What We're Reading: Oregon's Health CO-OP Forced to Close Doors

What We're Reading, July 12, 2016: Oregon's Health CO-OP to close down by the end of July; experts discuss fairer ways to decide on drug pricing; and gender bias in physician salaries at academic institutions.

Oregon’s Health CO-OP is calling it a day. Come August, the state of Oregon will have only 2 carriers selling health plans for individuals for the year 2017, and 20,600 individuals who were enrolled through the CO-OP have now been left scampering to find a new plan. According to The Bend Bulletin, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services took the action to shut down the CO-OP following a revelation by CMS that the CO-OP owes $900,000 to the federal risk adjustment program, instead of receiving $5 million from the program.

The drug price debate needs an overhaul and a fresh outlook, according to Kavita Patel, MD, and Scott Gottlieb, MD, who write in a recent Health Affairs blog. Patel and Gottlieb propose an amalgamation of the European model, where the government sets the drug price, with outcomes-based pricing—this, they believe, would keep the wheels of innovation rolling. With the CMS proposal to move toward value-based pricing arrangements as early as 2017, we would need new regulations to clarify how drug makers, insurance plans, and health systems can rationalize value-based and indication-based contract, they write.

Gender bias in compensation continues to plague every aspect of society, around the globe, and, according to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine, physicians are no exception to this phenomenon. The study found an absolute difference of $51,315 in the average annual unadjusted salaries of female versus male academic physicians, with the female physicians earning lower. This trend, however, varied across specialties, institutions, and faculty ranks. Full professors who were female, for example, had comparable compensation with their male counterparts. Other variables that influenced their earnings included years of experience, total publications, and clinical trial participation.