What We're Reading: Medicare Forecast; Handwritten Prescription Errors; Repeal Back-up Plan


Medicare Trustees Project Solvency Through 2029, Avoiding Cuts

Medicare’s trustees have forecasted that the program will remain solvent through 2029, making the formation of an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) unnecessary for now, Reuters reports. Last year, the trustees’ report projected that Medicare would become insolvent a year earlier and that expenditures in the coming year of 2017 would trigger a provision in the Affordable Care Act creating the IPAB, which would be tasked with cutting costs. In response to the rosier forecast released yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a press conference, during which he declared that Medicare and Social Security “are secure and will remain secure.”

Handwritten Opioid Prescriptions Carry High Risk of Error

New research finds an alarmingly high rate of errors in opioid prescriptions written by hand. According to the study in the Journal of Opioid Management, 89% of handwritten opioid prescriptions contained an error, compared with 0% of the electronic health record (EHR) computer-generated prescriptions. The computer-generated prescriptions all adhered to best practice guidelines and contained 2 patient identifiers, and all prescriptions from the EHR fully complied with rules set by the Drug Enforcement Agency. “Inconsistencies in opioid prescribing remain common,” the study authors concluded.

GOP Senator Develops ACA Repeal Back-up Plan

If the Senate’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fails next week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is working on a fallback plan, according to Politico. It would redirect most of the federal ACA funding to the states, which would “empower each individual state to choose the path that works best for them.” Developed with the help of Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), a physician, the bill will likely be offered as an amendment to the bill devised by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), rather than a competing piece of legislation.

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