NHPC 2016: Provider Engagement Can Unify Diverse Payment Reform Efforts

By Cornelia Hall, Master of Public Policy Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School, Class of 2017

This is the first entry in a three-part series on the AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference, held in Washington, DC, on February 1-2, 2016. 

At AcademyHealth’s 2016 National Health Policy Conference earlier this month, payment reform was a pervasive theme.  Its prominence was not surprising.  Indeed, in early 2015, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the agency’s goal to have 30% of traditional, fee-for-service Medicare payments tied to quality or value through alternative payment models by the end of 2016, and 50% by the end of 2018.  As the current sea change in health care moves the system towards these goals, the conference’s panelists explored various aspects of the transition to value-based payment. Speakers who discussed the issue included leaders in government, clinical practice, and private insurance.  They sent an overarching message that payment reform efforts will continue to take a variety of forms — on parallel tracks with cross-cutting themes — rather than a single approach.  Representatives from provider organizations particularly stressed the necessary groundwork for these efforts to be effective.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) under the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is operating dozens of payment- and quality-focused models and demonstrations across the country.  The breadth of payment models and their varying degrees of success represent different approaches to health care reform, such as population- and episode-based payment.  On his panel, CMMI Deputy Director Dr. Rahul Rajkumar noted that this breadth is designed to appeal to diverse providers that differ in type and readiness for payment reform.  Indeed, a health care system that has operated for decades with multiple payers, little care coordination, fragmented use of technology, and inconsistent definitions of quality care is undergoing monumental transformation.  The transition from fee-for-service to value-based payment thus involves some experimentation to identify the most effective approach. Read More

Jacobus and Catalyst Continue to Race for Approval of LEMS Drug

By Dalia Deak

The latest development in the race for approval between Jacobus Pharmaceutical Company and Catalyst Pharmaceuticals is a ‘refuse to file’ letter that the FDA issued to Catalyst indicating that Catalyst’s New Drug Application for Firdapse was incomplete. Both companies are competing for approval of slightly modified forms of a drug—3,4-diaminopyridine, or 3,4-DAP— to treat Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS). The winner will receive 7 years of exclusive marketing rights to the drug.

LEMS is an autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 3,000 people in the United States. It is a rare, debilitating disorder that is marked by progressive weakening of the muscles that often begins in young adulthood. The drug in question was initially discovered in the 1970s in Scotland, with researchers in Sweden demonstrating its use in LEMS patients in the 1980s. Jacobus Pharmaceutical Company has been providing a free base form of the drug to patients with a LEMS diagnosis since the early 1990s at no cost (with the exception of postage), though the drug had never received FDA approval.

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Evolving Industry Structures in Biosimilar Development

By Rachel Sachs

Yesterday, I had the privilege to moderate a fantastic event here at the Petrie-Flom Center on Assessing the Viability of FDA’s Biosimilars Pathway.  Bringing together expert panelists from legal practice (Donald R. Ware, Partner, Foley Hoag LLP), industry (Konstantinos Andrikopoulos, Lead IP Counsel, Manufacturing, Biogen, Inc.), and academia (W. Nicholson Price II, Assistant Professor of Law, University of New Hampshire School of Law), the event explored different aspects of the biosimilars issue, considering the guidances issued (and still to be issued) by the FDA, the role of the “patent dance” in biosimilar litigation, and whether Europe’s experience with biosimilars has helpful lessons for our own situation.  For those who weren’t able to make it, video of the event will be posted on the Petrie-Flom Center’s website soon.

But I wanted to write here about one of the very last questions we explored during the panel, because its implications are more far-reaching than we had the time to consider.  The situation is as follows:  In the decades after the Hatch-Waxman Act created a generic pathway for small-molecule drugs, companies typically specialized in developing either innovator or generic drugs, but not both.  And although generic drug companies had great capacity for innovating in manufacturing, they were not research companies in the way that we think about innovator companies.  The situation has changed somewhat over the years, as generic companies began to invest in innovative products, and as innovator companies put out authorized generics, but in general this broad division within industry has persisted.

In the biologic context, by contrast, the biosimilar applications being filed with the FDA are more typically being filed by innovator companies themselves or by subsidiaries thereof.  For instance, the only biologic approved in the United States thus far is marketed by Sandoz, which is part of the innovator company Novartis.  Instead of a situation in which innovators battle generic companies for access to the market, now innovator companies are battling themselves.  There are a host of reasons for this development, most notably including the complex manufacturing processes involved in the biologics space and the need for the development of expertise there.

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Women, Girls, and Mass Incarceration: A Hidden Problem

Goodwin-Headshot11By Michele Goodwin

Mass incarceration’s invisible casualties are women and children.  Too often, they are the forgotten in a tragic American tale that distinguishes the United States from all peer nations.  Simply put, the U.S. incarcerates more of its population than anywhere else in the world–and by staggering contrast.  While the U.S. locks away over 700 men and women for every 100,000, here are comparable figures from our peer nations:  England (153 in 100,000), France (96 in 100,000), Germany (85 in 100,000), Italy (111 in 100,000), and Spain (159, in 100,000).  The U.S. accounts for less than 5% of the globes population, yet locks away nearly 25%.  Sadly, this has grave social, medical, psychological, and economic consequences.

Congressional Briefing on Women, Girls, and Mass Incarceration

In a recent essay, published in the Texas Law Review, I explained that, the population of women in prison grew by 832% in the period between 1977-2007—nearly twice the rate as men during that same period. More conservative estimates suggest that the rate of incarceration of women grew by over 750% during the past three decades. This staggering increase now results in more than one million incarcerated in prison, jail, or tethered to the criminal justice system as a parolee or probationer in the U.S. The Bureau of Justice Statistics underscores the problem, explaining in a “Special Report” that “[s]ince 1991, the number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled, up 131%,” while “[t]he number of children with a father in prison has grown [only] by 77%.” Read More

Humanizing Pain: Advocacy, Policy and Law on Abortion, Execution and Juvenile Life Without Parole

By Robert Kinscherff

I recently attended a presentation on Fetal Pain: An Update on the Science and Legal Implications, jointly sponsored by the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior (Massachusetts General Hospital) and the Petrie-Flom Center (Harvard Law School).  Presenters were Amanda Pustilnik, JD (University of Maryland School of Law) and Maureen Strafford, MD (Tufts University School of Medicine). Video of the event is available on the website, and I encourage everyone to watch the full discussion for themselves.

Doctor Strafford delivered a masterful overview of the trajectory of scientific perspective and research about children and pain.  Over the course of her career, the medical perspective has transformed from “children do not feel pain” to “children do not remember pain” to inquiry into “when and how children feel pain.” Strafford described the medical complexities of understanding the physical and subjective aspects of pain as well as the impossibility of confidently “pinpointing” the exact point in fetal development when a neonate experiences pain.

Professor Pustilnik gave an equally compelling review of law and legal language regarding abortion, particularly law that specifically references fetal pain as a reason for limiting abortion.   This served to frame a conversation about pain and suffering in the law and the ways in which law reflects normative considerations and provides rhetoric (viewed respectively by partisans as “compelling” or “inflammatory”) to political discourse. In this case, discourse about fetal pain both attracts attention and is intended to facilitate empathy for the neonate. Read More

Update: Another Wave of ICD Settlements

By Zack Buck

There has been an update to a story I recently blogged about here.

As announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, another 51 hospitals have settled allegations that the hospitals placed implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) in the chests of patients without complying with Medicare’s mandatory waiting periods.  These 51 settlements amount to $23 million, meaning that the DOJ’s ICD review has now has resulted in settlements with more than 500 hospitals totaling more than $280 million.

According to the DOJ, this is the final stage of the investigation, concluding an initiative that has highlighted the tension that exists between fraud enforcement, medical necessity, and reimbursement standards (recent articles here, here, and here).

Monday, 2/22, Health Law Workshop with Tom Shakespeare

HLS Health Law Workshop: Tom Shakespeare

February 22, 2016 5:00 PM
Hauser Hall 102
Harvard Law School, 1575 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Download the Papers:
“Disability and social rights: Family and intimate relations”
“Nasty, Brutish, and Short? On the Predicament of Disability and Embodiment”

Tom Shakespeare is Senior Lecturer at Norwich Medical School, the University of East Anglia. From his website:

My primary research interests are in disability studies, medical sociology, and in social and ethical aspects of genetics. I have had a long involvement with the disabled people’s movement in UK and internationally. In the context of disability arts, I have also been active in arts and culture, and was a member of Arts Council England from 2003-2008.  While at Newcastle University, I developed an interest in science communication and public engagement, and helped develop the café scientifique movement in UK and across the world, as well as promoting sci-art projects.  During my five years at WHO, I helped produce and launch key reports such as the World Report on Disability (WHO 2011) and International Perspectives on Spinal Cord Injury (WHO 2013), and was responsible for the UN statement on forced, coerced and otherwise involuntary sterilization (WHO 2014).  This grew my interest in disability and international development.

I did my PhD at Cambridge University and then worked at the Universities of Sunderland, Leeds and Newcastle, before spending five years working at the World Health Organization in Geneva.  In February 2013, I started my current post at Norwich Medical School.  I continue to consult for WHO, World Bank and other UN agencies.

1993-1996             Lecturer, University of Sunderland

1996-1999             Research Fellow, University of Leeds

1999-2008             Research Fellow, University of Newcastle, where I co-founded and developed the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute.

2008-2013             Technical officer, Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, World Health Organization, Geneva.

For more information, visit his website.

‘The Week in Health Law’ Podcast

By Nicolas Terry

This week we interviewed Dayna Matthew, Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School. Professor Matthew brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of health law. She holds a joint appointment at the Colorado School of Public Health and is co-founder of the Colorado Health Equity Project, a medical legal partnership whose mission is to remove barriers to good health for low income clients by providing legal representation, research, and policy advocacy. twihl 5x5

We discussed her excellent new book, Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care.  The book discusses shocking disparities in US health care treatment and outcomes, and proposes a bold agenda for addressing them. Laws like the ACA and even the CRA (as presently written) are not capable of addressing present manifestations of bias (both inside and outside formal health care institutions). Professor Matthew develops the Biased Care Model as a core contributions to advance understanding of health and health care disparities. She also proposes concrete legislative changes, discussed on the show, to counteract biased care.

The Week in Health Law Podcast from Frank Pasquale and Nicolas Terry is a commuting-length discussion about some of the more thorny issues in Health Law & Policy. Subscribe at iTunes, listen at Stitcher RadioTunein and Podbean, or search for The Week in Health Law in your favorite podcast app. Show notes and more are at TWIHL.com. If you have comments, an idea for a show or a topic to discuss you can find us on twitter @nicolasterry @FrankPasquale @WeekInHealthLaw

Tomorrow, 3/2! The Limits to Consumerism in Healthcare: A lecture by Mary Anne Bobinski

medical doctor comforting senior patient

The Limits to Consumerism in Healthcare: A lecture by Mary Anne Bobinski
March 2, 2016 12:00 PM
Wasserstein Hall, Room 1010
Harvard Law School, 1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

It is often said that health care has moved from paternalism, in the form of “doctor knows best,” to consumerism, in which patients expect to be able to obtain treatment consistent with their values and preferences. This presentation will explore some of the limits to consumerism in health care, with a particular focus on circumstances where patient values or preferences conflict with provider values, professional ethics, or societal norms captured in legislation or court decisions. Considerable attention has been devoted to constraints on patient choice in areas such as abortion and end of life care. This presentation will focus more broadly on the justifications and techniques for constraining patient choice in areas such as access to assisted reproductive technologies, risky therapies, pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, and extreme plastic surgery. Although the discussion will focus on the U.S., selected examples from Australia, Canada, and the U.K. will also be considered.

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