continue to rise rapidly, although drugs are still a relatively small portion of overall drug spending.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on potentially dangerous dietary supplements. The agency has relatively little authority over what are technically food products, thanks to a 1994 law passed by Congress at the behest of the supplement industry. But FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he will do as much as he can to ensure the safety of the supplement supply.
And three judges at the Court of Federal Claims have ruled that insurance companies are owed reimbursement for discounts they extended to lower-income purchasers of Affordable Care Act individual policies in 2017 and 2018. That is despite the fact that those insurers were largely made whole by adjustments made by states after President Donald Trump canceled the insurer payouts in 2017.
This week’s panelists are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Alice Ollstein of Politico, Anna Edney of Bloomberg News and Kimberly Leonard of The Washington Examiner.
Among the takeaways from this week’s podcast:
- The new federal estimates of future health spending suggest that the cost of health care covered by private insurance is rising faster than that covered by government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
- That analysis offered by actuaries at the Department of Health and Human Services noted that the cost of drugs is rising faster than the cost of doctors and hospitals.
- Although the FDA has signaled it is willing to be tougher on dietary supplements, congressional action may be needed to give the agency more power over the industry, and that doesn’t seem to be a priority on Capitol Hill.
- The federal claims court judgments could complicate the situation for consumers because insurers found a workaround — called silver loading — that resulted in many people getting higher premium subsidies that helped keep the cost of their coverage low. But the administration is considering barring that workaround.
Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read too:
Julie Rovner: STAT News’ “‘Everyone Is At Fault’: With Insulin Prices Skyrocketing, There’s Plenty Of Blame To Go Around,” by Nicholas Florko
Anna Edney: Vox’s “Hit By A City Bus – And Hit With A $27,660 City Hospital Bill,” by Sarah Kliff
Kimberly Leonard: ProPublica’s “Behind The Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash And Gifts To Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose,” by Marshall Allen
Alice Ollstein: Bloomberg News’ “Beware Of Using Young People’s Blood To Halt Aging, FDA Says,” by Anna Edney
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