Andy Rubin, father of Android, left Google more than two years ago to start his own adventures. Not long afterwards, it was believed that he would be making his own smartphone under a new “Essential” company. He did make a big announcement earlier this month, but it was for a different product for a different startup. It seems that the Essential phone, or something related to it, is still on track and, based on a Twitter post, will finally be revealed at the end of the month. Not much is known about the Essential phone, aside from a few choice teasers from Rubin himself last March and a GFX sighting last month. It hinted at a nearly bezel-free screen that may even best the Galaxy S8. The specs have also been promising, sporting the cream of the crop as far has hardware goes.It seems that Rubin and his Essential company are ready to finally reveal all. A new Twitter account has been set up with only two tweets as of this writing. The first was to announce that a formal announcement is going to be made on the 30th. The other is a teaser that could be interpreted in two ways.The image shows a silhouette of what is unmistakably a phone with something jutting out from the top. Given accessories like Insta360’s cameras and Rubin’s involvement in the Lighthouse smart home camera, the chances are good that this would also be something similar.Now the big question is whether Essential’s big reveal will be just about that accessory or if it will be about both a smartphone and an accessory. And if it is indeed a smartphone, will it even run Android? All will be revealed, hopefully, next week so stay tuned.SOURCE: @Essential Story TimelineAndy Rubin is parting ways with GoogleAndy Rubin created Android: now he’s making the “Essential” smartphoneAndy Rubin’s Essential phone details begin to spillAndy Rubin’s Essential phone pops up at GFXBenchLighthouse is Android inventor Andy Rubin’s secret project
Story TimelineAlexa update turns your Echo devices into intercomsWith new TV and AV controls, Alexa inches closer to ruling the Internet of ThingsAlexa music for activities wants to help you hook-up Making skills for voice agents isn’t just a hobby now, with Amazon opening up its wallet for those who make popular skills for Alexa. Intended to encourage developers to adopt Alexa as their virtual assistant platform of choice, the reward will be offered to those making skills in the US, UK, and Germany initially. However, Amazon is playing coy with exactly how much developers might hope to make. It’s also something of a black box on just what construes good “engagement” for an Alexa skill. “We consider a variety of factors to measure customer engagement such as minutes of usage, new customers, recurring customers, customer ratings, and more,” there retailer says in its developer FAQ. Those responsible for making skills themselves get access to metrics like how many unique users they’re getting, along with total sessions, utterances, and intents, but not a specific engagement rating itself.Amazon began a trial of the rewards system in May, though only for those responsible for the top skills in the Games, Trivia & Accessories category. From today, it’s expanding that to six extra categories. Anybody who makes highly-engaging skills in the Education & Reference, Food & Drink, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle, Music & Audio, and Productivity categories is also eligible for a reward.According to the company, the track record of engaging skills shows a few commonalities. Most importantly is that they’re voice first: while Amazon does have the Echo Show, with its touchscreen display, that’s still responsible for the minority of user experiences with Alexa. Instead, most people will still interact with the agent using voice, and there things like keeping prompts brief and conversational are essential, Amazon suggests. Meanwhile, keeping content fresh with new material, offering a unique proposition that makes life easier for users, and taking advantage of commonly sticky content like games are also suggested. In short, it’s much of the same patterns that make smartphone apps popular, only without relying on a screen. Amazon has an edge in Alexa skills presently, not least because it had the original Echo on the market significantly earlier than Google’s Home went on sale. However it can’t afford to slow down developer engagement. Most regular users aren’t going to want to manage more than one voice agent or smart speaker in their home, and with Apple’s Siri-powered HomePod arriving by the end of the year there’s some big competition Alexa will have to fend off. According to Amazon, it’ll be calculating its Alexa skill engagement rankings on a monthly basis, and making payouts accordingly. The three geographies will be treated individually, too, so popular skills in Germany might be different, say, from those in the US.
Essential Phone Gallery Essential, in contrast, has far more conservative goals, at least for the moment. It also has a new age to benefit from, where establishing yourself as a hardware developer has never been easier. “You can be in your garage and make hardware pretty much first time,” Rubin says. “The supply chain is matured, China has come online, you can FedEx stuff and get it back a week later. It’s a lot easier to set up a company.”Rubin and his team are counting on that for Essential’s ecosystem of modular accessories. While the company plans to release its own add-ons every few months, it knows it can’t do everything, or fill every niche. Instead, the expectation is that other companies will see the value of the Essential Phone’s clever wireless connector, and build for that too. They’ll have more than just a phone to work with, of course. Essential has already revealed the Essential Home, a smart home hub with a huge, circular touchscreen, that is expected to offer everything from multimedia control through connected lighting to a question-answering AI. That will have the same modular connector on the back as the Essential Phone will, so that accessories for one will be cross-compatible with the other. Down the line, though, Essential says it’s working on a number of other things that are yet to be announced. There’s no limit on form-factor, either, which suggests there’s more to the company – and the path it is paving for artificial intelligence – than just phones and home hubs. MORE: Essential Phone first-impressionsIt’s clear that Rubin and his team love hardware. Playground’s 60+ engineers on staff might be instrumental to the process of deciding which companies to invest in, but they’re also always keeping an eye open for an opportunity to build something new themselves in the market gaps they spot. “When you don’t see stuff coming through the front door,” Rubin concludes, “when you have engineers on the staff, you go make something.” “If you look at the software platforms … they happen in cycles, and these cycles are around twelve years,” Rubin told media this week at Playground HQ in Palo Alto, CA. “What is the next OS? What is the next platform? I think it’s AI. It’s a slightly different AI to what we see today. Today we see a lot of pattern matching, a lot of computer vision for things like self-driving cars.”Rubin’s goal, though, is altogether more personal. His vision of an AI is more akin to the predictive replies Gmail now offers in the Android, which learn from your past messages to try to echo your voice. “The virtual version of you that’s operating in this phone,” he explains, “that’s the destination of this company.”Some of the companies under Playground’s umbrella are working on AI’s of that ilk, like Lighthouse’s camera which you can question with natural language to find out when the kids got home from school. Still, with around 20 startups on the books, you start to do what Rubin describes as “negative pattern matching”: identifying the things that should be happening, but that aren’t. Essential is the first attempt to occupy that white space, and it’s also an opportunity to make a positive out of what many would see as a negative. “One of the things we recognized when we built the [phone] is that there’s power in being small,” Rubin explained. “You have to find new ways.” The Essential Phone won’t be huge out of the gate, even with all the pre-launch hype, so the answer is to find some advantage to that, rather than be hamstrung by it. In Essential’s case, one of those advantages is a greater ability to poise on the cutting edge. Apple and Samsung, he argues, can’t afford to cherry-pick the very latest components and bleeding-edge technologies, because they have to deliver hundreds of millions of devices. Anything they decide to include in their flagship phones has to scale to the size of their market. For the guy who once operated the mighty levers of Android as a whole, you might suspect a smartphone startup like Essential would be small fry for Andy Rubin. The ex-Googler and current head of product incubator Playground didn’t intend to get into hardware development, at least not himself. His focus at Playground has been artificial intelligence, though not the sort that you’d find running Wikipedia searches and pulling down weather forecasts in Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home.
The FAA is about to restrict the areas in which you can fly your drones. Starting next week, it will be illegal to fly your drones anywhere near one of seven nuclear energy sites, a ban established in the interest of national security. This is the first time the FAA has issued a drone ban at the request of the Energy Department, which asked the FAA to use its authority to create the restricted airspace. Airspace restrictions applied specifically to drones aren’t new, but they are growing in number. These restrictions aim to keep both people and data safe, depending on the area being protected. Current restrictions ban operating drones near airports, for example, out of fear that a drone could collide with a plane and cause a catastrophe.It is also illegal to operate drones around or over military bases, another safety measure to prevent both spying and potential attacks. More recently, the FAA used its Title 14 authority to ban flying drones over certain Interior Department sites, such as large dams. Though some restrictions are designed to keep people safe from falling drones or accidents resulting from drones, other restrictions appear to be a preemptive move against surveillance that could be used for cyberattacks or terrorist attacks.AdChoices广告These latest restrictions, which will go live on December 29, appear to cover the latter. All seven sites (listed below) feature nuclear production and/or research facilities, some active, others in the process of being decommissioned. Restricting travel within 400ft of these sites will help prevent drones from being used to conduct surveillance on the facilities.Hanford Site, Franklin County, WAPantex Site, Panhandle, TXLos Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NMIdaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, IDSavannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SCY-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, TNOak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
On the sound side, MEGABOOM 3’s bigger passive radiators should make for a louder-sounding speaker with implements in the low-end. Having spent some time listening to the speaker myself, I can say it definitely pumps out more bass than you’d expect, given the 8.9-inch height. Happily that’s without sacrificing on treble, though. Bluetooth range has been increased by 50-percent, now coming in at up to 150 feet. There’s a new app, too, which now consolidates Ultimate Ears’ BOOM and MEGABOOM models into one place. You still get all of the old features, including a custom equalizer, remote on/of, and PartyUp to sync up to 150 speakers together to play the same thing. New, though, is the Magic Button on the top of the BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3. As with the old speakers, you can tap it once to toggle between play and pause, and double-tap it to skip forward a track. However, you can also long-press it to power up the speaker, connect to your smartphone, and start playing a preselected favorite playlist – either in Apple Music if you’re paired to an iPhone, or Deezer Premium if you’re using an Android device. You can configure up to four playlists in the Ultimate Ears app, and then long-press again on the Magic Button to cycle between them. Ultimate Ears tells me it’s working on adding support for remote playlist access for other apps and streaming services. As for colors, the BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3 will be offered in Night (Black), Sunset (Red), Lagoon (Blue), and Ultraviolet (Purple). Apple Stores will also have two exclusive finishes: Denim (Dark Blue) and Cloud (Light Blue). The BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3 will go on sale in the US, and select countries in Europe and Asia, in September. It’ll be priced at $149.99 for the BOOM 3 and $199.99 for the MEGABOOM 3 – each $50 less than their predecessors – while the POWER UP will be $39.99. Gone is the thick rubber bar running down the front of each speaker, though the sizable – and easily-squeezed – volume control buttons remain. The fabric, too, has been updated, with a tighter weave and a more iridescent look. It’s the same material as used for clothing for emergency services personnel, Ultimate Ears says, underscoring its ruggedness. In fact, the resilience of both the BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3 is improved all-round. They’re now IP67 dust and waterproof, versus the IPX7 of the old BOOM 2, and they also float, too. A new hanging loop has been added to the back. Ultimate Ears has revealed its new BOOM 3 and MEGABOOM 3 Bluetooth speakers, making them more rugged, longer-lasting, and more affordable than the old pair. It’s also taken the opportunity to give the two new speakers an aesthetic revamp, with the result being a cleaner and more modern-looking design. Story TimelineUltimate Ears PartyUp pairs 50+ speakers for group streamingUltimate Ears BOOM 2 and UE MEGABOOM get Amazon Alexa supportUltimate Ears Megablast and Blast Review: Alexa cuts the cord Even if you’re not hurling them into swimming pools, the other design tweaks make a lot more sense too. The charging port – still microUSB, since Ultimate Ears tells me it’s not convinced USB-C is mainstream enough yet – is now on the back, under a rubber flap, rather than on the bottom. It comes after owners of the old speakers said they’d prefer not to have to invert the whole thing in order to charge it. A full charge lasts up to 16 hours on the BOOM 3, and up to 20 hours on the MEGABOOM 3. With the optional POWER UP charging dock, launched alongside the Ultimate Ears BLAST and MEGABLAST last year, you can top up either speaker by just placing it atop the base station. Charging takes around 2.75 hours. AdChoices广告
Story TimelineFacebook Lite Review: stripped for the next billion usersFacebook Lite adds emoji, video, batch image uploadsFacebook Messenger Lite is finally rolling out to the USFacebook Lite released in US for data-sipping socialFacebook Lite gets Community Help tools for disaster assistance The last few years have seen Facebook Lite grow significantly in popularity. The scaled-down social media app launched a few years ago as an option for users in countries with slow or poor data connections, along with benefiting those with aging Android devices that couldn’t quite keep up with the regular app’s flashier, data and resource-heavy features. Facebook Lite for Android is already in testing for the US market, and the good news is that an iOS version is now in the works as well. The growing appeal in the US for Facebook Lite is not just on the app’s 5MB size and reduced data usage, but also for users who are no longer keeping up with the latest smartphone year after year. The Lite app is optimized for older devices and slower operating systems, uses less power to limit battery drain, and also reduces the amount of data downloaded to save storage space.The first signs of an iOS version of Facebook Lite were spotted by the analytics firm SensorTower, while Facebook’s Help website has made mentions of the app. The bad news is that while the Android version is in testing for the US, the iOS version being tested is not for the US, and will be aimed at “select regions.”Facebook Lite has always prioritized Android, as that’s been the more popular platform overseas, especially in emerging markets where data is expensive and older devices are the most common. This makes sense. So it seems the iOS version may be following a similar path, with testing and an eventual debut in limited regions, followed by a possible US release some time later. Unfortunately there’s no timeline for this rollout, and Facebook hasn’t mentioned the countries where Lite for iOS is in testing.SOURCE 9to5Mac
We’ve plugged in a few numbers from Strategy Analytics in the following graph to give you a basic view of what’s going on here. The first quarter of the year – the first three months of the year – give us some clue on how each of these companies are handling the first months after the most busy season of all – the last three months of the year.This is not a perfect indicator for how each of these companies are doing overall. Apple, Samsung, Huawei – most of these brands make more devices than just smartphones. Instead we’re focusing here on how each brand is doing on smartphone shipments (also not a perfect indicator of smartphone sales), in the first three months of the year for the past four years.“Huawei surged 50 percent annually and outgrew all major rivals to ship 59.1 million smartphones worldwide during Q1 2019, up from 39.3 million in Q1 2018,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. “Huawei captured a record 18 percent global smartphone marketshare in Q1 2019,” said Mawston. “Huawei is closing in on Samsung and streaking ahead of Apple, due to its strong presence across China, Western Europe and Africa.”Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics, suggested that global smartphone shipments are “finally showing signs of stabilizing.” While the industry overall fell (in shipments) in this first quarter compared to last year in the same span, the fall was “less severe than before,” said Sui. “Global smartphone shipments are finally showing signs of stabilizing, due to relatively improved demand in major markets like China. The outlook for later this year is improving.” Huawei smartphone shipments are going up while Apple and Samsung smartphone shipments are going down. That’s what’s evidenced in the latest set of shipping numbers from Strategy Analytics. In the most recent report we get an idea of where the smartphone world is in the first quarter of the year 2019. Overall, smartphone shipment numbers have fallen over the last couple years in Q1, and total shipments this Q1 2019 are lower than they’ve been in 2018, 2017, and 2016’s same quarter.
The news comes from Russian media so take it for what it’s worth. The report says that the suggestion to completely ditch Android came from Russian company Rostelecom and businessman Grigory Berezkin. Berezkin co-owned Jolla in 2014 and started developing a Russian version of the Finnish company’s Sailfish OS. In 2018, the state-owned Rostelecom bought a 75% share in Berezkin’s Open Mobile Platform.Adopting Sailfish OS could be a disruptive change to the smartphone experience that Huawei has been famous, or infamous, for. Based on Nokia’s and Intel’s aborted MeeGo OS, Sailfish uses an almost completely different software stack, using only Android’s hardware layer and drivers for compatibility with existing phones. To date, very few commercially available phones have shipped with Sailfish OS.While it will free Huawei from any dependence on Google, it also prevents it from accessing the wide number of Android apps. Sailfish itself does have a compatibility layer to run Android apps, it is far from perfect. If supporting existing apps are its goal, Huawei might be better served by an Android fork.Additionally, adopting an OS modified by a Russian state company could also do more harm than good for Huawei’s image. The country has been notorious for its own state-sanctioned espionage and heavy censorship. If Huawei is trying to prove that it is free from such activities, using a Russian fork of an open source platform should probably be its last option. The clock is ticking for Huawei and in less than two months, it will officially be blocked from installing Google’s software on future devices. Not unless Google and Huawei are able to convince the US government otherwise, of course. With the stakes that high, Huawei was repeatedly been reported to be preparing a Plan B operating system for its future phones. While the Ark OK that has been mentioned in the past may still be based on Android, a new report suggests that Huawei is also looking into using a Russian-made version of Jolla’s Sailfish OS.
Its 5.2-liter V12 delivers not only those 715 horses – with peak power arriving at 6,500 rpm – but 664 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 rpm. It’s enough for a top speed of 211 mph, Aston Martin says.0-62 mph comes in just 3.6 seconds, while 0-100 mph takes 6.7 seconds. The car uses a new ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, which Aston Martin says has been specially beefed-up to deal with all the torque from the V12. A shorter final drive ratio delivers speedier in-gear acceleration, too. The big difference, of course, is the soft-top roof. In the case of this particular Volante, it’s an eight-layer sandwich of insulation and acoustic enhancement, and will be available in eight colors. They’ll include Bordeaux Red, Atlantic Blue, and Titan Grey. Inside, there’ll be a choice of six different headliners. AdChoices广告Aston Martin is also offering a 2×2 twill carbon fiber finish to the window screen surround, and even the option to expand that to the tonneau cover and rear waterfall. The roof opens in 14 seconds and closes in 16 seconds, and can be controlled either from within the car or from the DBS Superleggera Volante’s key. The automaker said it tested the mechanism through more than 100,000 cycles, effectively condensing a decade of use into a month.Despite the change in top, aerodynamics remain impressive. The DBS Superleggera Volante delivers up to 390 pounds of downforce, Aston Martin says, under 7 pounds less than the coupe. The front splitter and air dam work together to accelerate airflow under the car for more downforce. A deeper side strake helps remove lift and add high-speed stability, by drawing more air from the front wheel arch.As for the rear, there’s a double diffuser and a new version of the Aeroblade II system, specially designed for the convertible. Aston Martin then adds carbon ceramic brakes all-round – 410mm at the front, and 360mm at the rear – and 21-inch ten-spoke silver wheels with Pirelli P Zero rubber. Like the coupe, there’s front independent double wishbone suspension and rear multi-link, with adaptive damping. Aston Martin offers multiple drive modes, each affecting engine responsiveness and sound, along with suspension, transmission, and other settings. Things kick off at GT, and then escalate through Sport and finally Sport Plus. A “quiet start” option makes the Volante less vocal when it’s too early to wake the neighbors. Inside, there’s Aston Martin’s audio system and an 8-inch display as standard, along with a 360-degree camera system. Options include a Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade, ventilated seats, full leather trim, and various different combinations of carbon fiber in a variety of finishes. The automaker has various different wheels, caliper colors, louver finishes, and more.Even as standard, though, it’ll arrive with a premium price tag. Aston Martin says the DBS Superleggera Volante will start at $329,100 in the US – or roughly a $24k premium over the coupe – with deliveries expected to begin from Q3 of this year. Aston Martin has sliced the top off its beautiful GT, with the new DBS Superleggera Volante removing the roof to make hearing the 715 horsepower V12 even easier. The convertible version of the 2019 DBS Superleggera, this new car is in fact the fastest drop-top in Aston Martin’s history, so the company claims. Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante Gallery
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Analyzing The Court’s Possible Impact Consumers, small businesses and even the health insurance marketplace will face significant ramifications depending on how the court rules. Kaiser Health News: Awaiting The Court Ruling, A Consumer Guide To Health Reform LawThe Supreme Court is expected to rule within a week on some key constitutional challenges brought by states against the 2010 health care overhaul law. The decision will have sweeping ramifications for consumers, state officials, employers and health care providers, including hospitals and doctors” (Carey, 6/20). The Associated Press/Washington Post: The Possible Impact On Small Businesses After The Supreme Court Rules On Health CareSmall business owners will be watching when the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The overhaul of the nation’s health care system requires that by 2014, all businesses with more than 50 employees must provide health care benefits that are deemed affordable under the law (6/20).The Wall Street Journal: Not Just Insurance Is At StakeIt isn’t just large employers, medical businesses and constitutional scholars who are invested in the court’s decision. Chain restaurants, tanning salons, breast-feeding advocacy groups and others far afield of health care have a lot riding on whether the law stays in place (Adamy, 6/20).CNN Money: Exchanges Could Survive Even If Health Reform Law Dies The Supreme Court’s review of health reform means any or all of the law’s mandates, such as coverage of adult dependents up to age 26 and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, could be in jeopardy. But health insurance exchanges — which also must be set up as part of the law — may survive and flourish even if the entire Affordable Care Act is struck down, industry experts said. … Regardless of what happens to the health reform law, “there is bipartisan support for states having some kind of health insurance exchanges,” said Christopher Condeluci, a tax attorney with law firm Venable LLP and former tax counsel to the Senate Finance Committee (Kavilanz, 6/21).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. First Edition: June 28, 2012 Today’s headlines set the scene for the much-anticipated Supreme Court health law decision, expected out later this morning. The New York Times: Awaiting Ruling On Fairly Simple Questions About A Complex Health LawThe Supreme Court is expected to announce on Thursday morning its decision on the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law in 2010 — an act of Congress thousands of pages long, containing hundreds of changes costing hundreds of billions of dollars and affecting nearly every American from cradle to grave (Cushman, 6/27).Reuters/Chicago Tribune: Supreme Court To Deliver Obama Healthcare Law RulingThe nine justices are scheduled to take the bench at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on the last day of the high court’s term to read their final opinions, including their decision in the epic legal battle over the healthcare law (Vicini, 6/28).The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court To Decide On Health LawOn the final day of its 2011-12 term, the high court will deliver its opinion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Mr. Obama signed on March 23, 2010. The first constitutional challenge to the law was filed that same day. The central question before the court was whether Congress could require most Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. The court could uphold the entire law, nullify part of it or strike it down completely. All of Washington was prepared to react within minutes of the ruling, which was expected to come shortly after 10 a.m. EDT. Republicans said they would push to repeal any parts of the law that survived the court’s review (Kendall/Radnofsky/Bravin, 6/28).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: A 10 A.M. Start, Then Some Tense WaitingDon’t expect the justices to announce the health-care ruling as soon as they take the bench at 10 a.m. The court has three cases left to decide and it will very likely announce the other two decisions first (Kendall, 6/27).Politico: Supreme Court Health Care Ruling: Win-Lose ScenariosPredicting the outcome is a guessing game and a perilous one. But every Washington player worth his or her salt has a game plan for all possible scenarios. Here’s a pregame look at the best- and worst-case results for key participants in the health-care reform saga — and how they’ll try to spin the decision to the hilt (Gerstein, 6/28).USA Today: Expect Swift Opinions In Supreme Court Health Care RulingTea Party and union members, liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats have two things in common as the Supreme Court prepares to announce its verdict on President Obama’s health care law Thursday. They have no clue what the court will decide. And they will have plenty to say outside the court immediately after — in high praise or denunciation (Wolf, 6/27).The Associated Press/Washington Post: States Consider Divergent Responses Ahead Of Supreme Court Ruling On Federal Health Care LawAs the nation awaits the Supreme Court ruling on President Barak Obama’s health care overhaul, states across the country are considering how they will respond to the historic decision. Some Democratic-led states vow to push ahead with various provisions no matter what happens. In some Republican territories, elected officials insist they will try to hold off on implementing the law, even if the court upholds it. And most states are bound to miss key deadlines if the law or even pieces of it survive (6/27).The Wall Street Journal: Health Ruling Won’t Cure States’ IllsNo matter how the Supreme Court rules Thursday on the federal health-care law, states will face huge struggles paying for ballooning health expenses and swelling uninsured populations—a problem that has prompted some states to draft their own overhaul plans (Radnofsky, Burton and Levitz, 6/27).Los Angeles Times: White House Unusually Quiet Before Supreme Court Healthcare RulingThe ruling on Obama’s biggest domestic accomplishment could be among the most consequential events in his presidency, but he will learn about it at the same time as the rest of the nation, receiving no advanced warning as he does for such government actions as the release of unemployment statistics (Parsons, Mascaro and Hennessey, 6/27).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Obama Prepares Three Speeches Ahead Of Health-Care RulingThe White House has kept its preparations for the Supreme Court’s decision on President Barack Obama’s health care law close to the vest. Mr. Obama, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday, the West Wing is merely “waiting for an opinion, a decision, and we’ll assess” (Lee, 6/27).The New York Times’ The Caucus: No Matter What Court Decides, Health Care Law Has ‘Got To Go,’ Romney SaysMitt Romney may not know how the Supreme Court is going to rule on President Obama’s health care plan on Thursday, but he did have one prediction at a campaign rally here on the eve of the decision: “My guess is they’re not sleeping real well at the White House tonight” (Parker, 6/27).The New York Times’ The Caucus: In 2006 Video, Romney Calls Health Care Mandate ‘Essential’ On the eve of the Supreme Court’s health care ruling Thursday morning, a Democratic group has uncovered what it said was fresh evidence of Mitt Romney’s one-time embrace of the individual insurance mandate that he now scorns. Video of Mr. Romney from a March 2006 news conference when he was governor of Massachusetts shows the presumptive Republican nominee praising the passage of an individual mandate in the legislature as an “essential” part of the reforms he advocated (Shear, 6/28).The Associated Press/Washington Post: For Obama And Romney, Health Care Ruling Will Start Fundraising Storm, Fresh Blizzard Of AdsBarely four months before the nation votes, one of the biggest factors in the fight for the White House still is a mystery. That will change on Thursday. The Supreme Court’s expected ruling on President Barack Obama’s sweeping federal health care law will shape the contours of the presidential campaign through the summer and fall. Both Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are primed to use the ruling — whatever it is — for political gain (6/27).The New York Times’ The Caucus: Poll Roundup: Swing States And Health Care Other polls have been released in the last few days. A new ABC News/Washington Post national survey found that while most Americans express dissatisfaction with the health care law, about the same number are dissatisfied with the nation’s health care system. As the country waits for the Supreme Court to issue its decision on the legislation, 56 percent rate the nation’s health care system unfavorably, and 52 percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the health care law. Yet 75 percent of Americans express a favorable view of the health care they personally receive (Kopicki, 6/27).Los Angeles Times: CalPERS Considers Revamping Health Plans To Lower Its Medical TabCalifornia’s biggest healthcare buyer isn’t happy about its $7-billion annual medical bill climbing almost 10% next year, and the state’s big insurers may be feeling the heat. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is preparing to rebid its health insurance business this fall for 1.3 million members, and two of its current plans, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California, are likely to face intense competition as the giant pension fund considers its options (Terhune, 6/28).Los Angeles Times: Jerry Brown Signs Budget That Relies On Voter-Backed Tax HikesThe tax question isn’t the only one hanging over the new budget, which takes effect Sunday. Republicans are threatening to withhold votes need to extend a fee on healthcare providers, and a controversy over how aggressively the state can scoop up money from defunct redevelopment agencies could lead to a legal faceoff with local governments (Megerian, 6/28).Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The initiative is designed to test whether this payment model will lower costs without undermining the quality of care. Modern Healthcare: More Than 450 Provider Organizations Joint Payment-Bundling InitiativeThe CMS on Thursday announced that more than 450 health care organizations will participate in the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative, a payment model program created in the health care reform law to test whether bundling payments for services in a single episode of care can improve quality and lower costs. Those selected organizations represent a wide range of healthcare providers — including not-for-profit and for-profit hospitals, academic medical centers, physician-owned facilities and post-acute providers — that were chosen by the CMS either as awardees for Model 1 starting in April, or as participants for the first phase of models 2, 3 and 4 that begins with Thursday’s announcement (Zigmond, 1/31). CQ Healthbeat: Federal Officials Approve Applications For Bundled Payment InitiativeMore than 500 health care organizations will participate in the Department of Health and Human Services’ bundled payments initiative, the agency announced Thursday. This effort will test whether paying groups of providers a lump sum for a patient’s treatment will lower costs without undermining the quality of care (Adams, 1/31). CMS OKs Applications For Bundled Payment Initiative
As GOP lawmakers and health law critics gloat, administration officials say they are listening to concerns from business and being flexible. The Washington Post’s Wonk Blog: The Politics Of Delaying ObamacareBy delaying a requirement that all large employers provide health insurance, the Obama administration heads off the unseemly spectacle of companies vowing to cut jobs or workers’ hours to avoid the costly mandate. But the late Tuesday action is not a free pass: It contributes to critics’ claims that the White House does not have the ability to launch its biggest legislative accomplishment on schedule (Kliff, 7/2).Politico: GOP Gloats Over Obamacare DelayObamacare opponents on Tuesday had a “We told you so” moment. … The administration defended the delay as an effort to provide flexibility to the business community, but it’s bringing negative attention to the law just as the White House and its health care allies launch a major campaign to sell Obamacare to the public. Enrollment in the exchanges starts in October (Millman, 7/2).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: GOP, Democrats Clash On Meaning Of Health-Law DelayRepublicans pounced on the Obama administration’s announcement late Tuesday that it would delay enforcement of the federal health law’s mandate on employers to offer workers coverage or pay a penalty, prompting some Democratic supporters of the law to praise the administration and others to pause for thought. GOP lawmakers were quick to say the shift was a sign the law wasn’t ready for prime-time — and that its most unpopular provision, the requirement that individuals carry coverage or pay a fee, should go too (Peterson and Radnofsky, 7/3).Politico: Valerie Jarrett On Employer Mandate Delay: We’re Just Listening To BusinessAccording to Jarrett, the law’s original reporting standards may have been unnecessary for businesses “that more than meet the minimum standards in the law.” She also compared the delay to a move to consolidate the law’s insurance application from 21 pages to three: “[W]e are working hard to adapt and to be flexible in employer and insurer reporting as we implement the law” (Cheney, 7/2).The Hill: Jarrett: ‘Full Steam Ahead’ For ObamaCare Marketplaces, Despite Business DelayWhite House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said the administration remained “full steam ahead” for the implementation of health insurance marketplaces, despite the announcement of a delay in a mandate requiring businesses to provide workers with health insurance. “We are full steam ahead for the Marketplaces opening on October 1,” Jarrett said in a blog post explaining the move on the White House website (Sink, 7/2). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Political Responses Swirl Around Administration’s Announcement
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Viewpoints: Republicans’ ‘Repeal Trap;’ ‘Insufferable’ Pajama Boy; ADHD Epidemic; ACLU’s Campaign Against Catholic Hospitals The Washington Post’s The Plum Line: The GOP Repeal Trap The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana, reports on a fascinating exchange between GOP Rep. Marlin Stutzman and a local meat market owner, Lee Albright, who likes the Affordable Care Act and quizzed the Congressman about the real world implications of the GOP repeal stance (Greg Sargent, 12/18). The Wall Street Journal: National Lampoon’s ObamaCare Vacation President Obama has responded to the ObamaCare debacle by bringing in Beltway liberal mastermind John Podesta as a senior West Wing hand, and he promptly announced his arrival by likening House Republicans to “a cult worthy of Jonestown” in an interview with Politico. The states running their own insurance exchanges are exacting more accountability for their ObamaCare failures. Enrollment and technical dysfunctions and security breaches akin to the 36 federal exchanges continue to beset Minnesota’s operation, called MNsure. On Tuesday, April Todd-Malmlov, the exchange’s executive director since 2011, resigned under political duress (12/18). Politico: Pajama Boy, An Insufferable Man-Child Pajama Boy’s place in Internet infamy was secured as soon as the insufferable man-child was tweeted out by Organizing for America. He is the face of a web ad that is the latest effort by the Obama team to leverage the holidays for conversation about Obamacare. “Wear pajamas,” the ad reads. “Drink hot chocolate. Talk about getting health insurance. #GetTalking.” … If he has anything to say about it, Obamacare enrollments will spike in the next few weeks in Williamsburg and Ann Arbor (Rich Lowry, 12/18). Bloomberg: Conservatives See the Light On High Deductibles The revelation that many plans in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges have high deductibles has put many of the law’s conservative opponents into a corner: Once in favor of high deductibles, these critics of Obamacare are suddenly worried about the risk to consumers. The data show why their new position makes more sense (Aaron Carroll, 12/18). The Fiscal Times: The Obamacare ‘Shotgun Wedding’ – Marry Or Lose Your HomeThe rollout of the Affordable Care Act has provided many real-world examples of this, but perhaps none so “unintended” as the consequences discovered by the Seattle Times this weekend. Carol Ostrom, The Times’ health reporter, told the story of 62-year-old newlyweds Sofia Prins and Gary Balhorn, who weren’t exactly the models of wild, starry-eyed romantics. Their nuptials were motivated by a stronger desire to keep their house out of the hands of the federal government, thanks to a little-known key provision of Obamacare. Their meager incomes made them eligible for a federally subsidized health plan, and their assets would be protected. Does Obamacare actually allow the federal government to seize homes and other assets? (Edward Morrissey, 12/19). Fox News: Republicans Can Win In 2014 If We Unite Around ObamaCare”A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln originally spoke these prophetic words in 1858 when describing the looming threat of the Civil War. Today, we Republicans should heed this warning as we look ahead to the challenges of the future – both for our Party and the country we all love. At this moment in time, the American people overwhelmingly agree with Republicans on the fundamental issue of next year’s elections: ObamaCare (Scott Brown, 12/18). And on other issues -The New York Times: An Epidemic Of Attention Deficit Disorder The hard-sell campaign by drug companies to drive up diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., and sales of drugs to treat it is disturbing. The campaign focused initially on children but is now turning toward adults, who provide a potentially larger market (12/18). Los Angeles Times: Are Catholic Hospitals Bad For Women’s Health? ACLU Says Yes. A word of caution: If you are a woman of child-bearing age, Catholic hospitals may be hazardous to your health. Why? Because Catholic-affiliated hospitals, which now account for one of every nine acute-care hospital beds in the country, aren’t allowed to provide the medically accepted standard of care if it conflicts with Catholic teachings (Robin Abcarian, 12/18). Roll Call: Congress Must Address The Long-Term Care Workforce Direct-care work is undervalued and underpaid, in large part because these jobs are considered “low skill” and are performed primarily by a female workforce, more than half of whom are women of color. But ask any individual who needs personal care services — or their family members — and you are likely to find that the most valued person on the care team is the aide. … Fortunately, the Commission on Long-Term Care’s majority and minority reports included a number of recommendations that Congress should get behind to build a 21st-century, direct-care workforce: better training and opportunities for career advancement; rate setting policies that guarantee wages sufficient to attract committed workers and reduce turnover; integration of direct-care workers into care teams; and improved data collection to inform policy decisions (Jodi M. Sturgeon, 12/18). New England Journal of Medicine: Accelerating The Adoption of High-Value Primary Care — A New Provider Type Under Medicare? Although the proposed Medicare physician payment reform is an important step in the right direction, we believe that a bolder approach is needed to accelerate the adoption of [advanced primary care practice] APCP. We propose that Medicare adopt APCP as a new provider category, with its own eligibility standards and accountability for performance on patient outcomes, care, and resource use, linked to a new payment approach (Dr. Richard J. Baron and Karen Davis, 12/18).New England Journal of Medicine: Political Tug-of-War and Pediatric Residency Funding One of many effects of the government shutdown was the defunding of the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) Payment Program. … With this year’s CHGME funding appropriation far from certain, pediatric residents and fellows are being paid out of clinical and other reallocated revenue — which undoubtedly creates pressures in other parts of the children’s health care system. Though this stopgap measure helps to continue the training of pediatricians and the care of their patients, we hope that in the future, GME funding can avoid being caught in this type of political tug-of-war (Drs. Charlene A. Wong, Jeremiah C. Davis, David A. Asch and Richard P. Shugerman, 12/19).
Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs. Health Affairs: Lower Hispanic Participation In Medicare Part D May Reflect Program Barriers Despite the successes of Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program, an estimated 12.5 percent of Americans ages sixty-five and older do not have prescription drug coverage. It is possible that some who remain without coverage do so for rational economic reasons. … To investigate the role that race and ethnicity may play in Medicare Part D participation, we analyzed data from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study. We found that Hispanics were 35 percent less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have coverage, after individual predictors of prescription drug demand were controlled for. There was no statistically significant difference in Part D coverage between non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites (Brian McGarry, Robert Strawderman and Yue Li, May 2014). JAMA Internal Medicine: Preventing 30-Day Hospital ReadmissionsStudy: Randomized trials that assessed the effect of interventions on all-cause or unplanned readmissions within 30 days of discharge in adult patients hospitalized for a medical or surgical cause for more than 24 hours and discharged to home. … Tested interventions are effective at reducing readmissions, but more effective interventions are complex and support patient capacity for self-care. Interventions tested more recently are less effective (Dr. Aaron Leppin et al., 5/12). JAMA Internal Medicine: Effect Of Hospitalist Workload On The Quality And Efficiency Of Care We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 20,241 admissions of inpatients cared for by a private hospitalist group at a large academic community hospital system between February 1, 2008, and January 31, 2011. … The main outcomes were length of stay (LOS), cost, rapid response team activation, in-hospital mortality, patient satisfaction, and 30-day readmission rates. … The LOS increased as workload increased, particularly at lower hospital occupancy. For hospital occupancies less than 75%, LOS increased from 5.5 to 7.5 days as workload increased. … Increasing hospitalist workload is associated with clinically meaningful increases in LOS and cost (Dr. Daniel Elliott et al., May 2014).American Society Of Clinical Oncologists: Low-Dose Computed Tomography Lung Cancer Screening In The Medicare ProgramBased on evidence from the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently recommended annual low dose computed tomography (LDCT) lung cancer screening in patients age 55-80 with a 30 pack-year smoking history who currently smoke or quit in the past 15 years. Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare will cover this screening procedure. … In the complete and phased implementation scenarios, screening resulted in 141,000 and 101,000 more lung cancers detected (mostly Stage I), 37.5 million and 22.4 million more LDCT scans. … Our analyses suggest that LDCT screening will increase lung cancer diagnoses, result in a greater proportion of cases diagnosed at an early stage, and substantially increase Medicare expenditure (Joshua Roth et al., 5/14).Cancer: Lack Of Reduction In Racial Disparities In Cancer-Specific Mortality Over A 20-Year PeriodThe Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program was used to identify 2,713,474 patients diagnosed between 1988 and 2007 with either lung, breast, prostate, or colorectal cancer (the leading 3 causes of cancer-related mortality among each sex). … African Americans presented with a more advanced stage of disease and underwent definitive therapy less often than whites. … The survival gap for African Americans has not closed over time. Race-based differences in outcome persist independent of stage of disease and treatment, suggesting that additional strategies beyond screening and improving access to care, such as further research into tumor biologies disproportionately affecting African Americans, are needed to improve survival for African American patients with cancer (Dr. Ayal Aizer, 5/15).JAMA Surgery: Transfer Rates And Use of Post–Acute Care After Surgery At Critical Access Vs Non–Critical Access Hospitals We used data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (2005-2009) and American Hospital Association to perform a retrospective cohort study of patients undergoing common inpatient surgical procedures at CAHs or non-CAHs. … After adjustment for patient and hospital factors, the higher likelihood of transfer by CAHs vs non-CAHs persisted for 3 procedures: hip replacement, colorectal cancer resection and cholecystectomy, but differences in the use of post–acute care did not. … Hospital transfers occur more often after surgical admissions at CAHs. However, the proportion of patients at CAHs using post–acute care is equal to or lower than that of patients treated in non-CAHs. These results will affect the ongoing debate concerning CAH payment policy and its implications for health care delivery in rural communities (Dr. Adam Gadzinski et al., 5/14)Here is a selection of news coverage of other recent research:The Hill: Older Enrollees Could Lead To Higher Premiums, Study Says Health premiums in four states may spike this fall because of large numbers of older adults who signed up for Obamacare, according to a study from the conservative American Action Forum. The study released Friday found that older adults in Arkansas, Oregon, New Mexico and West Virginia signed up at much higher rates than young people in the health care law’s insurance exchanges. People over the age of 45 accounted for over 50 percent of enrollees despite making up only 30 percent of the population in those states (Al-Faruque, 5/9). Detroit Free Press: People Taking Statins Eat More Calories Than A Decade Ago, Study SaysPeople who took statins to lower their cholesterol levels ate more calories and fat in 2009-10 than did those who took them a decade earlier, raising the question of whether the drug provides a false sense of dietary security. Researchers who used data from a national health survey found that in 1999-2000, people who took statins ate fewer calories, by an average of 179 a day, and less fat than people who didn’t take them. The differences began to shrink, and by 2005-06, the difference was insignificant (MacVean, 5/11). Yahoo Health: Cancer Patients Rarely Requested Unnecessary Treatments Going to your doctor and demanding a treatment that is unwarranted may lead to unnecessary costs. But a new study of cancer patients suggests that this request is likely a rare occurrence. … The study included 2,050 encounters between 26 clinicians and their patients, … Dr. [Keerthi Gogineni Of the Abramson Cancer Center at University of Pennsylvania] and team found that only 8.6 percent of these encounters included a patient request or demand for treatment or testing. … This research by Dr. Gogineni and team will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s annual meeting (Jones, 5/15).MinnPost: Risk Of Dying In Hospital Increases On Weekend Regardless Of Admission Day, Study FindsVast research has suggested that patients who are admitted to a hospital on the weekend are more likely to die in the hospital than those with similar medical problems who are admitted Monday through Friday. This “weekend effect” has been documented for a variety of medical conditions, including heart attacks, stroke, head trauma and aneurisms. The reasons for the effect are not entirely clear, but the leading theory is that it’s due to reduced hospital staffing and/or access to specialists and certain kinds of treatments (Perry, 5/15). Research Roundup: Evaluating Hospitalists’ Workload; Hispanics And Medicare Part D This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
For the second year running, Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal has walked to Washington, D.C. Last year, O’Neal made the journey to raise the red flag over the closure of the hospital in his small eastern North Carolina town. This year, he walked to raise awareness of rural hospitals facing closure across the country. He arrived at the Capitol on Monday morning. (Hoban, 6/15) Clinics in East Haven and Branford are scheduled to close as Yale-New Haven Health System contends with higher state taxes and lower Medicaid reimbursement rates from the state, hospital executives said Monday. Yale-New Haven wants to close the two clinics to save about $1 million annually in lease payments for office space, said Vin Petrini, senior vice president of public affairs at Yale New Haven Health System. (Sturdevant, 6/15) Los Angeles Times: Doctor Linked To Drug Deaths Allowed To Practice On Probation Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Health Briefs: New UC Operating Room North Carolina Health News: N.C. Mayor Arrives In D.C. On Quest To Support Rural Hospitals With a midnight deadline hours away, lawmakers on Monday approved a $117.5 billion state budget that pumps more money into child care, health care and higher education. (Calefati, 6/15) State Highlights: N.C. Mayor Walks To D.C. To Highlight Rural Hospitals; Sacramento County Wants To Reopen Clinics For Immigrants News outlets report on health care developments in North Carolina, California, Connecticut, Washington, Michigan, New York, D.C., West Virginia and Ohio. California Healthline: Prop.13 Changes Could Affect Health Care The Washington Post: Children’s National Medical Center To Pay $12.9 Million To Settle Fraud Suit The San Jose Mercury News: California Budget: Senate And Assembly Approve A $117.5 Billion Spending Plan West Virginia program that protects seniors from health care fraud and abuse is getting a boost from the federal government. U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito on Monday announced just over $242,000 in federal funding for the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services for Senior Medicare Patrol Program projects. The program offers education and training to increase s awareness and understanding of health care programs. (6/16) The New York Times: New York Comptroller, Taking Aim At ‘Three-Quarter’ Homes, Urges City Agencies To End Referrals The office of the New York City comptroller plans to send letters on Tuesday to City Hall and various agencies demanding that they take steps to ensure that people in need of housing are not sent to illegal boarding homes, known as “three-quarter” houses, and to provide information that will help the office compile a list of such homes. The actions by the comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, who is responsible for auditing city agencies, follow an article published by The New York Times last month on three-quarter homes, flophouses paid for with government money that cater to addicts and those with nowhere else to go. The article examined the practices of the operator of some of the most troubled homes, Yury Baumblit, a felon accused of taking kickbacks on Medicaid fees for drug treatment while forcing people to live in squalor. (Barker, 6/15) Hartford Courant: Yale-New Haven: Taxes, Cuts To Force Closings In Branford, East Haven Children’s National Medical Center has agreed to pay $12.9 million to settle a suit claiming the hospital submitted false information to receive Medicaid and federal funding, the U.S. Justice Department announced Monday. (Zauzmer, 6/15) The state is appealing part of a federal judge’s ruling that sought to ensure timely competency services for mentally ill defendants. Health officials said they are only appealing the portion that mandates competency evaluations within seven days of a judge’s order. They said one week was not enough time to allow some defendants who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to stabilize. Evaluators send people to hospitals before their mental state is fully understood, officials said. (Bellisle, 6/15) The Associated Press: State Appeals Judge’s Order For Timely Mental Competency Evaluations University of Cincinnati Medical Center opened an expanded state-of-the-art “hybrid” operating room last week. The suite is designed to make heart surgery less invasive, offer non-surgical valve replacement and repair, introduce catheter-based treatment of stroke and blood vessel aneurysms and reduce recovery time for patients.The 854-square-foot room is on the hospital’s second floor and connects the existing catheterization laboratory with the operating room. The expansion is a $6 million investment for UC Health. (Saker, 6/15) Los Angeles Times: In Reversal, Sacramento County Wants To Restore Clinic Access To Immigrants The Detroit Free Press: You Are Paying More For Health Care, Survey Finds The rise in health care costs is beginning to slow for some southeast Michigan businesses. But not because health care is getting less expensive. A new employer survey shows that businesses and government employers are dealing with the growing expense of employee health care by passing more of the costs on to workers and introducing high-deductible insurance plans. (Reindl, 6/16) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Associated Press: Senators Announce Funding For W.VA. Seniors Program An Orange County doctor accused of gross negligence in the care of two patients who fatally overdosed on drugs he prescribed has been placed on probation by the Medical Board of California. Van H. Vu, who owns a busy pain clinic in Huntington Beach, agreed not to contest the board’s accusation, to take classes in prescribing and record keeping and to submit to an outside practice monitor for five years. In exchange, the board allowed Vu to keep his license and continue prescribing potent painkillers. (Girion, 6/15) Proposed changes to Proposition 13, California’s landmark property tax initiative, could generate as much as $9 billion a year for state and local governments. In addition to helping schools, public safety and infrastructure, the money would improve delivery of health care services, proponents say. Opponents say tinkering with the landmark initiative passed in 1978 would harm the state, including the health care delivery system. (Lauer, 6/15) Facing a $55-million deficit during the Great Recession, Sacramento County officials made a choice: To save money, they would close their free health clinics to people who entered the country illegally. Six years later, they want to reverse that decision. (Karlamangla, 6/15)
Bloomberg: Is This Cancer Treatment Worth It? New Tool Offers Patients Data For the first time, a consortium of top U.S. cancer hospitals will provide patients with guidance about the cost of drugs used in their treatment, helping address a concern for many people undergoing a major medical event — what the financial repercussions of their condition are. The information will supplement summaries the group has provided for 20 years on the effectiveness, side effects and evidence backing the therapies. The guidelines are being issued during a national conversation about the cost of drugs that has become a focus of Democratic presidential candidates and weighed on biotechnology stocks. (Cortez, 10/13) Bloomberg: Drugs Could Soon Come With A Money-Back Guarantee In late June, Susan DeVore asked an auditorium filled with medical-industry executives if any would be willing to link the prices of the drugs and devices they sell to how well those products work. DeVore, whose company, Premier, helps 3,400 U.S. hospitals make purchasing decisions, recalls seeing about a half-dozen hands go up. “I think it’s a little bit scary for them,” she says. But it’s a question they should get used to hearing, she adds. “Health systems and physicians are more interested in it today than they’ve ever been.” (Tozzi, 10/12) The Fiscal Times: 4 Ways To Get Cheaper Medications As Drug Prices Soar Experts Offer Consumers Tips For Getting A Better Deal On Prescription Drugs As Costs Spiral Two news outlets report on ways that consumers can check to make sure they are getting the best deal for their money on drug costs. Also, some drug makers are concerned about increasing pressure by doctors and hospitals to tie drug prices to effectiveness. Early last year, drugmaker Mallinckrodt Plc spent $1.3 billion to buy a company that sold an injectable form of acetaminophen — essentially Tylenol in a liquid solution. Within months, the new owner more than doubled the price of the drug, called Ofirmev. Revenue from the medication shot up, too, and hospitals searched for ways to absorb the costs … In this case, hospitals were able to fight back by seeking other options, cutting into Mallinckrodt’s projected sales growth. In the fiscal third quarter, which ended in June, revenue from Ofirmev came in at $62 million. While that was a 17 percent increase from a year earlier, analysts had been estimating 37 percent growth on average, according to BMO Capital Markets. (Koons, 10/13) The sky-high price hikes in medications from companies such as Turing Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals are far from anomalies in the pharmaceutical industry. About one-third of Americans have been hit by an unexpected price increase in their medications during the past year, according to a recent poll by Consumer Reports. On average, the price hike was $39 per prescription, although one out of 10 consumers said they faced higher out-of-pocket costs of at least $100. (Picchi, 10/13) Bloomberg: This Drugmaker Suffered The Consequences Of Price Increases This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
David Kawai/Bloomberg Under house arrest in Vancouver, Huawei CFO lives in luxury and spends her days out shopping U.S. lawmakers introduce bipartisan bills targeting Huawei, ZTE, other Chinese telecom companies Gears of WTO about to come to a halt amid U.S. refusal to appoint new judges, Canada warns Trade minister Jim Carr said the WTO’s dispute settlement system will effectively stall in the next few months, and it won’t be good news Related Stories January 21, 20199:13 AM EST Filed under News Economy Join the conversation → More Email Comments Comment Facebook Twitter Brexit vote ups pressure on U.K., Canada to strike bilateral trade deal The operation of the World Trade Organization may soon stall because of U.S. delays in appointing new judges, Canada’s trade minister said as he prepares to convene another round of reform talks in Davos.Jim Carr, in an interview with Bloomberg’s Kathleen Hays in Tokyo, said the U.S. refusal to appoint judges to the appellate body of the 164-nation WTO means that in “the next number of months” the WTO’s dispute settlement system will effectively stall. That lends urgency to talks set to take place on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week.“The most urgent problem is the dispute settlement mechanism. Without any new judges being appointed, the gears are going to come to a halt. They’re going to slow down, and it will not be good news,” Carr said. Trudeau’s free-trade ambitions will be put to the test in 2019 Brexit vote ups pressure on U.K., Canada to strike bilateral trade deal Canada and 5 other nations pull trigger on world’s biggest trade deal — leaving America out in the cold This week’s talks will be missing representatives from the U.S. and China, the world’s two largest economies, as other nations try to navigate the giants’ trade fight. “You’re not going to have a durable and lasting reform of the WTO unless you have China and the United States involved. You can’t start there, though. But that’s where we’re going to have to end up,” Carr said.The trade minister’s comments come amid rising trade tensions globally, which have trade-reliant Canada — the world’s 10th-largest economy, for which exports make up about a quarter of gross domestic product — caught in the middle.Jim Carr, Canada’s international trade minister, speaks during the Ottawa Ministerial for World Trade Organization Reform in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018. Share this storyGears of WTO about to come to a halt amid U.S. refusal to appoint new judges, Canada warns Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Bloomberg News Canada, at the request of the U.S., arrested a Huawei Technologies Co. executive on Dec. 1, a move that has triggered a bitter, rising feud with Beijing. President Donald Trump has mused that he may abandon the case against the executive if he reaches a satisfactory trade deal with China, blurring the lines between trade posturing and law enforcement.‘Unacceptable’ SentenceChina has since seized two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig, and tour operator Michael Spavor — and sentenced a third, Robert Schellenberg, to death in a drug case after initially sentencing him to a prison term. Canada is seeking the release of Kovrig and Spavor and a more lenient sentence for Schellenberg.China and Canada are in a “tough patch” of a deep, longstanding relationship, Carr said. He called Schellenberg’s sentence “unacceptable” but said the countries will continue to work together.“This is not a relationship that began yesterday. It goes back decades. It’s sophisticated, it’s multilayered,” he said, adding: “So we have to talk about the ongoing, continuing commercial relationship between these two countries, and a way through sorting out the current problem.”‘Butchers Matter’Carr spoke in Japan, the largest economy in the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP trade deal. Canada is the second biggest. Formerly the TPP, it was saved after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal shortly after he took office.The first countries that ratified the CPTPP deal made their first two rounds of tariff cuts to start the year. Carr said there are “very positive reports already,” particularly among Canadian beef, pork and cereal producers, and that other countries are expressing interest “publicly and otherwise” in joining the pact.“I was at a supermarket earlier in the day in Tokyo and talked to a butcher about selling Canadian beef in Tokyo. We have this great picture of a four year old with a Canadian flag eating a piece of Canadian beef, and a butcher holding up this big slab of Canadian tenderloin,” Carr said. “So, butchers matter.”U.K. Trade TalksCanada continues to watch Brexit proceedings — the U.K. is Canada’s biggest European trading partner, and thus the crown jewel of an EU-Canada trade deal that provisionally kicked-in in late 2017.After Brexit, Canada and the U.K. aim to reach some kind of deal to, essentially, copy-and-paste the EU trade deal over with tweaks. There are “continuing discussions both at the official level and at the political level with the U.K. to make sure everybody understands where everybody else is coming from,” Carr said.As soon as possible after the U.K. exit from the EU, “we would like to sign an agreement with the U.K. which would be like the EU agreement. But we have to see what the conditions are,” Carr said. He said the U.K., despite not being a Pacific Rim nation, would also be welcome to apply to join the CPTPP.“If they want to apply, and are prepared to meet the standards, of course they would be considered,” he said.–With assistance from Kathleen Hays.Bloomberg.com Josh Wingrove and Yuko Takeo Reddit