What We're Reading: Population Health and the Economy; Price's Stock Trades; Mass. Spending Caps

Report Links Population Health to Economic Performance

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has released its second annual edition of a Moody’s Analytics report that finds a direct link between population health and economic growth. Moody’s pairs economic data with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index, a county-level measurement of conditions with the greatest effect on those with commercially insured. The report’s most direct connection between health and the economy is that healthier workers are more productive, miss fewer days of work, and are stronger physically and mentally.

Senators Demand Info on Probe of Price’s Stock Trades

Questions about HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, and his stock trades aren’t going away. Kaiser Health News reports that 7 senators—6 Democrats plus independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont—sent a letter Wednesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking what he knows about an investigation into Price’s trades that may have started before former US Attorney Preet Bharara was dismissed from New York’s Southern District. During Price’s confirmation hearings, the former Georgia congressman was questioned about trades in healthcare, medical device, and pharmaceutical stocks he made while serving on the House health committee.

Massachusetts Panel Sets Tight Healthcare Spending Cap

Massachusetts will try to limit healthcare spending increases to 3.1% in 2018, below this year’s target of 3.6%, following a vote Wednesday by its Health Policy Commission. The rate is triggered by a 2012 law designed to keep healthcare spending in line with the rest of the economy. However, WBUR in Boston reports that spending in 2014 and 2015 exceeded caps, and actual 2016 spending figures aren’t in yet. The Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents doctors, thinks the tighter cap is a bad idea. Overall US healthcare spending has been increasing by about 5% a year.