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Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Judge halts 340B Medicare rate cuts for hospitals

BY SUSANNAH LUTHI: A federal judge late Monday blocked the Trump administration’s Medicare cuts to 340B hospitals, saying the new rates aren’t lawful for 2018 and 2019.

However, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras did not grant hospitals the permanent injunction against the cuts that they wanted. Instead, he ordered the department to take “first crack” at a remedial measure with a status update due Aug. 5. (read more)

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Beneficiaries Who Switch to Medicare Advantage Have Lower Medicare Spending and Use Fewer Services – In the Prior Year – Than Those Who Stay in Traditional Medicare

BY CHRIS LEE: Medicare Advantage plans gain beneficiaries from traditional Medicare who have lower average spending and use fewer health services than similar beneficiaries who choose to remain in traditional Medicare, according to a new KFF analysis.

The analysis finds that people who switched from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage in 2016 had health spending in 2015 that was $1,253 less, on average, than the average spending for beneficiaries who remained in traditional Medicare (after adjusting for health risk). (read more)

‘Unsophisticated’ investors are overreacting to Democrats’ calls for ‘Medicare for All,’ warns ex-Aetna CEO

BY BERKELEY LOVELACE JR.: Health-care stocks are underperforming the market this year because some investors are overreacting to political slogans from Democratic presidential hopefuls, former Aetna Chairman and CEO Ronald Williams told CNBC on Tuesday.

Health care is the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 this year as Sen. Bernie Sanders and other 2020 contenders push “Medicare for All,” a plan to replace private health insurance with public coverage. The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund, an ETF that tracks the health-care industry’s biggest companies, has risen by 4.7% year to date as of Monday’s close, significantly lagging the S&P 500′s 17% rally. (read more)

Two Ways Medicare Could Save Billions

BY YUVAL ROSENBERG: Medicare could have saved almost $80 billion last year alone if it had paid what the U.K. does for prescription drugs that don’t have any competitors, according to a new study in Health Affairs.

The study looked at Medicare costs for 79 brand-name drugs that are only available from a single source and have been on the market for three years or more. The researchers compared Medicare Part D spending on those drugs to prices in the U.K., Japan and Ontario. They found that the U.S. price, after rebates, was 3.6 times higher than in the U.K., 3.2 times higher than in Japan and 4.1 times higher than in Ontario — and the longer a drug has been on the market, the greater the price difference. (read more)

OPINION: ‘Medicare for All’ is a job-killer for America’s largest industry

BY BETSY MCCAUGHEY: If you’re looking for work, this is the best job market in 50 years. The economy is soaring.

But Democrats running for president are pitching plans that will destroy millions of jobs, doubling the number of people out of work. New Yorkers will be among the hardest hit. 

Consider Medicare for All. It will wipe out a staggering 2.5 million health-insurance and health-care jobs nationwide, causing the number of unemployed people in this country to jump by almost half. Here in New York, it will throw tens of thousands out of work. (read more)

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