Policy Watch

February 15, 2017 Policy Watch

New Medicare Payment Option for Behavioral Health Integration

Medicare rang in the new year with four new codes to reimburse primary care teams for behavioral health services. According to an article that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 2, 2017, three of the codes support services using the Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) and the fourth allows for services provided under other […]

December 12, 2016 Policy Watch

Pilot Grant Awardee Karen Lasser on Hepatitis C Treatment in Primary Care

Pilot grant awardee Dr. Karen Lasser and her team have developed an intervention to screen, link and treat patients with hepatitis C (HCV) in the primary care setting. As the founding medical director for HCV treatment in primary care, Dr. Lasser was motivated to do a budget impact analysis of their intervention to analyze whether the […]

November 22, 2016 Policy Watch

Answering the Call: Facing Addiction in America

Last week the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, released the groundbreaking, comprehensive report Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. The report comes at a critical juncture, with more than 27 million Americans misusing illicit and prescription drugs, and more than 66 million misusing alcohol. The Surgeon General details the […]

November 7, 2016 Policy Watch

The Effect of Vaping Minimum Age Laws on Teen Smoking and Birth Outcomes

Public health advocates have been concerned about rising e-cigarette use (“vaping”) among teens. For the first time in 2014, teens reported being more likely to use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. New Jersey implemented the first law restricting the purchase of e-cigarettes or other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in 2010; almost all states followed suit in the […]

September 21, 2016 Policy Watch

Medicaid’s Most Costly Outpatient Drugs include Opioids, Opioid Agonists, and HCV and HIV Treatments

The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured recently released an issue brief detailing the most costly outpatient drugs to Medicaid in 2014 and the first half of 2015. Using data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the authors analyzed outpatient drug costs based on Medicaid spending (before rebates) to determine which drugs account […]

August 29, 2016 Policy Watch

A Computer Tool to Address Epidemic of Opioid Overdose Deaths

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday announced the launch of a new Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) designed to log and analyze every prescription for opioids and other controlled substances dispensed anywhere in the state. The new web-based computer program is Pennsylvania’s latest tool in the battle to lower the body count of prescription drug […]

July 21, 2016 Policy Watch

Changes to Buprenorphine Prescriber Limits

Two weeks ago, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced changes in buprenorphine treatment regulations that would allow certain licensed physicians to provide buprenorphine to up to 275 patients. This is an increase from the 100 patient limit set forth by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Reauthorization Act of 2006. The change comes after […]

July 11, 2016 Policy Watch

Probuphine: Benefits and Cost of a New Medication-Assisted SUD Treatment Option

Following approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), probuphine will become the latest medication-assisted treatment (MAT) option to treat opioid use disorders in the United States. Probuphine is a subdermal implant that consists of four one-inch rods that deliver a daily dose of 8 mg of buprenorphine, an opioid agonist that staves off […]

June 27, 2016 Policy Watch

Bridging Research and Policy: Q&A with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen

In a recent panel discussion at Penn, Leana Wen, MD, MSc, Baltimore City Health Commissioner, spoke about the role of public health in Baltimore and how academic institutions can work with public health departments. I spoke with Dr. Wen before her panel about how policymakers use economic evidence, and how we can make evidence more useful to […]

June 14, 2016 Policy Watch

How bad is opioid misuse? Most of us think it’s really bad

As overdose deaths soar, the opioid epidemic has captured the attention of the White House, Congress, and the public. In a recent survey, about 44% of people say that they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers. Increasingly, we see addiction as a health problem rather than as a problem to be solved […]

June 6, 2016 Policy Watch

Dr. Michael Pesko Discusses New FDA Regulations of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued new regulations for electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) including vaporizers and e-cigarettes. The regulations will raise the purchasing age of ENDS to 18 years to align with cigarettes, require all ENDS manufacturers to submit chemical and manufacturing information for FDA review, which will result in new […]

May 20, 2016 Policy Watch

NY State Moves to Remove Restrictions on HCV Drug Access by Private and Medicaid Insurers

According to a new report from the CDC, in 2014 one person died from hepatitis C (HCV) every 27 minutes, totaling 19,659 Americans in one year. The number of people dying from HCV surpassed the total number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases combined, including HIV. Although lifesaving, the high cost of current treatments for […]

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