Patience on King v. Burwell, AbbVie’s big cancer buy and here comes L.A. superbug 2.0 (Morning Read)

Of course we’ll discuss Obamacare. But we’ll also touch on AbbVie’s Pharmacyclics buy and the Los Angeles hospital hit by a superbug.

The Morning Read provides a 24-hour wrap up of everything else healthcare’s innovators need to know about the business of medicine (and beyond). The author of The Read published it but all full-time MedCity News journalists contribute to its content.


Folks, now we wait. News about the King v. Burwell case has left the Supreme Court divided but could ultimately leave many Americans uninsured. Health Affairs has among the best breakdowns of the case for health junkies.

Although it is risky to predict the result of a case from oral argument, it seems to me that the government came out of the argument on top.  The government’s position is clearly supported by Justices Breyer, Kagan, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.  It seems to me that the government has a more than even shot at Justice Kennedy.  It is clear that Justices Scalia and Alito are prepared to side with the challengers.  The Chief Justice, however, did not clearly stake out a position one way or the other.  Justice Thomas, as is his custom, was silent, although the government should probably draw no comfort from that.

AbbVie buys Pharmacyclics for $21 billion. Its $100,000 drug treatment, Imbruvica, should generate $3.5 billion in 2018. The Financial Times has already put together a great explanation of the deal.

Another Los Angeles hospital has been hit by a superbug. Seventy-one exposed at last count.

Merck begins Phase III trials of its Ebola vaccine this week.


The FDA approved the first cancer immunotherapy to treat lung cancer: Bristol Myers-Squibb’s Opdivo.

Grifols has taken a 45 percent stake in the Alzheimer’s treatment company Alkahest.

Tricida closes $30 million for its kidney disease treatment.

Eisai and Merck enter a collaboration announced for Anti-PD-1 therapy under the name “Lenvatinib.”

The FDA has launched its first mobile app to provide the public and healthcare professionals with time-sensitive information on drug shortages.

McDonald’s announced that it will cease buying chicken raised with the routine use of most antibiotics. Good news? How good?

McDonald’s new policy doesn’t solve the farm-antibiotics problem. The company is making the move only for chicken, not for beef or pork (though chicken is already the meat Americans eat the most). And the policy has important caveats. But since McDonald’s is the largest food-service buyer of chicken in America, this can’t help but affect other restaurants, and production of other meats.


UnitedHealth will require prior authorization for hysterectomies.

Humana and Integrated Health Network of Wisconsin have formed a new ACO for Medicare Advantage members with the hopes of improving wellness and better coordination. Humana’s Medicare Advantage members will have access to IHN’s network, which currently includes 42 hospitals, 500 clinics and more than 5,000 physicians spanning northern, central, western and eastern Wisconsin.

Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health, part of St. Louis-based Ascension Health, has named Cheryl Harmon CFO.

U.S. community hospitals generated nearly $2.6 trillion for the country’s economy in 2013, including 5.6 million jobs, according to report released Wednesday by the American Hospital Association.

Oregon legislation would let nurse practitioners perform vasectomies – urologists hate it

What we don’t think about as much when it comes to disease outbreaks: How the Ebola outbreak has had devastating consequences for pregnant women, even the uninfected.

What’s happening and what can we do? – Heroin overdoes have almost quadrupled in the past 13 years.


Former MyHealthDirect CEO Jay Mason is moving ahead with his new company, Elli Health. Its raised just under $1 million.

Colorado on the verge of removing a state regulation that kept telehealth out of major cities; current rules say insurers can only reimburse when telemedicine was used in counties with 150,000 or fewer residents.

100 medical societies deeply worried about ICD-10: “The undersigned organizations remain gravely concerned that many aspects of this undertaking have not been fully assessed and that contingency plans may be inadequate if serious disruptions occur on or after Oct. 1.”

HIStalk named the five patient advocates it is funding with $1,000 scholarships so they can attend HIMSS. They will be sporting t-shirts as part of Regina Holliday’s Walking Gallery project.


Dr. Ben Carson, our very own Whackdoodle MD, moves forward with plans to embarrass us all. Within the course of a couple days he announced his presidential exploratory committee, made some bizarre comment on prison life proving homosexuality is a choice, and then apologized.

[Photo from Flickr user Mike Licht]