Extreme weather may have worsened the drug shortage
Plus: Has charging for MyChart emails helped physicians' inboxes?
Hello everyone and happy Friday. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Pulse Check.
In the news:
Tornado rips through Rocky Mount, NC Pfizer plant
The extreme weather may have a significant impact on the drug shortage crisis this country is facing. The Rocky Mount plant makes roughly twenty-five percent of the company’s sterile injections that are used at hospitals across the country. The Food and Drug Administration says they are monitoring the situation for the potential impact it may have on a shortage. Read more in the New York Times 🔒 and WRAL News.
LIVE Pfizer stock price: PFE 0.00%↑
Has charging for MyChart emails slowed the messages coming into physicians’ inboxes? Not by much.
Last year, large hospital systems such as the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and UW Medicine began charging patients for emailing their physicians through Epic’s MyChart system. The delivery systems began doing this because physicians had seen, on average, fifty percent more emails from patients since the start of COVID-19. As Ron and I discussed on the FLATLINING Podcast several months ago, answering emails takes time away from patients in the office and so it makes sense to charge for some of those emails. A new study shows, however, charging for them hasn’t really slowed the rate. Read more from NPR Illinois.
Rep. Chip Roy introduces bill to change America’s healthcare system
The Texas Republican’s bill is called the Personalized Healthcare Act of 2023. He said in a statement to the Daily Caller, which first reported on the bill, “The American healthcare system is broken, and the American people are taking it on the chin — all while big ‘healthcare’ companies get rich off this crony capitalist racket. The Personalized Care Act would help end run this broken system by circumventing middlemen and bureaucrats and giving patients the direct power to make their own healthcare and coverage decisions, ultimately driving up competition to drive down prices. The quasi-government-controlled healthcare cartel we have isn’t working; it’s time for Healthcare Freedom.” The Daily Caller did not publish specifics about how this bill would change the healthcare system. Read more in the Daily Caller.
Other articles of interest:
What is going on with Medicaid expansion in NC?
That is a question I have received from almost all of my North Carolina-based clients at Fulcrum Strategies and truth be told it is a confusing answer. The expansion is tied to the state budget which is currently being held up by two very niche issues: a casino and medical marijuana.
Additionally, as we reported several weeks ago, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina got the green light from state regulators to act more like a for-profit insurance company. Ron and I break down what that means for patients and providers in North Carolina, in particular as several other healthcare reforms are on the way in the Tarheel State.
Amid Russia’s ongoing invasion and attempted mediation and peace talks from everyone from China to the Holy See, healthcare continues to happen in Ukraine. This week, a first-of-its-kind operation took place in the country to save the life of a six-year-old girl. In a Kyiv hospital, she received the heart of a four-year-old boy. It is the first time a heart transplant has been performed in Ukraine on children this young. Read more from CNN via Microsoft Start.
KFF Health News frequently reports on patient bills they deem outrageous and often from the perspective that those bills should be forgiven or that there should be no consequences for them. Ron and I disagree, generally, with that sentiment because while no one chooses to go into medical debt, the physicians that save lives still need to be paid for their work.
This story from KFF Health News I found a little different. It is about a woman and her son in North Carolina. Her son needed mental health treatment and was granted a discounted bed at Central Regional Hospital in Butner, NC. However, the bill she received was very different from the agreed-upon rate for the bed and the bill came from the state Attorney General.
This happened because the hospital is run by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and unpaid debts billed by state agencies are later sent to the Attorney General.
What makes this case interesting to me is that NC Attorney General Josh Stein is running for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2024 and has campaigned as a pro-consumer candidate. He has been outspoken about his distaste for hospital consolidation and has supported price transparency.
Have a good weekend,