Day 13, Cushing’s Awareness Challenge 2016

UVA 2004
Cushing’s Conventions have always been special times for me – we learn a lot, get to meet other Cushies, even get referrals to endos!

As early as 2001 (or before) my pituitary function was dropping.  My former endo tested annually but did nothing to help me with the symptoms.

In the fall of 2002 my endo refused to discuss my fatigue or anything at all with me until I lost 10 pounds. He said I wasn’t worth treating in my overweight condition and that I was setting myself up for a heart attack. He gave me 3 months to lose this weight. Those 3 months included Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  Needless to say, I left his office in tears, again.

Fast forward 2 years to 2004.  I had tried for a while to get my records from this endo. He wouldn’t send them, even at doctors’ or my requests.

I wanted to go see Dr. Vance at UVa but I had no records so she wouldn’t see me until I could get them.

Finally, my husband went to the former endo’s office and threatened him with a court order. The office manager managed to come up with about 13 pages of records. For going to him from 1986 to 2001 including weeks and weeks at NIH and pituitary surgery, that didn’t seem like enough records to me.

In April of 2004, many of us from the message boards went to the UVa Pituitary Days Convention. That’s where the picture above comes in.  Other pictures from that convention are here.

By chance, we met a wonderful woman named Barbara Craven. She sat at our table for lunch on the last day and, after we learned that she was a dietitian who had had Cushing’s, one of us jokingly asked her if she’d do a guest chat for us. I didn’t follow through on this until she emailed me later. In the email, she asked how I was doing. Usually I say “fine” or “ok” but for some reason, I told her exactly how awful I was feeling.

Barbara emailed me back and said I should see a doctor at Johns Hopkins. I said I didn’t think I could get a recommendation to there, so SHE referred me. The doctor got right back to me, set up an appointment. Between his vacation and mine, that first appointment turned out to be Tuesday, Sept 14, 2004.

Just getting through the maze at Johns Hopkins was amazing. They have the whole system down to a science, moving from one place to another to sign in, then go here, then window 6, then… But it was very efficient.

My new doctor was wonderful. Understanding, knowledgeable. He never once said that I was “too fat” or “depressed” or that all this was my own fault. I feel so validated, finally.

He looked through my records, especially at my 2 previous Insulin Tolerance Tests (ITT). From those, he determined that my growth hormone has been low since at least August 2001 and I’ve been adrenal insufficient since at least Fall, 1999 – possibly as much as 17 years! I was amazed to hear all this, and astounded that my former endo not only didn’t tell me any of this, he did nothing. He had known both of these things – they were in the past records that I took with me. Perhaps that was why he had been so reluctant to share copies of those records. He had given me Cortef in the fall of 1999 to take just in case I had “stress” and that was it.

The new endo took a lot of blood (no urine!) for cortisol and thyroid stuff. I went back on Sept. 28, 2004 for arginine, cortrosyn and IGF testing.

He said that I would end up on daily cortisone – a “sprinkling” – and some form of GH, based on the testing the 28th.

For those who are interested, my new endo is Roberto Salvatori, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins

Medical School: Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy
Residency: Montefiore Medical Center
Fellowship: Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University
Board Certification: Endocrinology and Metabolism, Internal Medicine

Clinical Interests: Neuroendocrinology, pituitary disorders, adrenal disorders

Research Interests: Control of growth hormone secretion, genetic causes of growth hormone deficiency, consequences of growth hormone deficiency.

Although I have this wonderful doctor, a specialist in growth hormone deficiency at Johns Hopkins, in November, 2004, my insurance company saw fit to over-ride his opinions and his test results based on my past pharmaceutical history! Hello??? How could I have a history of taking GH when I’ve never taken it before?

Of course, I found out late on a Friday afternoon. By then it was too late to call my case worker at the drug company, so we had to appeal on Monday. My local insurance person also worked on an appeal, but the whole thing was  just another long ordeal of finding paperwork, calling people, FedExing stuff, too much work when I just wanted to start feeling better by Thanksgiving.

As it turned out the insurance company rejected the brand of hGH that was prescribed for me. They gave me the ok for a growth hormone was just FDA-approved for adults on 11/4/04. The day this medication was approved for adults was the day after my insurance said that’s what is preferred for me. In the past, this form of hGH was only approved for children with height issues. Was I going to be a ginuea pig again?

The new GH company assigned a rep for me, submitted info to pharmacy, and waited for insurance approval, again.

I finally started the Growth Hormone December 7, 2004.

Was the hassle and 3 year wait worth it?

Stay tuned for April 15, 2016 when all will be revealed.

Read

Read Dr. Barbara Craven’s Guest Chat, October 27, 2004

Thanks for reading 🙂

MaryO

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Health Policy Monthly Update : October

Presidential Candidates Release Proposals to Impact Drug Prices

Democratic candidates for President Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced separate proposals that would impact pharmaceutical pricing and potentially inhibit innovation. The proposals include providing Medicaid-level rebates in Medicare Part D; allowing importation of drugs from other countries; reducing the exclusivity period for biologics; requiring negotiation with the federal government for Part D rebates; preventing certain patent settlements between innovator and generics companies; requiring pharmaceutical companies to invest a specific percentage of revenue in R&D; removing tax deductions for direct-to-consumer advertising; and pushing drug companies to price based on the value of treatments assessed via comparative effective analysis.
 
House Speaker Resigns, Government Shutdown Averted

John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, announced that he will resign from Congress, effective October 31. With his resignation, Speaker Boehner was able to put forth a bill to avert a partial government shutdown that would have begun October 1, 2015 if Congress had not passed legislation to provide funding to keep the government functioning. Previously, Speaker Boehner had faced threats to his leadership position if he put forward the bill, which included funding for Planned Parenthood. On September 30, legislation providing funding for the government until December 11 was passed by both the House and Senate and was signed by President Obama.
 
NCQA Releases Health Plan Ratings

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) released a new health plan rating system, using a 1.0 to 5.0 scale with 5.0 indicating higher performance. This new rating system replaces their previous health plan ranking system. Evaluating more than 1,000 plans, including commercial, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D plans, the new rating system assesses three major performance categories, consumer satisfaction, prevention, and treatment and it provides a simple way for consumers to gauge the quality of care being provided by a health plan. The new plan rating system shows that Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin had the highest percentage of plans receiving a 4.5 or 5.0 rating.

 
CMS Announces Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design

On September 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model, which will test the hypothesis that giving Medicare Advantage plans flexibility to offer targeted extra supplemental benefits or reduced cost sharing to enrollees who have specified chronic conditions can lead to higher quality and more cost-efficient care. The VBID Model will begin January 1, 2017 and run for five years. CMS will test the model in seven states: Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Upon approval from CMS, eligible Medicare Advantage plans in these states can offer varied plan benefit design for enrollees who fall into the following clinical categories: diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), past stroke, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and mood disorders.
 
Medicare Advantage and Part D Markets Largely Stable from 2015-2016

On September 21, 2015, CMS announced that premiums for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans will remain stable in 2016. CMS estimates that the average MA premium will decrease by $0.31 next year, from $32.91 on average in 2015 to $32.60 in 2016. Enrollment in MA is projected to increase to approximately 17.4 million enrollees, which represents about 32 percent of the Medicare population. Earlier this year, CMS announced that the average basic Medicare prescription drug plan premium in 2016 is projected to remain stable at $32.50 per month. The Annual Election Period for Medicare health and drug plans begins on October 15, 2015 and ends December 7, 2015.
 
CMS Announces the Enhanced Medication Therapy Management Model

On September 28, 2015, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) announced a five-year model to test approaches to improve Medicare Part D beneficiary medication use. The Part D Enhanced Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Model will test whether changes to the Part D program can help to better align the interests of plan sponsors with those of the federal government. Eligible basic stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs), upon approval from CMS, can vary the intensity and types of MTM items and services based on beneficiary risk level and seek out a range of strategies to individualize beneficiary and prescriber outreach and engagement. An initial five-year performance period will begin January 1, 2017 in five Part D regions spanning 11 states: Region 7 (Virginia), Region 11 (Florida), Region 21 (Louisiana), Region 25 (Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming), and Region 28 (Arizona).

 
HHS Releases Latest Exchange Enrollment Numbers

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released their latest enrollment numbers for both the federal and state exchanges. As is to be expected, actual enrollment is down slightly from the March report. Almost 9.9 million people had paid their first month’s premium as of June 30, slightly above the projected enrollment of 9.1 million people. Of those paying their premiums, 84%, or 8.3 million, received premium tax credits and 5.5 million people also received cost sharing subsidies. Premium tax credits averaged $270 a month. Approximately 423,000 people had their 2015 coverage terminated for failure to provide the necessary documentation of citizenship or legal immigrant status. More than 6.7 million people enrolled in a silver tiered plan, 2.1 million enrolled in bronze or catastrophic, almost 700,000 selected a gold tier and 332,000 picked platinum. In early September, CMS reported that Medicaid and CHIP enrollment had reached 72 million. The increase in both public and private insurance programs has dropped the national uninsured rate to below 10%.

 
HHS Issues Proposed Rule Regarding ACA’s Non-discrimination Provisions

HHS issued a draft rule providing clarity to the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on discrimination in insurance coverage on the basis of race, color, age, national origin, sex, and disability. The proposed rule covers consumers’ rights under the ACA, obligations of covered entities, the inclusion of gender identify discrimination as a form of sex discrimination, requirements for effective communication to those with disabilities, and language assistance for those with limited English proficiency. Discriminatory practices in benefit plan design, marketing and cost sharing are prohibited. The proposed regulations apply to health insurers participating in the federal and state-based exchanges, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid programs. These protections are extended to all individual and group products sold by a participating insurer. As drafted, the proposed regulations are a step forward in eliminating discriminatory practices that prevent patients with chronic conditions from accessing necessary medication but opportunities for more specific language in the final regulations remain.

Day Eleven, Cushing’s Awareness Challenge 2015

UVA 2004
Cushing’s Conventions have always been special times for me – we learn a lot, get to meet other Cushies, even get referrals to endos!

As early as 2001 (or before) my pituitary function was dropping.  My former endo tested annually but did nothing to help me with the symptoms.

In the fall of 2002 my endo refused to discuss my fatigue or anything at all with me until I lost 10 pounds. He said I wasn’t worth treating in my overweight condition and that I was setting myself up for a heart attack. He gave me 3 months to lose this weight. Those 3 months included Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  Needless to say, I left his office in tears, again.

Fast forward 2 years to 2004.  I had tried for awhile to get my records from this endo. He wouldn’t send them, even at doctors’ or my requests.

I wanted to go see Dr. Vance at UVa but I had no records so she would’t see me until I could get them.

Finally, my husband went to the former endo’s office and threatened him with a court order. The office manager managed to come up with about 13 pages of records. For going to him from 1986 to 2001 including weeks and weeks at NIH and pituitary surgery, that didn’t seem like enough records to me.

In April of 2004, many of us from the message boards went to the UVa Pituitary Days Convention. That’s where the picture above comes in.  Other pictures from that convention are here.

By chance, we met a wonderful woman named

Read Barbara Craven. She sat at our table for lunch on the last day and, after we learned that she was a dietitian who had had Cushing’s, one of us jokingly asked her if she’d do a guest chat for us. I didn’t follow through on this until she emailed me later. In the email, she asked how I was doing. Usually I say “fine” or “ok” but for some reason, I told her exactly how awful I was feeling.

Barbara emailed me back and said I should see a doctor at Johns Hopkins. I said I didn’t think I could get a recommendation to there, so SHE referred me. The doctor got right back to me, set up an appointment. Between his vacation and mine, that first appointment turned out to be Tuesday, Sept 14, 2004.

Just getting through the maze at Johns Hopkins was amazing. They have the whole system down to a science, moving from one place to another to sign in, then go here, then window 6, then… But it was very efficient.

My new doctor was wonderful. Understanding, knowledgeable. He never once said that I was “too fat” or “depressed” or that all this was my own fault. I feel so validated, finally.

He looked through my records, especially at my 2 previous Insulin Tolerance Tests. From those, he determined that my growth hormone has been low since at least August 2001 and I’ve been adrenal insufficient since at least Fall, 1999 – possibly as much as 10 years! I was amazed to hear all this, and astounded that my former endo not only didn’t tell me any of this, he did nothing. He had known both of these things – they were in the past records that I took with me. Perhaps that was why he had been so reluctant to share copies of those records. He had given me Cortef in the fall of 1999 to take just in case I had “stress” and that was it.

The new endo took a lot of blood (no urine!) for cortisol and thyroid stuff. I went back on Sept. 28, 2004 for arginine, cortrosyn and IGF testing.

He said that I would end up on daily cortisone – a “sprinkling” – and some form of GH, based on the testing the 28th.

For those who are interested, my new endo is Roberto Salvatori, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins

Medical School: Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy
Residency: Montefiore Medical Center
Fellowship: Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University
Board Certification: Endocrinology and Metabolism, Internal Medicine

Clinical Interests: Neuroendocrinology, pituitary disorders, adrenal disorders

Research Interests: Control of growth hormone secretion, genetic causes of growth hormone deficiency, consequences of growth hormone deficiency.

Although I have this wonderful doctor, a specialist in growth hormone deficiency at Johns Hopkins, in November, 2004, my insurance company saw fit to over-ride his opinions and his test results based on my past pharmaceutical history! Hello??? How could I have a history of taking GH when I’ve never taken it before?

Of course, I found out late on a Friday afternoon. By then it was too late to call my case worker at the drug company, so we had to appeal on Monday. My local insurance person also worked on an appeal, but the whole thing was  just another long ordeal of finding paperwork, calling people, FedExing stuff, too much work when I just wanted to start feeling better by Thanksgiving.

As it turned out the insurance company rejected the brand of hGH that was prescribed for me. They gave me the ok for a growth hormone was just FDA-approved for adults on 11/4/04. The day this medication was approved for adults was the day after my insurance said that’s what is preferred for me. In the past, this form of hGH was only approved for children with height issues. Was I going to be a ginuea pig again?

The new GH company assigned a rep for me, submitted info to pharmacy, and waited for insurance approval, again.

I finally started the Growth Hormone December 7, 2004.

Was the hassle and 3 year wait worth it?

Stay tuned for tomorrow, April 12, 2015 when all will be revealed.

Read

Read Dr. Barbara Craven’s Guest Chat, October 27, 2004

Thanks for reading 🙂

MaryO

Questions about Korlym?

Corcept is providing a nurse to help with insurance and other topics.

If you want a person to talk with her contact info is:

Kate Tully, R.N., B.S.N.
(650) 688-2804
ktully@corcept.com

Cushing’s Patient Advocate
Corcept Therapeutics
149 Commonwealth Drive
Menlo Park, CA 94025

More information about Korlym at http://www.korlym.com

Day Nine, Cushing’s Awareness Challenge

UVA 2004
Cushing’s Conventions have always been special times for me – we learn a lot, get to meet other Cushies, even get referrals to endos!

As early as 2001 (or before) my pituitary function was dropping.  My former endo tested annually but did nothing to help me with the symptoms.

In the fall of 2002 my endo refused to discuss my fatigue or anything at all with me until I lost 10 pounds. He said I wasn’t worth treating in my overweight condition and that I was setting myself up for a heart attack. He gave me 3 months to lose this weight. Those 3 months included Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  Needless to say, I left his office in tears, again.

Fast forward 2 years to 2004.  I had tried for awhile to get my records from this endo. He wouldn’t send them, even at doctors’ or my requests.

I wanted to go see Dr. Vance at UVa but I had no records so she would’t see me until I could get them.

Finally, my husband went to the former endo’s office and threatened him with a court order, The office manager managed to come up with about 13 pages of records. For going to him from 1986 to 2001 including weeks and weeks at NIH and pituitary surgery, that didn’t seem like enough records to me.

In April of 2004, many of us from the message boards went to the UVa Pituitary Days Convention. That’s where the picture above comes in.  Other pictures from that convention are here.

By chance, we met a wonderful woman named Barbara Craven. She sat at our table for lunch on the last day and, after we learned that she was a dietitian who had had Cushing’s, one of us jokingly asked her if she’d do a guest chat for us. I didn’t follow through on this until she emailed me later. In the email, she asked how I was doing. Usually I say “fine” or “ok” but for some reason, I told her exactly how awful I was feeling.

Barbara emailed me back and said I should see a doctor at Johns Hopkins. I said I didn’t think I could get a recommendation to there, so SHE referred me. The doctor got right back to me, set up an appointment. Between his vacation and mine, that first appointment turned out to be Tuesday, Sept 14, 2004.

Just getting through the maze at Johns Hopkins was amazing. They have the whole system down to a science, moving from one place to another to sign in, then go here, then window 6, then… But it was very efficient.

My new doctor was wonderful. Understanding, knowledgeable. He never once said that I was “too fat” or “depressed” or that all this was my own fault. I feel so validated, finally.

He looked through my records, especially at my 2 previous Insulin Tolerance Tests. From those, he determined that my growth hormone has been low since at least August 2001 and I’ve been adrenal insufficient since at least Fall, 1999 – possibly as much as 10 years! I was amazed to hear all this, and astounded that my former endo not only didn’t tell me any of this, he did nothing. He had known both of these things – they were in the past records that I took with me. Perhaps that was why he had been so reluctant to share copies of those records. He had given me Cortef in the fall of 1999 to take just in case I had “stress” and that was it.

The new endo took a lot of blood (no urine!) for cortisol and thyroid stuff. I went back on Sept. 28, 2004 for arginine, cortrosyn and IGF testing.

He said that I would end up on daily cortisone – a “sprinkling” – and some form of GH, based on the testing the 28th.

For those who are interested, my new endo is Roberto Salvatori, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins

Medical School: Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy
Residency: Montefiore Medical Center
Fellowship: Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University
Board Certification: Endocrinology and Metabolism, Internal Medicine

Clinical Interests: Neuroendocrinology, pituitary disorders, adrenal disorders

Research Interests: Control of growth hormone secretion, genetic causes of growth hormone deficiency, consequences of growth hormone deficiency.

Although I have this wonderful doctor, a specialist in growth hormone deficiency at Johns Hopkins, in November, 2004, my insurance company saw fit to over-ride his opinions and his test results based on my past pharmaceutical history! Hello??? How could I have a history of taking GH when I’ve never taken it before?

Of course, I found out late on a Friday afternoon. By then it was too late to call my case worker at the drug company, so we had to appeal on Monday. My local insurance person also worked on an appeal, but the whole thing was  just another long ordeal of finding paperwork, calling people, FedExing stuff, too much work when I just wanted to start feeling better by Thanksgiving.

As it turned out the insurance company rejected the brand of hGH that was prescribed for me. They gave me the ok for a growth hormone was just FDA-approved for adults on 11/4/04. The day this medication was approved for adults was the day after my insurance said that’s what is preferred for me. In the past, this form of hGH was only approved for children with height issues. Was I going to be a ginuea pig again?

The new GH company assigned a rep for me, submitted info to pharmacy, and waited for insurance approval, again.

I finally started the Growth Hormone December 7, 2004.

Was the hassle and 3 year wait worth it?

Stay tuned for Day 12, April 12, 2012 when all will be revealed.

 

Read Dr. Barbara Craven’s Guest Chat, October 27, 2004

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

MaryO

%d bloggers like this: