Healthcare News Roundup: Alzheimer’s drug comeback, Google’s Fitbit Bid, and Medical Delivery Drones.

The Healthy Muse Newsletter: Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug makes a Comeback

Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug Makes a Comeback


Google makes a play to acquire Fitbit and challenge Apple’s smartwatch dominance

A Bid for Fitbit.

The bigger picture: wearables, wellness, and improving health outcomes.

Amazon Acquires Health Navigator

Amazon Care is taking shape.

Employees Only.

Attack of the Drones: UPS Unveils Medical Drone Delivery Platform with Key Partners already Lined Up

Parcel Wars: Attack of the…wait for it…Drones.

Remember the March pilot program?

Policy Corner, week of October 28, 2019: Vaping Ban? Healthcare Lobbying shoots up, the FTC wants to review the effects of hospital mergers, and CMS might start using AI for fraud.

All about Vaping: potential Vaping van is being considered (smoking is fine though, no worries), and a Vaping Tax Bill on the House Panel.

The FTC wants to take a closer look at Hospital Mergers

What’s a COPA?

Why would the states ever issue them?

Healthcare Lobbying pushes higher.

  • PhRMA (3 guesses on which industry they rep) spent $6.2 million as drug pricing legislation bounces around Congress to no avail (currently)
  • Amgen: $3 million
  • Bayer: $2 million
  • AbbVie: $1.8 million
  • Pfizer: $1.6 million
  • Gilead Sciences: $1.5 million
  • Meanwhile, don’t forget about the surprise billing lobbying blitz happening at the other end of the healthcare world, totaling $4.1 million in lobbying spending in the third quarter alone.

In the miscellaneous category…

  • Carcinogenic breasts: The FDA might require breast implant manufacturers to post cancer warnings on its labels.
  • Rural ACOs get a lift: Senators are considering boosting payments to rural ACOs
  • ACA Replacement Republican Healthcare Plan? Here’s a quick writeup on what any possible ACA replacement might look like from the Republican party. Main takeaway: give more regulatory power to the states, save pre-existing conditions, and give Medicaid block grants. Read the full report here.
  • Big win for payors: The U.S. was just ordered to cough up $1.59B in subsidies to Kaiser, Oscar, and other payors
  • AI and Fraud Detection: And finally, the CMS is looking to use artificial intelligence to help with fraud — especially in home health, where fraud can be rampant.

Quick Hits

Biz Hits

  • Opioids Update: Last week, we touched on the ~$50 billion opioid settlement. Reuters reported this week that talks have resumed between 4 states and the drug firms. The two sides are targeting a $48 billion settlement, but not all states are fans of the agreement since it might not get split up fairly
  • Hospital Profitability: Health system operating margins were up in 2018, but are still below the highs seen in 2015. Read the interesting whitepaper from Navigant here. A notable insight: smaller health systems were more profitable than larger health systems.
  • CVS CEO Interview: Healthcare Dive had a nice chat with CVS CEO Larry Merlo, which gave some insights into how the business views Amazon, its integration with Aetna, and more.
  • Teladoc Expands Services: Looks like Teladoc is trying to differentiate itself from other telemedicine ventures. This week, Teladoc launched a service called Teladoc Medical Experts. The service is meant to cover a broader range of medical conditions and diagnoses than the typical virtual care operator currently provides.
  • Livongo Partners with Telehealth: Speaking of telehealth, Livongo is continuing its partnership spree by teaming up with MDLIVE and Doctor on Demand, giving their members access to behavioral health and then eventually diabetes and hypertension offerings.

State Hits

  • From Politico — why North Carolina might be the most innovative state on healthcare in America.
  • The New York Health Act — which would establish single payer in New York — is drawing crowds. Read more about it here (paywall — WSJ)

Other Hits

  • Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat opens up about her bouts with cancer and Google’s work in early disease detection
  • Read an interesting essay from the WSJ about the link between aging and epigenetics
  • Medically necessary, or cruel? A thought-provoking article on the highly contentious issue of surgery on intersex babies.
  • An update on Skilled Nursing Facility values — surprisingly, SNF values are holding steady despite the reimbursement troubles facing the post-acute industry



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Blake Madden

Blake Madden

I write about healthcare. Policy, business, digital health, & more. Written in plain English. Here to connect, learn, and continue the healthcare convo.