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Brainstorm Health: Lyft Rides for Cancer Patients, Cigna Opioid Initiative, Omada Health Expansion

Hello, readers—This is Sy.

Ride sharing giant Lyft is offering cancer patients free rides to and from their treatments in 10 major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Miami, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Denver, St. Louis, and Atlanta.

The free rides are part of an existing Lyft collaboration with the American Cancer Society (ACS) called Road to Recovery that’s now being expanded across the country.

“The best treatment in the world can’t help someone if they can’t access it,” said Megan Wessel, a vice president at ACS, when the initial project was launched last fall. “Access to care is a big problem in our country, therefore transportation programs and partnerships like the one we are launching with Lyft in Miami-Dade County are vital for these patients to get the treatments they need and deserve.”

Patients seeking the free rides can coordinate with the American Cancer Society by calling 800-227-2345 or visiting www.cancer.org. ACS will then use the Lyft Concierge service to arrange a ride.

However, those who want to use the service are encouraged to book the trips several days in advance, and reminded that it can only be used for cancer-related medical appointments.

The American Cancer Society partnership isn’t Lyft’s only foray into medical transportation. (Competitor Uber also has a number of similar initiatives.) Last May, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) teamed up with Lyft to help people in isolated areas covered by certain Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans get free rides to the hospital.

“Many Americans live in areas where medical care is beyond the reach of walking, biking or public transportation. As a result, they struggle to access critical health care services, even when they have health insurance,” said Dr. Trent Haywood, BCBSA chief medical officer and president of the BCBS Institute, in a statement at the time. “We are committed to addressing issues like transportation that are inextricably linked to health outcomes, yet can’t be tackled through health care resources alone.”

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

Omada Health levels up its platform. Digital health and diabetes maintenance firm Omada Health—a company that has a rare distinction as one that’s actually won federal reimbursements for its technology on a wide scale—will “now offer integrated condition management programs for enterprise and health plan customers,” the company announced Thursday. In plainer terms, it’s a huge ramp up for Omada that could expand its user base with the help of a number of new offerings, including programs to help maintain blood pressure and glucose levels through medication adherence and monitoring programs. Omada’s technology is geared at preventing people at risk for developing chronic conditions from, well, actually developing them, including through the use of digitally connected sensors and health coaches.

Oscar spreads into more states and doubles down on Obamacare. Oscar Health is sticking by its bet on Obamacare markets (while it simultaneously expands into more enterprise-focused sectors), announcing Thursday that it will offer individual health insurance plans in three more states (Florida, Michigan, and Arizona). The tech-savvy health insurance company has previously bled money, but CEO Mario Schlosser believes that the addition of new cities to its clientele will pay out in the end despite persisting regulatory uncertainty about Obamacare markets. (CNBC)

INDICATIONS

Cigna aims to slash opioid overdoses with new initiative. Health insurance giant Cigna announced Thursday a new initiative to combat the opioid epidemic which aims to cut opioid painkiller-related drug overdoses by 25% by the end of 2021. “Behind every number, there are real people struggling along with families, employers and communities,” said Cigna CEO David M. Cordani in a statement. “Our commitment to reduce drug overdoses by 25 percent is a commitment to each and every one of them, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to meet it.” Just how does the firm plan to achieve this? In part by pouring money into locales disproportionately affected by the epidemic (such as certain parts of New Jersey, Virginia, and New York, among others) to cut down on excess prescriptions.

THE BIG PICTURE

Association health plans and their discontents. The Trump administration’s most recent Obamacare-undercutting play involves something called “association health plans.” As we’ve previously reported, such plans would allow small businesses to band together to form and sell health insurance plans which may be cheaper than those available on Obamacare’s individual and small business markets—but with a critical tradeoff that would allow them to provide far skimpier benefits. For instance, essential health benefits such as maternity and mental health care mandated under the Affordable Care Act might go by the wayside under such offerings. (New York Times)

REQUIRED READING

Alibaba v. Tencent: The Battle for Supremacy in Chinaby Adam Lashinsky

Why Bank of America Has Filed Nearly 50 Blockchain-Related Patentsby Lucinda Shen

Seattle Says It’s the Last Straw As It Bans Plastic Utensilsby Glenn Fleishman

Intel CEO Resigns After ‘Consensual Relationship’ With Employeeby Aaron Pressman

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

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