What We're Reading: 7 Insurers Allegedly Discriminate Against Patients With HIV

October 18, 2016

What we're reading, October 18, 2016: Pfizer's Remicade biosimilar set to launch in late November; HHS receives allegations that 7 insurers are discriminating against patients with HIV; and most staff changes in the Department of Veterans Affairs are just manager moves.

Complaints filed with HHS are alleging that 7 insurers are discriminating against patients with HIV. The plans do not cover essential HIV treatment drugs or have high out-of-pocket costs for these patients, which discourages people with HIV from purchasing the plan or getting their treatment, reported Kaiser Health News. The complaint has been filed against Humana, Cigna, Highmark, Independence Blue Cross, UPMC, Community Health Choice, and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Wisconsin.

Pfizer’s biosimilar of Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade will be sold in late November at a 15% discount off the price of the reference product. According to The Wall Street Journal, the launch of Inflectra will occur before the ongoing patent dispute with Johnson & Johnson has been resolved, which will likely set up a fight in court. Johnson & Johnson has already promised to fight the launch of the biosimilar and has pointed out that Inflectra cannot be automatically substituted for Remicade.

Most changes in staffing in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since 2014 has just been the result of moving existing managers around. USA TODAY reported that only 8 medical center directors have been hired from outside the agency since 2014. Despite concerns about the care provided at VA facilities under some managers’ direction, those managers were simply transferred to new jobs within the VA. The VA has stated that 84% of medical centers are under new leadership, but that only means that one member of the management team has transferred from another center or job.