Monday Healthcare Headlines

Medicare Advantage plans are endangering the lives of older adults and people with disabilities. The HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which works to fight waste, fraud, and abuse, recently issued a devastating report showing that these corporate health plans, which contract with the government to deliver Medicare benefits, are denying large amounts of care inappropriately.

In a 2018 report, the OIG raised equally troubling concerns about the risks faced by older adults and people with disabilities in Medicare Advantage. The OIG recommended that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) act to protect people with Medicare and provide them “with clear, easily accessible information about serious [Medicare Advantage] violations.” Unfortunately, these recommendations seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Number 1 cause of diabetes. Health experts warn that diabetes has become a silent epidemic in the U.S.—and a silent killer. For the last two years, deaths from diabetes have hit record levels. It doesn’t have to be this way. For many people, diabetes is preventable. Diabetes can lead to serious health complications like heart disease and stroke, so it’s important to take steps to avoid developing the disease if possible.

There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes, but one of the biggest is a poor diet high in processed foods and added sugar. They’re closely related—many processed foods quickly break down into sugar. When the body is swamped with sugar, it can become resistant to insulin. The body isn’t able to process glucose for energy, and serious health consequences can follow.

ASCO focuses on CAR-T. CAR-T therapies, which modify a person’s immune cells to attack cancer cells, have been successful in treating some blood cancers and melanoma. Researchers are now trying to adapt them for treating breast, lung, and other “solid tumor” cancers.

The treatments are expensive. They only work with some people — and it isn’t clear why. Combining different checkpoint inhibitor drugs or administering them alongside CAR-T and other therapies has yielded incremental advances. Of the 332 approvals over those 12 years, only 16% were based on new drug approaches. The rest were additional approvals of an existing drug or first approvals of a “me-too” drug that enters an existing class of treatment.

Care Giving Crisis. According to an AARP study, in 2010 there were 7 potential caregivers for every person over 80. The study reveals that by 2030 the ratio will decline sharply to 4 to 1 and by 2050, 3 to 1. The disconnect between the aging population and the need for young workers to care for their elders is expected to be mirrored throughout the country. States with fewer immigrants will be hit especially hard. They are disproportionately represented in many occupations serving the elderly.