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The Commonwealth Fund

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An Evolving Roadmap to Address Social Determinants of Health

Roadmap for social determinants of health

Today, health care providers and system leaders understand that the health of our patients is driven in large part by the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work, and age – what we call the social determinants of health. A growing body of research shows that integrating social services into health care delivery can improve health and reduce spending.

What Recent Federal Courts’ Rulings on Contraception Mean for U.S. Women’s Health

Woman thinks about her birth control options

In a new To the Point post, the Commonwealth Fund’s Shanoor Seervai and Roosa Tikkanen explain that American women already struggle to afford the care they need, especially compared to women in other high-income countries, and have worse health outcomes as well. A key difference in these other countries is universal access to free or affordable contraceptives.

Congress Revives Flurry of Drug Pricing Legislation

Lawmakers rushed into the drug pricing arena this week as they revived a bundle of legislation and oversight talks, signaling they want to put manufacturers in the hot seat when it comes to addressing health care costs. Medicare negotiation was at the forefront of Democratic messaging with an unexpected Republican boost. (Susannah Luthi, Modern Healthcare)

California to Flex Drug Purchasing Power

California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to bolster the state’s power to negotiate prescription drug prices and expand health coverage for undocumented immigrants, as the Democrat aims to take the lead on policies at odds with those of the Trump administration.  An executive order by Gov. Newsom directs the state’s Department of Health Care Services to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of the 13 million people using Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program for low-income people.  (Alejandro Lazo, Wall Street Journal)

Democrats Gear Up for Single-Payer Health Care Push

Democrats are making it clear that they’re serious about moving forward on universal health care. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week that she supports holding hearings on Medicare-for-All legislation, and on Tuesday House Budget Committee chair Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ken.) sent a letter to the Congressional Budget Office requesting a comprehensive analysis of how a single-payer health system would work in the U.S. While many countries successfully provide “near-universal coverage through single-payer systems,” he wrote, there are different paths the U.S. could take to build such a system. (Michael Rainey, Fiscal Times)

Prescription Drug Costs Driven by Manufacturer Price Hikes, Not Innovation

The skyrocketing cost of many prescription drugs in the U.S. can be blamed primarily on price increases for drugs already on the market, not expensive new therapies or improvements in existing medications, as drug companies frequently claim, a new study shows. The report, published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, found that the cost of brand-name oral prescription drugs rose more than 9 percent a year from 2008 and 2016, while the annual cost of injectable drugs rose more than 15 percent.  (Alison Kodjak, National Public Radio)

Medicaid ‘Buy-In’ Could Be a New Health Care Option for the Uninsured

Even as calls for “Medicare for All” grow louder among Democrats in Washington, D.C., at least 10 states are exploring whether to allow residents to pay premiums to “buy in” to Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor.  Advocates say the policies might be an appealing option for people hard-pressed to pay for plans on the health care exchanges, and might spur competition that could lower prices for everybody. (Michael Ollove, Stateline)

Democrats Roll Out Big Health Care Proposals in the States

Riding the momentum from November’s elections, Democratic leaders in the states are wasting no time delivering on their biggest campaign promise — to expand access to health care and make it more affordable. The first full week of state legislative sessions and swearings-in for governors saw a flurry of proposals.  (Sally Ho and Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press)

Judge Blocks Trump Birth Control Coverage Rules in 13 States

A U.S. judge in California on Sunday blocked Trump administration rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control, from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, D.C.  (Sudhin Thanawala, Associated Press)