What Caught Our Eye (WCOE), September 15, 2017
What Caught Our Eye is our week-in-review blog series, where we recap the cancer policy articles, studies, and stories that caught our attention.

Affordable Care Act

“New Graham-Cassidy Bill: A Last GOP Shot At ACA Repeal And Replace Through Reconciliation”

By Timothy Jost, Health AffairsThe fundamental idea of the Graham-Cassidy bill is to terminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansions, premium tax credits, cost-sharing reduction payments, small business tax credits, and Basic Health Program as of 2019 and redistribute the money funding those programs to the states, using a complex formula… The bill would also impose per capita caps on Medicaid funding generally, also offering the states the alternative of a broader Medicaid block grant. Finally, the bill contains a number of tax cuts and health care regulation changes taken from earlier Senate repeal bills.
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“Postcard From The Hill: Senators Shelve Histrionics In Search Of Obamacare Fix”

By Rachel Bluth, Kaiser Health NewsAfter a summer of flame-throwing over the Affordable Care Act’s repeal, Republicans and Democrats are now engaged in a serious collaborative effort to find a legislative solution that would ward off predicted premium rate hikes this year.
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“Senate Republicans claim they are a few votes away from repealing Obamacare”

By Dylan Scott, Vox.comSo the bill, the last hope Republicans have to repeal and replace Obamacare for the foreseeable future, exists in this strange limbo. It could very well be within a few votes of a majority. At the same time, there is no indication yet it can succeed where other plans have failed and actually secure that 50th vote.
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Coping with Cancer

“Atul Gawande On How To Improve End-Of-Life Care”

Interview on WBUR’s “Here and Now”Surgeon and author Atul Gawande’s book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” examines how the treatment of the elderly and the dying can be improved, an issue which was brought home for Gawande when his father was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. Gawande joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to talk about improving end-of-life care.
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Cancer News

“The FDA just approved the first direct competitor to a billion-dollar cancer drug”

By Lydia Ramsey, Business InsiderHaving more biosimilars in the US would be a big deal: It might be the best way to drive down the cost of biologic medications that have been around for a while.

“Bringing new biosimilars to patients, especially for diseases where the cost of existing treatments can be high, is an important way to help spur competition that can lower healthcare costs and increase access to important therapies,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a news release.
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“Generic Chemo Is Too Expensive To Help Curb Cancer Spending, Study Says”

By Arlene Weintraub, Forbes.comThe advent of immuno-oncology treatments like checkpoint inhibitors and personalized CAR-T engineered immune cells has intensified concerns about the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, particularly in cancer care. But critics of high drug prices rarely point to chemotherapy as part of the problem. Chemo, after all, is an old technology, so when chemo drugs go generic they’re really inexpensive, right?

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“The Crisis in Gynecologic Cancer Research”

By Susan Gubar, New York Times Well BlogAs an ovarian cancer patient whose life is being extended by a clinical trial, I was delighted to learn this summer that research on gynecological cancers is undergoing an unusually productive period. But I’m dismayed that at the same time there has been a steep decline in clinical trials available in the field.
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