CMS releases final benefit, payment standards for 2020 plans

The CMS released its final annual notice of benefit and payment standards for Affordable Care Act plans for the 2020 coverage year, and it lowers the user fee for plans sold on the federal exchange to 3% of premiums and 2.5% for plans sold on state exchanges using the federal platform. It also permits health insurers to use copay accumulator programs to prevent drugmakers' coupons from counting toward a patient's maximum out-of-pocket costs when a generic alternative is available. Modern Healthcare (tiered subscription model) (4/18)

L.A. County to join Calif.'s drug-purchasing coalition

Los Angeles County and California Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration said they will bargain together to buy prescription drugs in Newsom's proposed statewide purchasing system. Newsome said the governors of Rhode Island, Colorado and Illinois are interested in the idea. Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (4/17)

Azar announces $350M study to fight opioid crisis

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said a new study in Kentucky, Ohio, Massachusetts and New York communities seeks to identify the best ways to address the opioid crisis at the local level and to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 40% over three years in those communities. The study will be funded with $350 million in research grants. MedPage Today (free registration) (4/18)

Humana rolling out value-based oncology model in MA, commercial plans

Sixteen health care systems and oncology practices are participating in Humana's new value-based cancer care model in Medicare Advantage and commercial plans, which offers higher compensation to health care providers who meet certain goals. Humana is also offering assistance with technology and data analytics to help coordinate patient care. Healthcare Dive (4/17)

Drugmakers' annual ad spending rose 4.8% last year

Drugmakers spent more than $6.46 billion on advertising last year, a 4.8% increase over ad spending in 2017, according to Kantar Media. AbbVie spent $487 million to advertise Humira; Pfizer spent $272 million on Lyrica, $257 million on Xeljanz and $212 million on Chantix; and Eli Lilly and Co. spent $207 million on Trulicity advertising. FiercePharma (4/16)

There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.

Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state April is Stress Awareness Month