UnitedHealthCare

Executives at two commercial payors said they'd follow CMS' lead when it comes to patients covered under Medicare but beyond that their support for the agency's policy is less clear. 

Payors say online, automated systems will bring standardization and efficiency to prior authorizations, but doctors and labs are uncertain about the impact on patient care.

During the quarter, the firm secured payor coverage for its tests with UnitedHealthcare, Premera Blue Cross, and Aetna. 

Starting Oct. 1, the insurer will require clinicians and labs who order genetic and molecular tests for their patients to first get approval. 

The long-term pricing contract covers hereditary cancer testing, GeneSight, and a number of other diagnostics, but doesn't extend to coverage. 

The decision is a quick reversal from a recent decision by the insurer not to cover fecal DNA testing and makes it the final major US insurer to cover Cologuard.

The test, intended as an aid for diagnosing thyroid cancer where cytopathology is inconclusive, is now covered for around 250 million patients nationwide.

United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna, and Anthem now cover the Harmony test, which predicts fetal risk for trisomies 21, 18, and 13.

The coverage is for Paradigm's PCDx test, and will extend to all patients insured by UnitedHealthcare throughout the United States.

Under a national agreement, UnitedHealthcare will cover the FoundationOne genomic profiling assay in patients with metastatic stage IV non-small cell lung cancer.

Pages

Reuters reports that UK researchers are using gene-editing tools to develop flu-resistant chickens.

Nature calls for genomics to become part of the World Health Organization's cholera surveillance approach.

Vox explores a proposal to institute a lottery system to award grant funds.

In Genome Biology this week: gut microbiome study of individuals from Tanzania and Botswana, sixth version of the Network of Cancer Genes database, and more.