What We're Reading: End-of-Life Discussions; Cancer Clinical Trials; Maine Medicaid Expansion

Providers Bill for End-of-Life Talks

In the first year that providers could bill Medicare for end-of-life discussions, nearly 575,000 beneficiaries had such conversations. According to Kaiser Health News, the use was much higher than expected and 23,000 providers submitted more than $43 million in covered charges. The American Medical Association had predicted that just 300,000 people would take part in end-of-life discussions in the first year. The benefit pays $86 for the first 30-minute office visit and $75 for additional sessions.

Not Enough Patients in Cancer Clinical Trials

With science racing ahead, there are too many experimental cancer drugs and not enough patients to take part in their clinical trials. The New York Times reported that part of the issue is that these new revolutionary treatments, such as immunotherapies, are only effective in select patients. There are now more than 1000 immunotherapy trials underway, and cancer centers worry that these trials don’t always address new questions—instead, the drug companies are simply trying to get proprietary drugs approved.

Maine to Consider Medicaid Expansion

In November, Maine residents will vote on a ballot question that requires the state to apply for Medicaid expansion. The state’s expansion of Medicaid is expected to cost $54 million each year, according to AP. Proponents say the move will reduce the number of uninsured and create jobs, but opponents want any Medicaid expansion to include work requirements and worry it will lead to unexpected enrollment and budget shortfalls.