Professor says capping insulin price doesn’t treat the cause
April 10, 2017
A professor at Emory College in Atlanta says it's a noble goal to try to slow the rate healthcare costs are rising but that Nevada Senate Bill 265 isn't the answer.
The bill was introduced to try to get control of the rising number of Nevadans and others who are contracting diabetes. It would do so by imposing a cap on the price of insulin.
"They're going about doing this the wrong way," according to Professor Ken Thorpe of Emory's Rollins School of Public Health. "If they're really trying to get the cost of healthcare to grow at a slower rate, this is not the way."
The right way, he said, is a program of exercise and changes in behavior and dietary habits to get people's blood sugar, weight, blood pressure and other indicators under control.
Simply capping the price of insulin, he said, does nothing to prevent more and more people from becoming diabetic.
The rising cost of healthcare, he said, is being driven by the fact more and more people are contracting chronic conditions like diabetes.
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He said the problem with doctors and nurses telling people to change their diets and get some exercise is that there's no follow through. The solution, he said, is a system now being tried in Vermont, Minnesota and Oregon that creates "community health teams" that follow up after the patients leave their doctor's office.
Those teams, he said, "manage patients and make sure whatever care plan is put into place is executed." And, Thorpe said, in the case of Medicare, 90 percent of the cost of those teams is paid by the federal government. He said the state itself could expand that coverage to include Medicaid as well.
Thorpe said the current medical model deals with symptoms of chronic diseases like diabetes.
"It doesn't deal with the underlying cause," he said.
Thorpe said his focus in Nevada at this point is the diabetes issue but that the community health care teams would deal with all chronic diseases that he said make up 87 percent of healthcare costs.
Under his plan, patients with chronic health problems would be put through a 16-week class designed to changing their behavior and instill in them the benefits of a better diet and exercise to control their health problems and keep them from needing expensive medical procedures.