What We're Reading: NYC Expands Health Coverage; Hospital Transparency Rule Confusion; Eli Lilly Purchases Loxo Oncology

New York City is expanding health coverage to 600,000 uninsured residents; a transparency rule requiring hospitals to post prices online is confusing patients; and Eli Lilly has purchased Loxo Oncology in what some are calling a massive bet on cancer genetic.

NYC Mayor Announces Universal Health Insurance Program

On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will spend up to $100 million per year to cover 600,000 uninsured residents, including low-income residents and undocumented immigrants. According to the Associated Press, the plan involves expanding the city’s existing public insurance program—MetroPlus—and providing uninsured people with access to affordable care at city-owned facilities. It will also aim to provide these residents with a variety of services, ranging from primary care to mental health services, through the network of hospitals and clinics run by the city Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Rule Requiring Hospitals to Post Prices Online Is Confusing Patients

A rule starting January 1 required all hospitals to post their list prices online in an effort to boost transparency. However, according to Kaiser Health News, the new rule may be creating more confusion for patients, as the websites price lists—called chargemasters—are massive compendiums of prices set by each hospital for each service or drug. For a patient to figure out what an emergency visit might cost them, they must figure out and put together the price for each component of the visit, including blood tests, dispensed medications, and the facility fee.

Eli Lilly Purchases Loxo Oncology

Eli Lilly is expanding its oncology portfolio with its $8 billion purchase of Loxo Oncology, reported STAT. The purchase has been called a massive bet on cancer genetics, as Loxo Oncology’s medicines target genetic mutations regardless of where they are in the body. The drug maker’s first drug, Vitrakvi (larotrectinib) was approved in November 2018 for all solid tumors with an NTRK mutation, which exists in about 3% of cancer patients. Its second drug, LOXO-292, targets patients with lung of thyroid cancer with RET mutations.