Study Shows Pharmacies, Not-for-Profit Groups Could Help Enroll More Californians
By David Gorn
California Healthline, March 4, 2013
As director of communication and public affairs at Covered California, Oscar Hidalgo is in charge of the exchange's marketing and outreach efforts. His job is to make millions of Californians aware of the exchange, help them understand their health insurance options and then get them to enroll.
It's a big task with some unusual challenges. Many prospective enrollees are not proficient English speakers. They also have little contact with mainstream media. As a result, the exchange is taking a couple of non-traditional tacks to reach more people.
"Our goal is to make sure we create the proper awareness across California," Hidalgo said. "It's a tremendous challenge and will take multiple efforts."
More Than 400 Innovative Medicines in Development For Top Chronic Diseases Affecting Older Americans
March 20, 2013
With the population of Americans over 65 on the rise and life expectancy climbing, chronic diseases remain a principal threat to the health and productivity of older Americans, as well as to rising health care costs. Innovative medicines have led to major advances against many chronic diseases -- and the robust discovery pipeline of new medicines portends continued progress for seniors and our health care system.
These medicines -- all in clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- are diverse in scope. They include:
- 142 for diabetes, which affects 10.9 million Americans age 65 and older;
- 92 for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which affect 1.3 million Americans and 12.4 million people over age 65, respectively;
- 82 for Alzheimer's disease, which could afflict nearly 8 million people in the U.S. by 2030 unless a treatment or preventative measure is found;
- 48 for heart failure (affecting 5.8 million Americans) and ischemic heart disease; and
- 40 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which impacts more than 13 million adults, with the highest prevalence rate in those over age 65.
The Medicines in Development for Older Americans report as well as an overview and other supplementary materials are available on PhRMA's website at http://phrma.org/research/newmedicines.
What does "entitlement" really mean?
By John Kehoe
As the national debate continues about sequestration, there should be no surprise that a politically generated definition of entitlement has begun to emerge. The lack of understanding on this topic became apparent at the Sacramento Press Club. The principal speaker for the program was the Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Honorable Kevin McCarthy. One of the participants asked him if retirees would receive have all of the money they had put into the system, as retirees believe they are entitled to it.
Congressman McCarthy explained that entitlements do not work this way. As an employee, the worker is taxed a specific amount to go into a trust fund where payments would be made to the retiree after reaching the age of eligibility.
In a policy sense, an entitlement is a government program in which participants have a legal right to specified benefits whenever they meet eligibility conditions as stated by the standing law that authorizes the program.
What would entitlement reform mean to the day to day lives of Americans?
There has been talk of changing the Social Security benefit age. This would cause future generations of seniors to stay in the work force longer, pushing back when they could retire. Another hot topic is Medicare reform, as some in Congress have proposed overhauling the system.
Other proposals call for changes to the successful Medicare Part D program. Some are calling for introduction of mandatory rebates, while others are urging the government to take over negotiations for drug prices. Both of these changes could jeopardize patients' current access to vital treatments while achieving little to no cost savings for a program that is already less expensive than projected.
While it's imperative that we work to create policies of fiscal responsibility for the next generation, we must be sure to craft them smartly. As more and more Americans come to understand entitlements and what they mean for their grandparents and parents, it will be our duty to work towards reforms with our elected representatives that would really work. Now that we know what entitlements are, ask yourself what they mean to you and your community.
Medi-Cal expansion will test capacity
By Emily Bazar
CHCF Center for Health Reporting, March 2, 2013
In less than one year, the Affordable Care Act's promise to bring health care to perhaps 1 million more California residents will be tested. On Jan. 1, 2014, Medi-Cal, the publicly funded health program for low-income and disabled residents, launches a huge statewide expansion.
But making a promise is one thing, and delivering is another.
In some places, it's already difficult for many poor California residents to find a doctor who is able -- or willing -- to see them. Many medical providers who see these patients say they are overwhelmed, a situation that could worsen when those newly covered by Medi-Cal arrive for care.
"We're not even talking about 2014. Good luck finding a doctor who takes Medi-Cal now," said Carmen Burgos of the nonprofit Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance program. Burgos helps low-income Kern County residents find health care and dental services.
More than 7 million Californians are covered under Medi-Cal, and expanding the program is a major piece of President Obama's signature health law.
Obamacare means more funding for Native American clinics
By Callie Shanafelt
HealthyCal, March 12, 2013
Molin Malicay, director of the Sonoma County Indian Health Project clinic, has read all 976 pages of the Affordable Care Act--the legislation that created what's become known as Obamacare. His copy has 46 tabs, each marking a point where Native Americans are mentioned.
The country's First Peoples are uniquely affected by the federal reforms. But because of federal responsibility for tribal health is already in place, individual Native Americans may not notice the effects of Obamacare as much as Native American clinic directors.
American Indians and Alaskan Natives are exempt from the Obamacare mandate that most Americans must have health insurance or face a penalty by January 1, 2014. Thanks to the Constitution, multiple treaties, federal laws and Supreme Court decisions, the federal government is already required to provide health-care to all Native Americans. The government does this through a network of tribal health clinics in large part funded by the federal Indian Health Services. If a tribal member goes to any of these clinics, it is illegal to charge them a dime.
L.A. population will be much older, more settled, study says
By Emily Alpert
Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2013
The future of Los Angeles will be a grayer one, as aging boomers, slowing immigration and shrinking birthrates radically change the face of the county, a new study from USC predicts.
Seventeen years from now, senior citizens will make up nearly one-fifth of the county population, almost twice as many as at the start of the millennium, say Dowell Myers and John Pitkin of the USC Population Dynamics Research Group.
At the same time, the number of births will fall as families choose to have fewer children, the study predicts. Birthrates are already dwindling because immigration has plunged, sharply reducing the flow of newcomers who historically have had bigger families.
Biologics Research Promises to Bolster Future of Medicine
March 11, 2013
America's biopharmaceutical companies are using biological processes to develop 907 medicines and vaccines targeting more than 100 diseases, according to a new report.
The report includes biologics in human clinical trials or under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, such as:
- 338 cancer therapeutics that target several different types of solid tumors, leukemia and lymphoma;
- 134 vaccines for infectious diseases;
- 71 medicines for autoimmune diseases including lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis;
- 58 treatments for cardiovascular disease.
The biologic medicines now in development make use of a range of new technologies to harness scientific progress. Among the biologic medicines in development are:
- A genetically-modified virus-based vaccine to treat melanoma;
- A monoclonal antibody for the treatment of asthma;
- An antisense therapy for the treatment of leukemia;
- A recombinant fusion protein to treat type 2 diabetes.
The U.S. biopharmaceutical research sector supports nearly four million jobs across the economy, invests billions of dollars in research and development each year, and accounts for nearly 20 percent of all domestic R&D funded by U.S. businesses generating high-quality, high-wage jobs, powering the U.S. economy, and developing critical new treatments against our most costly and challenging diseases.
The Biologic Medicines in Development report as well as an overview and other supplementary materials are available on PhRMA's website at http://phrma.org/research/new-medicines.