5 Things Alaska: Jon Schleder, pharmacy bill, alcohol use

Later today, we host our Convening Panel meeting for our upcoming 2018 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference. This year’s conference is coming up on October 10th, if you want to put it on your calendar!  Last year, we hit 300 attendees at the event, which was an amazing turn out…

Now, onto 5 Things We’re Watching in Alaska health care for May, 2018.

1.  Legislature passes pharmacy bill

The Legislature adjourned on Sunday after making progress on PBM transparency. House Bill 240, which passed with widespread support, improves prescription price transparency for patients. It also allows pharmacies to receive the methodology and sources used to determine the drug pricing list by PBMs.

Other states have struggled to address issues of PBM transparency. Despite passing out of both chambers, Hawaii failed to pass a bill that would have allowed pharmacies to receive the maximum allowable costs lists. California has also failed to pass its version of a PBM transparency bill.

2.  The four elements of health care’s social contract

I believe you can view our politics and our policy discussions through the lens of our social contract we have with one another, and the social capital we have built together to support it. I’ll talk more about social capital another time, though one of the country’s first efforts to measure social capital was just released in late April. Alaska was 20th on the social capital index of states.

Our social contract is the set of responsibilities we owe to one another as Americans. I would argue many, and perhaps most challenges we face in health care today result from a perceived violation of our social contract by one group or another.

I outline the idea of this social contract in a two part series:  connecting the decline of public opinion of health care to our social contract, and the four tenets that make up the contract and which have broad acceptance by a majority of Americans.

3.  Video: Jon Schleder, Alaska Innovative Medicine

Jon Schleder is the CEO of Alaska Innovative Medicine (AIM), which works to reduce waste and improve health care delivery for Alaskans through primary care. Jon joins us in this episode of “What They’re Watching” to discuss how AIM utilizes case management.

“We’ve had successful examples of people who are almost quite literally ready to walk into the emergency room where we can intervene, we can get them the right care and coordinate what they need. Sometimes it’s as simple just as sending a nurse out, draw some blood and take that to a lab, or even a social worker to sort of address some of the anxiety that they may be developing around medical issues.”

4.  Alcohol misuse worse than opioid crisis

While the opioid crisis in Alaska has received a significant amount of attention in recent years, a recent report details the often overlooked but widespread alcohol misuse. Alaska ranked third highest for alcohol-related deaths in 2015.

Two points of comparison. In 2017, 7.6 percent of all EMS transports in the state resulted from alcohol misuse. Only 1.6 percent resulted from opioid misuse. From 2010 to 2016, there were 962 alcohol-related deaths in Alaska, which was 198 more deaths than meth and opioid related deaths combined.

5.  Novartis, Michael Cohen, and Senate probe

In case you missed it, last week Novartis announced it had paid Michael Cohen $100,000 per month for twelve months. It only took one meeting with him before the company realized Cohen, President Trump’s adviser, had no depth of knowledge in health policy (something usually confirmed before contracts are signed).  That amount is high, even by DC standards, and is apparently more than Novartis pays its lobbyists already on contract.

When Novartis considered leaving the contract, it chose not to saying it didn’t want to “anger” Cohen.

This follows Novartis’s payment of hundreds of millions in fines for bribery of public officials and “kickbacks” in foreign countries. US. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) have started a probe into the contract, with Wyden saying it “raises the specter of corruption.