Spring 2019: Healthcare Updates to Know

A new season has arrived, and it brings new changes within the healthcare industry. To help keep you informed about these issues and how they may affect you, we’ve compiled the most important industry news.

FDA Commissioner Resigns

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the 23rd commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, recently resigned after less than two years in the role. Sworn in on May 11, 2017, Gottlieb was known for his efforts to regulate the tobacco and e-cigarette industries, lower drug prices and address the growing opioid crisis. He is scheduled to spend his last day on April 5 testifying against Congress on the budget proposal for fiscal year 2020. It was announced on March 11 that he will be replaced by Norman Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Maryland. Sharpless is a proponent of big data and previously founded two biotech companies.

CMS Publishes New National Health Expenditures Data

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services has posted new data on projected national health expenditures for 2018-2027. The organization estimates healthcare spending will increase to 19.4 percent of the country’s GDP in 2027, including a 4.8 percent growth in 2019. In addition, higher fee-for-service payment updates are expected to result in faster Medicare spending growth. Other notable numbers for this year include projections for a 4.6 percent increase in prescription drug spending, a 5.1 percent rise in hospital spending and a growth of 5.4 percent in spending on physician and clinical services.

New National Health Security Strategy Released by HHS

As part of a federal law that requires the development of a National Health Security Strategy every four years, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released a report addressing the country’s ability to address threats in the following areas: extreme weather and natural disasters, pandemic and infectious diseases, technology and cyber threats and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. The three primary objectives the HHS is focused on to meet these challenges are:

  1. Prepare, mobilize and coordinate the Whole-of-Government to bring the full spectrum of federal medical and public health capabilities to support SLTT authorities in the event of a public health emergency, disaster or attack.
  2. Protect the nation from the health effects of emerging and pandemic infectious diseases and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats.  
  3. Leverage the capabilities of the private sector.

CMS Seeks Recommendations from Americans on Eliminating Barriers to Insurance Sales Across State Lines

This request from the CMS for information is geared toward making it easier for insurers to sell insurance coverage from state-to-state to individuals. It’s intended to promote competition among insurers while giving potential customers a wider selection of health plans.

U.K. Conference Boasts New Technology Efforts to Enhance Healthcare

More than 4,000 people from 65 countries were recently in attendance at the annual Future Healthcare conference in London to view new technology efforts and innovations designed to improve the healthcare industry. Highlights included a technique that lets scientists gather more detail from MRIs to detect dementia earlier, utilization of secure blockchain technology for patients to more easily view and share their data with clinicians and mobile cancer screening that could allow for earlier intervention and reduce the mortality rate.

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