This Week in Managed Care: June 15, 2018

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This week, the top managed care stories include the CDC says the suicide rate is rising; lawmakers ask when drug prices will start falling; and a policy change will allow people in Medicare to use their smartphone to manage diabetes.


The CDC says the suicide rate is rising, lawmakers ask when drug prices will start falling, and a policy change will get people in Medicare use their smartphone to manage diabetes.

Welcome to This Week in Managed Care, I’m Kelly Davio.

Suicide Rates Rise

Suicide rates rose by 30% in half the states since 1999, according to a new report from CDC. Suicide is now one of the few causes of death that is on the rise, and the data show firearms are the leading method used, especially by those with no history of mental illness.

Use of firearms in suicides and in mass shootings prompted the president of the American Medical Association to call on fellow physicians to take leadership roles in treating gun violence as a public health issue. Speaking at the opening session of the AMA annual meeting, Dr. David Barbe said, “On average, gun violence claims the lives of nearly 100 people a day in the United States … The fact that this problem continues to worsen has spurred a new sense of urgency … even while Congress fails to act.”

Read more.

HHS Secretary Azar Promotes Trump Drug Price Plan

HHS Secretary Alex Azar promoted President Trump’s plan to curb prescription drug prices in Tuesday’s appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee. But lawmakers had one concern: When will consumers start to see a drop in prices?

While there were partisan differences, lawmakers were in agreement on the point raised by Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado: “There is a complete lack of transparency—not just in drugs but in all of healthcare.”

Azar blamed pharmacy benefit managers for the administration’s inability to get drug makers to drop prices voluntarily. He announced plans for CMS to make value-based contracting easier to achieve.

For more, visit

CMS to Allow Smartphones to Connect With CGM for Medicare Beneficiaries

CMS responded to diabetes patients and advocates this week when it reversed a policy that banned the use of smartphone with continuous glucose monitors for people in Medicare.

The controversial ban on using a smartphone with a CGM paid for by Medicare was announced in March 2017 when Medicare contractors made rules for distributing the Dexcom G5, the first CGM approved for reimbursement.

Advocates and even the Government Accountability Office said the ban prevented people with diabetes from sharing their CGM data with caregivers and was an example of CMS’ outdated approach to technology and durable medical equipment.

The American Associate of Diabetes Educators said the change will be good for patients and will encourage other payers to follow suit.

For more visit

NCI-Designated Cancer Centers Endorse Goal of Eliminating HPV-Related Cancers

A joint statement this week from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer centers calls for eliminating cancers caused by the human papillomavirus, known as HPV.

HPV-related cancers are on the rise, yet studies show not enough parents are making sure their teenage sons and daughters receive the vaccine that can prevent cervical and head-and-neck cancers.

The statement calls for:

  • Vaccinating more than 80% of both boys and girls ages 13 to 15 by 2020
  • Screening 93% of eligible women for cervical cancer by 2020
  • Prompt follow-up for women who screen positive for high-grade cervical lesions

Read more.

June AJMC Issue

Finally, this month’s issue of The American Journal of Managed Care features a study that shows reducing opioid use does not translate into lower satisfaction scores from patients.

The study by Kaiser Permanente is critical because many believe hospitals’ concern about poor patient ratings about being in pain causes overprescribing of opioids.

For the full study, visit

From all of us at the Managed Markets News Network, I’m Kelly Davio. Thanks for joining us.