“Don Berwick – who, as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, oversaw large chunks of the early implementation of the Affordable Care Act – is trying to shake up the health policy world again. He ran CMS from July 2010 to December 2011, and left because Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation to lead the agency permanently. Now, more than two years later, he is a long-shot Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts and the heart of his platform is a single-payer health plan.”

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“Enrollees in some of the health law’s most popular plans will face high cost-sharing requirements that the pharmaceutical industry says could keep patients from getting the drugs they need.

Most silver plans in the online marketplaces, or exchanges, require patients to pay for prescription drugs as part of the plan’s deductible, while nearly all bronze plans do, according to a report from Breakaway Health prepared for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the drug industry’s trade group.”

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“The FBI is reportedly investigating criminal fraud by the architects of Oregon’s ObamaCare program, but maybe the G-men should take a look on the East Coast too. Like Oregon two weeks ago, Massachusetts announced on Monday that it is dumping its dysfunctional insurance exchange and defaulting to the federal version—though in fairness to Governor Deval Patrick, his crimes are merely against competent government.”

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“Two of the most controversial questions in health care reform are whether government-sponsored expansions of health insurance coverage like ObamaCare and RomneyCare save lives, and if so whether other policies could save more lives per dollar spent. “Changes in Mortality After Massachusetts Health Care Reform,” published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, presents evidence suggesting RomneyCare may have saved lives, but at a very high cost.”

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“As you may know if you’re a regular reader of The Apothecary, the left has systematically ignored the mountains of clinical evidence showing that the Medicaid program doesn’t actually make people healthier. Given that Obamacare is designed to achieve half of its coverage expansion via Medicaid, you can understand why: if Medicaid doesn’t make people healthier, a significant chunk of Obamacare is wasted money. But the other chunk of Obamacare—the one that expands coverage using subsidized private-sector coverage—could indeed have an impact on health outcomes. An important new study, following the health outcomes of Romneycare in Massachusetts, shows us how.”

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“Over the past several years, a major debate has broken out among health policy watchers as to whether expanding insurance actually saves lives. About a year ago, I reported on a landmark study in Oregon that found no real improvement in physical health among those who had gained access to Medicaid.”

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“By combining the HHS data on enrollment through the Exchanges through March 31,
2014 with the HHS data on Exchange funding through March 31, 2014, the attached chart
calculates a cost-per-enrollee for each state’s Exchange.”

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“Celeste Castillo, a Guatemalan immigrant, was invited to a news conference with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius early last year to help promote enrollment in the country’s new health insurance marketplaces…Fourteen months later, the 57-year-old nanny was still uninsured.”

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“A new study gives ammunition to what health economists and health insurers have argued for years: When hospitals buy physician practices, the result is usually higher hospital prices and increased spending by privately insured patients.”

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“RomneyCare’s pioneering health insurance exchange is headed for the scrap heap.
Bay State officials are taking steps this week to junk central parts of their dysfunctional health insurance exchange — the model for President Barack Obama’s health care law — and merge with the federal enrollment site HealthCare.gov.”

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