What We're Reading: HHS Extends Deadline for HealthCare.gov 2017 Enrollment

What we’re reading, December 16, 2016: consumers now have until December 19 to enroll in a marketplace plan for coverage starting on January 1; 20 states file lawsuit against 6 pharmaceutical companies alleging generic price fixing; women who were tested for the BRCA mutation gene after Angelina Jolie’s announcement may not have been at high risk to begin with.

Consumers now have more time to sign up for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans, as HHS has extended the deadline for consumers to sign up for coverage starting on January 1. Nearly 1 million people were still in the process of enrolling as the original deadline approached last night, so officials announced the sign-up period would be extended until midnight on December 19, citing the “extraordinary demand at HealthCare.gov” in recent days.

Twenty states have filed a civil lawsuit against 6 generic drug manufacturers, including Mylan NV and Teva Pharmaceuticals. The suit, led by Connecticut, alleges that Heritage Pharmaceuticals was the “ring leader,” as it conspired with the other manufacturers to fix prices and allocate market shares. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen told Reuters that prosecutors “believe that this is the tip of the iceberg” and there is “widespread and pervasive” price fixing in the generic drug industry.

Angelina Jolie’s 2013 editorial in The New York Times announcing that she had undergone a preventive mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA gene caused a spike in the number of women seeking the genetic test, according to a study in BMJ. Researchers found a 64% relative increase in BRCA tests from the 15 days before Jolie’s announcement to the 15 days after. However, mastectomy rates were decreased among women who had a BRCA test after the editorial was published, “suggesting that women who underwent tests as a result of the editorial had a lower pre-test probability of having the BRCA mutation than women tested before the editorial.”