MorningRX: September 7, 2023


Updated COVID-19 booster shots may be approved by Friday, health insurance costs continue to increase, and republicans with 3 house committees plan to introduce PBM reform bill.

New COVID-19 Boosters Could be Approved by Friday

According to sources familiar with the FDA, the updated COVID-19 booster vaccines could be approved by the agency as early as Friday, NBC News reported. It wasn’t clear from the report which company’s shots will be up for consideration, but Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax have all recently said their updated booster shots are effective against certain variants of COVID-19. The CDC is currently tracking several variants that are driving cases up across much of the United States, most importantly the EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 strains. Another variant, BA.2.86, is also being watched by the CDC. However, the public health agency has said that it is too early to know if this new variant causes more severe illness or has higher transmissibility. NBC News noted that the sources close with the FDA said that the Friday timeline is not firm and it could slide into early next week.

Cost of Health Insurance Continues to Climb

The price of health insurance is increasing at a faster rate than has been seen in several years and is taking a toll on businesses and employees, according to The Wall Street Journal. Employer coverage is expected to climb around 6.5% in 2024, which will likely result in a higher price tag for plans that currently cost an average of over $14000 a year per employee. Individual plans sold under the Affordable Care Act are also expected to increase by about 6% next year. Many factors are contributing to the increased prices, including high labor costs for hospitals and an increased demand for diabetes and obesity drugs.

PBM Reform to be Introduced by House Committees

Republicans with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce are planning to introduce legislation on Friday that aims to reform PBM practices and improve transparency in the health care industry, STAT News reported. The bill, which the committee members hope to get a vote on this month, would equalize payments between hospital outpatient departments and physicians’ offices for drug administration. The bill also includes banning PBMs from charging Medicaid more then they pay pharmacies for medicines and would require hospitals and insurers to publicly post their prices.

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