• Reflex: September 7, 2011

    Delayed due to inexplicable technical problems, here it is:

    HHS inspector general says we’re wasting money on macular degeneration drugs, report Alicia Mundy and Jennifer Dooren (WSJ). “Medicare data indicate that Avastin accounts for more than 60% of the injections for age-related macular degeneration covered by the federal program for the elderly. But it cost the government only about $40 million, compared to $1.1 billion for Lucentis,” which is “equally effective in slowing wet macular degeneration, according to a major clinical study released by the National Institutes of Health.” Austin’s comment: According to this story, there is no reason why the government should pay the higher cost of Lucentis for macular degeneration. An alternative is to set the reimbursement for treatment at the lowest, equally effective cost. If patients wish to have the more expensive treatment, they could still get it, by paying the additional, marginal cost out of pocket.  

    Fewer Americans are smoking according to the CDC, writes CNN’s Jaque WilsonDon’s comment: This is good news, and the U.S. has among the lowest smoking prevalence rates in the high income world. However, the societal costs of smoking remain enormous, around $40 per pack in 2000 dollars.

    Romney plan calls for Medicaid block grants writes Sam Baer in Healthwatch. Gov. Romney believes that ending the federal program of matched funding to states could save about $200 billion a year. Aaron’s Comment: It’s still hard to see how “block grants” magically reduce spending without negatively affecting access or quality, especially when providers already complain about being under-paid in the program. Previous posts on this here and here, and here’s one discussing Rhode Island’s program and how it’s not the miracle some claim.

    (H/t, Igor Volsky.)

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