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What We're Reading: HHS Cuts ACA Ads; Chemical Hazard in Houston; CAR-T Treatment Price Tag


HHS Is Slashing Spending on ACA Advertising

The Trump administration is cutting the advertising budget to promote enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by 90%. According to The New York Times, the Obama administration spent $100 million last year advertising the beginning of open enrollment, but the new administration will only spend $10 million. HHS will also slash grants to groups that help people enroll in health plans offered by the ACA marketplaces. Officials cited the reasons for the cut funding as the falling number of first-time enrollees and failure of many navigator groups to meet enrollment targets despite the funding. However, proponents of the ACA are crying foul, claiming that the move is an attempt to make the law fail.

Chemical Plant Presents New Health Hazard in Houston

With flood waters from Hurricane Harvey damaging the refrigerating system at a chemical plant in Houston, people in the area are at risk of an airborne danger. The plant caught fire early Thursday morning, and, in a worst-case scenario, the gas released from it could cause harm to 1 million residents in a 23-mile radius, The Wall Street Journal reported. In reality, likely fewer than the 1 million people in the area would be affected—wind patterns and other weather factors will impact the effects. People who are exposed for 30 minutes to 1 hour would experience serious health effects.

Considering the High Price Tag of the first CAR-T Therapy

In an opinion piece for STAT, Anna Kaltenboeck and Peter B. Bach, MD, both of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, discussed outcomes-based contracting for Novartis’ $475,000 CAR-T cell therapy recently approved by the FDA. They note that while Novartis said it will only charge when the drug achieves a clinical response, caution is needed. For example, Novartis can charge a much higher price in the first place or choose an outcome that makes the drug more likely to deliver a benefit. Another announcement from Novartis to keep an eye on is the idea that Kymriah may have a different price tag for any other indications it is approved for.

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