What We're Reading: Pre-Existing Conditions in Iowa; Congress Passes Opioid Bill; Biosimilar Insulin Study

AJMC Staff

Iowa Farm Bureau Health Plans Screening Applicants for Pre-Existing Conditions

Health plans sold through Iowa’s Farm Bureau will ask applicants if they have any pre-existing conditions, and some applicants could be denied coverage based on their answers, The Hill reported. According to a checklist posted online by the Farm Bureau, applicants will be asked about a list of conditions related to mental health, blood pressure, the reproductive system, and lungs or the respiratory system, among others. If an applicant says they have been treated for any of 16 conditions in the past 5 years, they will be required to provide detailed explanations of the treatments, medications, and current status. The plans were made legal under a law signed by Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds in April. The plans are expected to be much cheaper than plans sold on the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange because they don’t have to meet federal requirements.

Congress Approves Massive Measure to Address Opioid Crisis

Congress this week approved rare bipartisan legislation aimed at curbing opioid use disorder, giving lawmakers something to campaign on ahead of the November midterms, the Associated Press reported. The Support for Patients and Communities Act passed the Senate 98-1 Wednesday and the House 393-8 last week. The measure attacks the problem in hundreds of ways; among other provisions, it will allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners to prescribe medication-assisted treatment, and it will broaden coverage under Medicaid and Medicare.

Can Biosimilar Insulin Reduce Costs?

A new study sought to assess the cost to produce insulin and to examine how biosimilar insulin, if manufactured on a large scale, could reduce the cost of treatment for patients with diabetes, The Center for Biosimiliars reported. The investigators designed formulae for estimating competitive—but profitable—prices for biosimilar insulin using the cost of an active pharmaceutical ingredient and excipients either exported from India or based on quotes from biosimilar manufacturers, the cost of formulation into vials, development and regulatory costs, and a margin for operating expenses and profit. Despite the fact that insulin is indispensable for approximately 100 million people with diabetes worldwide, an estimated half of those patients have no reliable supply of insulin, due in large part to cost. 

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