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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of June 10, 2024


Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of June 10, 2024–June 14, 2024.

Fierce Healthcare (6/13, Beavins) reports, “Bruce A. Scott, M.D., took the reins of the American Medical Association (AMA) for his first full day on Wednesday, June 12, succeeding immediate past president Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D.” Scott “spoke with Fierce Healthcare preceding his inauguration and discussed his priorities for the year ahead.” During his time as president, “Scott said he wants to emphasize the things that unite” physicians “rather than the things that divide them.” The organization’s “biggest policy priorities include reducing prior authorization, bolstering Medicare payments for physicians and tamping down on increased scope of practice by non-physician providers. Scott said he hopes to follow in the steps of Ehrenfeld in engaging policymakers on these topics.”

You may also be interested in: 5 ways the AMA is fighting for physicians on Medicare reform and more.

Roll Call (6/12, Hellmann) reports, lawmakers “reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that would … streamline the use of prior authorization in Medicare Advantage.” The measure “would require Medicare Advantage plans to establish electronic prior authorization programs for health care providers beginning in 2027.” Certain “Medicare Advantage plans still require health care providers to submit requests through fax machines or proprietary payer portals, which can result in increasing burden if different insurers use different prior authorization systems.”

Fierce Healthcare (6/12, Tong) reports that during the American Medical Association’s “annual meeting Tuesday, representatives agreed health insurers should be legally accountable when prior auth policies conflict with the best interests of patients.” AMA board member Marilyn Heine, MD, said in a statement, “Waiting on a health plan to authorize necessary medical treatment is too often a hazard to patient health.” The group “also wants to see better justification as to why claims are denied from insurers in the form of a denial letter that includes reasoning, rules or policies cited, what it would take to approve treatment and possible alternative treatments.”

Editor’s note: Overused prior authorization processes cause care delays, patient harm and practice hassles. Learn how the AMA is leading the charge to fix prior authorization.

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NBC News (6/11, Carroll) reports, “A new way of determining heart disease risk may result in millions fewer Americans getting prescriptions for statins, according to new research.” Investigators “analyzed the potential impact of a new heart disease risk calculator, dubbed PREVENT.” The researchers “found that among the participants, the 10-year risk of developing heart disease determined with the new tool was about half that estimated with the previous one.” The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The New York Times (6/10, Kolata, Belluck) reports, “A committee of independent advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Monday that the benefits outweigh the risks of the newest experimental drug for Alzheimer’s disease.” Eli Lilly’s donanemab “modestly slowed cognitive decline in patients in the early stages of the disease but also had significant safety risks, including swelling and bleeding in the brain.”

The Washington Post (6/10, Ovalle, Gilbert) reports, “Still, the FDA signaled that it wasn’t overly alarmed by the drug’s safety profile, noting in a briefing document that the findings ‘are generally consistent’ with the class of drugs that aim to reduce or eliminate amyloid plaques.” The panel “voted 11-0 that donanemab was effective and that the benefits outweighed the risks for patients with mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia.”

The AP (6/10, Perrone) reports, “The FDA will make the final decision on approval later this year. If the agency agrees with the panel’s recommendation, the drug, donanemab, would only be the second Alzheimer’s drug cleared in the U.S. that’s been shown to convincingly slow cognitive decline and memory problems due to Alzheimer’s.” The agency “approved a similar infused drug, Leqembi [lecanemab], from Japanese drugmaker Eisai last year.”

NBC News (6/9, Sullivan) reports, “New research points to a better way to measure obesity than body mass index.” One major criticism “of BMI is that it doesn’t look at how much of a person’s weight is fat, and where fat is distributed around the body. It also doesn’t take into account the other elements that make up a person’s body composition beyond fat, including muscle, bone, water and organs.” Now, “in a study published last week in JAMA Network Open,” researchers “showed that a different measurement, called the body roundness index, is a more precise way to estimate obesity.”

AMA Morning Rounds news coverage is developed in affiliation with Bulletin Healthcare LLC. Subscribe to Morning Rounds Daily.