IHA Daily Briefing: Aug. 9

Friday, August 9, 2019
Medicare to Cover CAR T-Cell Cancer Therapy
IDPH: Time to Immunize
Briefly Noted

Medicare to Cover CAR T-Cell Cancer Therapy
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday announced that it will now cover U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell, or “CAR T-cell” therapy—a form of cancer treatment that uses a patient’s own genetically-modified immune cells to fight disease. FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies are approved to treat some people with specific types of cancer – certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. 

Medicare will cover CAR T-cell therapies when they are provided in healthcare facilities enrolled in the FDA risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS) for FDA-approved indications (according to the FDA-approved label). In addition, Medicare will cover FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies for off-label uses that are recommended by CMS-approved compendia.

Because of limited outcomes data on CAR T-cell therapy patients, CMS says it will leverage information obtained from the FDA’s required post-approval safety studies for CAR T-cell therapies to the fullest extent possible.

More details can be found in CMS’ decision memo.
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IDPH: Time to Immunize
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. With the resurgence of measles in the U.S., the Illinois Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding parents to make sure their children are up-to-date on their required vaccinations.

The immunization requirements for the 2019-2020 school year are the same as last year.  Students who are not vaccinated and do not have proof of immunity will be excluded from school if there is a disease outbreak.  More information on child and adolescent vaccinations is available here.

Vaccines are not just for kids, however. IDPH is asking everyone to check their vaccination history and talk with their healthcare provider.  Adults should get flu vaccine each year and receive a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine or Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) every 10 years.  Tdap is also recommended for pregnant women during each pregnancy.  Adults 50 years and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine.  Adults 65 and older are also recommended to receive both pneumococcal vaccines. More information on adult vaccination schedules is available here.

See an IDPH press release for more information, including resources on low- or no-cost vaccinations. Spread the word on social media by using #VaxToSchool.


Briefly Noted
Jersey Community Hospital District has been awarded a three-year, $725,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. The funding is to be used to provide medication-assisted treatment and other support services to patients with opioid use disorder.

Illinois Department of Insurance Director Robert Muriel joined 17 Commissioners representing tens of millions of American insurance consumers in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, urging him to protect rules that address unfair treatment of transgender consumers. The letter states that changes proposed by the Trump Administration will undermine civil rights protections for millions of consumers, create an uneven playing field for health insurers and negatively affect state insurance markets. Read more here.