Highlight on Pennsylvania: Better Medicaid spending through technology

Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced legislation attempting to reduce spending and improve patient care within the state’s Medicaid program. Under the proposed legislation, Senate Bill 600, the state would adopt new technology to monitor and identify areas of unnecessary or wasteful health care services and procedures. The state would have 90 days within enactment of the bill to pick a technology company and implement the monitoring. Lawmakers noted that by providing more information, patients and providers, alike, could make better health care decisions. Consequently, this would reduce Medicaid spending. Pennsylvania is one of the highest spenders per Medicaid enrollee in the U.S., with one out of every four dollars in the state’s annual budget accounted for by Medicaid.

The lawmakers have started to review tech companies with prior experience in collecting and monitoring patients to improve care, notably companies that have worked with Alaska’s Medicaid program. The tech company involved  reduced misdiagnosis rates, improved outpatient care, cut waste, and reduced Medicaid expenditures in Alaska by over 14 percent. According to Pennsylvania lawmakers, a similar program could generate between $2 billion and $4 billion in annual savings.

In fiscal year 2015-16, the federal government spent about $15.3 billion on Medicaid in Pennsylvania, while the state spent about $10.6 billion, bringing the total to $25.9 billion; the state’s Department of Health and Human Services budget over the past few years has increased by about $500 million annually. The influx of approximately 700,000 new patients into the Medicaid system is a 20 percent increase and has cost an additional $4.6 billion. State lawmakers are concerned that the push for health care reform by the federal government will result in a cut in the federal portion of Medicaid to the state.

 

FDA opens portal to future science and tech trends

The FDA is lending additional support behind “horizon scanning,” a practice in which government and business entities collaborate to gather information broadly about emerging trends in science and technology. Horizon scanning helps these entities develop better capabilities to react to the quickly changing field. The FDA set up its own intra-agency horizon scanning group back in April 2015 – the Emerging Sciences Working Group – comprised of representatives from various FDA product and research centers.

Along those lines, the FDA is asking science and technology experts in the private sector to submit predictions on the next “new” items in their field of specialization. The agency stressed that it is not looking for advances already under discussion, but instead is seeking information about scientific and technological advances under the radar–so far under that a web search would have difficultly finding it. The FDA’s ability to achieve its stated agency mission relies on awareness of, and proactive preparedness for, emerging issues and scientific advances, which will impact the development of regulated products well in advance of formal FDA regulatory submissions, which can be anywhere from five to 10 years prior to when the regulatory submissions arrive at the FDA.

The information should be submitted electronically to the FDA’s Emerging Sciences Idea Portal. The portal is public, so confidential information should only be provided in writing. The FDA makes no promises on response, but did note that it would ask for more information if the submission sufficiently interested the agency. The FDA will use this information gathering to assist in the agency’s science-based planning, programs, policies, reporting, and communication within and outside the FDA. The public docket will be available for comment submissions through October 2019.