What We're Reading: Surprise Medical Bills; Drugstore Chains' Lawsuit; Stroke Risk in Young Adults

January 8, 2020

Most residents of Kansas face surprise out-of-network medical bills; drugstore chains fight back in the ongoing opioid epidemic; young adults face a greater stroke risk if they use both e-cigarettes and cigarettes.

Kansans Face More Surprise Medical Bills

Kansans face a greater chance of surprise medical bills from out-of-network providers, compared with residents of other states, reports NPR. The state ranks among the 5 worst for these often unbudgeted-for costs, thanks in part to its federal marketplace plans, which all require consumers to pay for most of their out-of-network care. With some states having passed consumer protection measures against surprise billing, the real push is now for Congress to pass similar measures at the federal level.

Drugstore Chains Seek Shared Liability in Ohio Opioid Lawsuit

A group of drugstore chains that includes CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Rite Aid filed a lawsuit in Ohio on Monday seeking shared liability in Cuyahoga and Summit counties, if they are found guilty at trial, from doctors and prescribers whom they blame for the opioid epidemic, according to The Washington Post. The 2 counties filed their own lawsuit in 2018, originally blaming the major drug chains for the proliferation of opioids and recently amending it to include pharmacists within these chains. Per the DEA’s Diversion Control Division, pharmacists also have a responsibility to ensure prescriptions are legitimate. Settlements in the hundreds of millions were paid out last year, but these big chains have so far avoided liability.

Stroke Risk Increases in Young Adults Who Use E-Cigarettes and Cigarettes

With vaping-related lung injuries on the rise, a recent report from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that e-cig use plus being a current smoker of regular cigarettes contributes to the 2.91 times higher rate of stroke among young adults aged 18 to 44 years. Among current smokers, this rate is 1.59, and for sole e-cig users, 2.54, the report adds. However, for never-smokers who now use e-cigs, the risk does not go up. Lead study investigator Tarang Parekh, MBBS, MSc, Department of Health Administration and Policy, George Mason University, did not hesitate to call on policymakers to regulate these products and urges further research on additional smoking cessation alternatives.