One of the biggest adjustments for us in moving to New York was selling our cars (much love, Connie the Civic). But, in reading Austin Frakt’s NYT story this week about the impact of traffic on health – from pollution-exacerbated respiratory problems to stress and an increase in domestic violence – we are feeling uncharacteristically thankful today for the New York subway. 

This week saw a lot of news about the relationship between climate change and health, which brings us to TWTW: Climate Edition. So whether you’re under the weather (get it?), or feelin’ fabulous, enjoy this week’s roundup.


21 Monday

 Mother Nature needs a band-aid - The World Health Organization released its top 10 public health threats and topping the list: air pollution and climate change. 

22 Tuesday

 Truth in advertising – A new study found that including language about insurance coverage, coupons and other discounts in drug ads could mitigate the impact of including the list price. Possibly a good way to address sticker shock.

23 Wednesday

Broken robot – ABC Nightline released a documentary and podcast series about former Theranos Founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. The investigation took 3 years, and plays like something straight out of Hollywood. Among the interesting tidbits: Holmes said the word “I don’t know” 600 times in her interviews with the SEC.   

24 Thursday

Act Up, prevention addition – California state legislators introduced a bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense drugs used to prevent HIV infection without a doctor’s prescription. It also removes prior authorization for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

25 Friday

 While the government shutdown may be over for now, we’re not out of the woods just yet. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday clock is set at 11:58pm, 2 minutes before midnight. That means the end of the world as we know it may be on the horizon. One of the reasons they cite: climate change.

It's not easy being green 

In a new analysis out this week, London-based nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reported on the environmental impact of over 7,000 companies. Climate change is a challenge for corporate America and many sectors are bracing for the business impact of global warming. For example, “The Coca-Cola Co. wonders if there will still be enough water to make Coke.” (Meg is stockpiling Diet Coke now).

What’s this got to do with healthcare? Well, a lot. Based on a report by Axios health reporter Sam Baker (#nerdgoals), the emerging health risks from climate change actually provide a “business opportunity the pharmaceutical industry is starting to prepare for.” Don’t just take his word for it: many large pharmaceutical companies have all said as much.

But it’s not all coming up eco-friendly roses. For a healthcare industry that’s already facing widespread reputational issues, this storyline poses a significant PR risk. And it cuts to the age-old conundrum for the industry in the US: how do we navigate the ethics of an industry that inherently profits off of people’s sickness and suffering? Whatever your company’s answer may be, it’s critical to make sure your team is aligned and are comfortable communicating it in this new context.

Looking for wild Saturday night plans? Explore the full report and see which healthcare companies got an “A.”blank


You'll pay what?

Two interesting proposals arose this week regarding insurance policy and the price of drugs. While one could potentially lower prices for patients, the other might do the opposite. Consider it a sort of yin and yang between Medicare Part D and ACA patients.

First, the savings: it’s a bit complicated.

What: The Administration is providing insurance companies who administer Part D plans the flexibility to keep more of the savings they negotiate on behalf of patients.

Why: The idea behind this new experiment, called the Part D Payment Modernization model, is that insurers will be incentivized to better negotiate with drug companies. Then patients, who pay 5% of the cost of drugs in the catastrophic phase, will end up paying less. The program will begin in 2020 for insurers who choose to participate.

The other proposal out this week has to do with private plans…and it’s a doozy.

What: Patients with ACA plans who choose to use a branded drug when a generic is available would see less of their co-payments going towards their deductible. Insurers would be able to only put the value of the generic drug copay towards the limit under the proposal, instead of the full copay for the branded therapy. So, if a patient has a $20 copay for branded, but a $5 one for generic, even though they spent the $20 for their drug, only $5 would go towards their limit. Coupon cards would also not count towards the limit.

What does that mean:  Basically, many patients will have to spend more before insurance picks up the tab for branded drugs…some as much as $8,200 more! The public can submit comments on the proposal through February 19.

We’re keeping an eye on how these policies play out and if you have any questions, Forward This me or RRM Senior Strategist Paul Tyahla Forward Thisblank

Who wrote this? The managing editors of TWTW are Randi Kahn, who is craving all soup all the time, and Dana Davis, who has seen both of the Fyre Festival documentaries. Syneos Health Communications' Reputation & Risk Management Practice is a team of healthcare communications consultants, policy-shapers and crisis response specialists. We provide unique solutions to the evolving communications challenges in today’s healthcare industry, using evidence-based approaches to help our clients successfully navigate the most sensitive of situations. 

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Feeling nostalgic? We get it. Check out old TWTW issues here.

Image credits: Robot by from the Noun Project, Awareness Ribbon by Bohdan Burmich from the Noun Project, global by Ayub Irawan from the Noun Project, Money by Guilherme Furtado from the Noun Project, clock by Pavel N., RU 

About the Author:

Randi Kahn is a Senior Media & Content Director in our Reputation & Risk Management Practice, where she helps clients build and protect their brand reputations through executive thought leadership, public affairs, and issues preparation and response. She has worked for clients throughout the healthcare ecosystem including payers, providers, patient groups and pharma.