National News
Two House Bills Tackle PBM Transparency
Earlier this month, the House unanimously passed two transparency bills that would require more disclosure of the discounts drug companies give to PBMs. The goal of both bills is to shine a light on rebates and DIR fees by obtaining more data on how PBMs may be contributing to higher drug prices.
H.R. 1781, the Payment Commission Data Act of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), would provide drug pricing and rebate data to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission. Access to this data would help the independent commissions provide better policy recommendations to Congress on the drug market.
H.R. 2115, the Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act, sponsored by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), would require PBMs to disclose the aggregate amount of rebates, discounts, and price concessions that PBMs negotiate with drug manufacturers, and make this information publicly available.
U.S. Prosecutors Open Criminal Probe Of Opioid Makers, Distributors
Federal prosecutors are investigating six pharmaceutical companies for potential criminal charges in connection with shipping big quantities of opioid painkillers that contributed to a healthcare crisis, according to regulatory filings. Five companies have received subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York as part of the investigation: drugmakers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Mallinckrodt Plc, Johnson & Johnson and Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc, and distributor McKesson Corp, regulatory filings showed. Published by Reuters
Trump Will Release Plan Allowing States To Import Drugs From Canada Soon
It's unclear exactly how the plan has changed since the Department of Health and Human Services released an outline in July. According to the outline, states, wholesalers and pharmacists - acting as intermediaries for consumers - would draft a proposal for safe importation of drugs already available in the U.S. The groups would then submit the proposal to the Food and Drug Administration for approval. In most circumstances, it is illegal to import medications from other countries for personal use, according to the FDA. Canadian health officials and the pharmaceutical industry are against the proposal.
By Lovelace, Published by CNBC
State News

Pharmacists Could Get Power To Treat Flu, Strep
In an attempt to increase access to health care, a House panel on Wednesday approved a proposal that would authorize pharmacists to test patients for --- and treat --- the flu and strep throat. But physicians who oppose the bill warned that increased access to care doesn't mean patients will receive top-notch care. By Sexton, Published by Health News Florida

Flu Virus Widespread In Maryland:
What You Need To Know About This Year's Flu Season In The Baltimore Area
With the beginning of fall comes the beginning of flu season. The contagious virus knocks millions of people off their feet every year. Maryland is one of two states in which the influenza virus has become geographically widespread, according to a Nov. 2 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there is a way to prevent, or at least minimize, the nasty bug, said Dr. Theodore Bailey, chief of the Greater Baltimore Medical Center's division of infectious disease and part of GBMC Health Partners. Get a flu shot, he said. By Cohn, Published by The Baltimore Sun
Thousands Already Have Medical Marijuana Cards With Nowhere To Legally Buy It
Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program - a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. Licenses for Missouri's dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. By Driscoll, Published by KCUR

10 Hospitalized From Oklahoma Facility After Flu Shot Mix-Up
Ten people at an Oklahoma care facility for people with intellectual disabilities were hospitalized after they were apparently accidentally injected with what's believed to be insulin rather than flu shots, authorities said. Emergency responders were called Wednesday afternoon to the Jacquelyn House in Bartlesville, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of Tulsa, on a report of an unresponsive person and found "multiple unresponsive people," Bartlesville Police Chief Tracy Roles said.
Published by The Associated Press
Another Step Toward Launching State-Based Insurance Exchange
State legislators earlier this year approved bipartisan legislation that kick-started the process of moving off and creating its own exchange platform, with the goal of launching the new exchange for the 2021 open enrollment season. The state announced  it has signed on with GetInsured to create the platform. 
GetInsured also works with Nevada, California, Idaho, Minnesota and Washington on their state-based exchanges. That experience was a key factor in the state's decision to work with them, as there's less than a year to go until the new exchange needs to be up and running. 
As 2020 open enrollment continues, Pennsylvanians are still using for now. But state officials estimate the savings for their transition will be significant and are able to set up a reinsurance program simultaneously due to the money saved. 
Other states eyeing their own exchanges include Maine and New Jersey, which are also planning a 2021 launch, and New Mexico, which is planning for the 2022 open enrollment window. Oregon has not yet set a launch date but is also pursuing a state-based exchange. 
Eleven states and the District of Columbia already operate their own exchanges. 
By Paige Minemyer, Published by Fierce Healthcare (edited)
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