What We're Reading: Azar to Announce Healthcare Actions; Opposition to CMS Opioid Limits; Diabetes Disagreement

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the administration will announce actions to lower healthcare costs, as well as a move to give patients control of their data; doctors and patients with chronic pain oppose proposed prescribing limits sought by CMS for opioids; doctor groups are disagreeing about blood sugar targets for patients with diabetes.

Azar: Expect Announcement About Lowering Healthcare Costs, Giving Patients Control of Data

HHS Secretary Alex Azar told the annual public policy conference of the Federation of American Hospitals in Washington, DC, that the administration will take actions aimed at lowering healthcare costs, and said there will be an announcement Tuesday about a move to “put patients in control of their health data,” The Hill reported. Azar said HHS will also “experiment” with payment models in Medicare and Medicaid to “drive value and quality.”

Doctors, Pain Patients Oppose CMS Opioid Prescribing Limits

A CMS rule would restrict opioid doses to Medicare patients to the equivalent of 90 milligrams of morphine per day. On Monday, a last-minute coalition of doctors, pain patients, and public health experts opposed the rule, STAT reported. Monday was the last day for public comment on the rule, which is set to be finalized April 2. Critics said the regulation is heavy handed.

Doctor Groups Differ About Blood Sugar Targets

The American College of Physicians (ACP), representing internists, suggested that doctors who treat people with type 2 diabetes can set less aggressive blood sugar targets. But the American College of Endocrinologists and the American Diabetes Association, both of which specialize in diabetes, sharply disagree, NPR reported. The ACP said doctors can aim for glycated hemoglobin in the range of 7% to 8%, not the lower levels that other groups recommend.