The credit strength of for-profit hospitals will fare best if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the healthcare reform law, rather than striking down some or all of the law, according to Moody’s Investors Service. But pharmaceutical and medical-device companies would likely benefit most if the Supreme Court throws out the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Is there too much regulation of healthcare information privacy, or too little? That was a key question that largely went unanswered for more than an hour, but sparked a lively debate among panelists and the audience at the 2nd International Summit on the Future of Health Privacy in Washington. Probably the most provocative statement during that June 5 debate came from panelist and privacy lawyer James Pyles, of the Washington firm of Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, who called on rule makers to add a definition of privacy principles to federal privacy regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
The Department of Health and Human Services continues to parse out potential requirements for essential health benefits A proposed rule released Tuesday reveals that HHS wants to use the small group market plan and product with the largest enrollment as the default benchmark plan, but only if a state doesn’t select its own benchmark.
HHS also proposes that the National Committee for Quality Assurance and the non-profit URAC serve as the interim accrediting organizations for health plans seeking to be part of the state health insurance exchanges.
Republican lawmakers with medical backgrounds will try to ensure that sick people who gained insurance under the 2010 U.S. health-care overhaul won’t lose coverage in the event the Supreme Court strikes down the law. The Republicans are preparing for a ruling that says it’s unconstitutional to require Americans to carry insurance while letting the rest of the law stand, said Representative Phil Gingrey, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Georgia who co-chairs a group of 21 lawmakers with health-care backgrounds.
UC Berkeley scientists have discovered a type of stem cell that appears to lie dormant in blood vessel walls for decades before waking up and causing the arterial hardening and clogging that are associated with deadly strokes and heart attacks. The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, go against the prevailing theory on the cause of heart disease – that the smooth muscle cells that line blood vessels become damaged over time and are triggered to proliferate.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. said Wednesday it was increasing its quarterly dividend by 31 percent and authorizing the repurchase of 110 million shares.
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), the parent of Cypress’ PacifiCare Health Systems, said in a news release that it will pay a cash dividend of 21.25 cents per share on June 22 to all shareholders of record as of June 15. That’s up from the 16.25 cents paid last quarter.
Children’s Hospital Central California has received a $1 million gift that will be used for the hospital’s child life, oncology and neurosurgery programs, honoring a Fresno native who himself battled cancer.
Robert Michael Shapazian, founding director of Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, died of lung cancer in June 2010 at age 67. The $1 million gift in his memory will allow Children’s Hospital to begin a pilot program in its imaging and emergency departments, hospital officials said.
Breaking! The White House engaged in secret deal-making with the pharmaceutical industry to help enact health care reform.
Or so went the headlines last week.
“Report: [White House] pushed hard for PhRMA health reform deal,” Politico revealed.
“Now we know why President Obama broke his promise … to have health care reform televised on C-Span,” the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll concluded.
In only 14 seconds, Dr. Ajay Patel is able to get up to 200 images of a patient’s jaw.
The Merced oral surgeon is able to perform that with a new three-dimensional cone-beam CT scan. With a two-dimensional CT scan, in contrast, he was only able to get one image.
Patel said the equipment is becoming the standard for care in many big cities, but he and other oral surgeons are bringing it to Merced County.
Five nights a week for Stockton’s busy Haddad family, you used to find them eating out – pizza, fried chicken, fast food burgers. You get the picture. They had all the menus down.
When they did eat at home, it was processed foods – boxed, canned or frozen.
“Nothing real, nothing organic,” said Sammer “Sam” Haddad, 40, who noted his three kids loved it “because they didn’t know any better. Just like their parents.”
Picture this: In a conference room at a major healthcare institution’s family health center, 10 patients sit in comfortable chairs waiting to discuss their asthma. After a few minutes, a facilitator enters—at some institutions, it’s a social worker or a nurse; here it’s a psychologist.
What questions do you have for the doctor? she asks. What concerns? Do you need medication refills? What are your goals for today? As each person speaks, the facilitator scribbles notes on a whiteboard, readying the group for the physician to arrive.
A subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group was accused by auditors of receiving as much as $115 million in overpayments from the CMS in 2007 by inappropriately using patient diagnosis codes to increase risk-adjusted reimbursements in the population-based insurance program Medicare Advantage.
The HHS inspector general’s audit (PDF) says the company, PacifiCare of Texas, claimed in one instance that it should receive enhanced payments for a patient with leg pain and difficulty walking because the beneficiary had a previous diagnosis for major recurrent depression. In another example, PacifiCare submitted a risk-adjusted claim involving vascular disease for a patient who was treated for dropping a heavy can on her foot.
The federal government’s healthcare leader touted the Obama administration’s initiatives to help spur health IT innovation and urged more technological breakthroughs at a gathering of technology professionals in Washington.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius chronicled the various federal initiatives in recent years aimed at encouraging the widespread adoption of electronic health records, including the 2009 enactment of a $27 billion EHR incentive program.
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares its decision on the landmark health care reform law, conversations about health care are happening just about everywhere – from the grocery store to the corner café – in big cities and in small towns. And the reason is simple: “Health care in America is now unsustainable,” says Don Berwick, former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “What we know is health care can be a lot better than it is and lower cost by changing health care to be more responsive to patients.
Somewhere around 25 percent of doctors practicing in this country have been trained at medical schools outside the United States (a good percentage are from India, the Philippines, Mexico, Pakistan and the Dominican Republic).
Some of these foreign-trained doctors grew up in foreign countries. Others are American citizens who were not able to find a spot in a U.S. medical school and decided to go abroad for medical training.
CT scans in children can cause small but significant increases in the risk of leukemia and brain cancer, a new study finds. Researchers say the results do not mean that CT scans should be avoided entirely — they can be vitally important in certain situations, like diagnosing severe head injuries — but that the test should be performed only when necessary, and with the lowest possible dose of radiation. CT, or computed tomography, scans take X-rays from various angles and combine them to create cross-sectional images, and they involve much more radiation than traditional X-ray techniques.
A closely watched case testing California’s Mental Health Parity law has withstood a call for a rehearing. The Courthouse News Service reports that this week the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its decision from August 2011 requiring Blue Shield to cover one woman’s treatment for anorexia under state law, even though it wasn’t spelled out in her policy.
As the next act of the Massachusetts health care drama plays out on Beacon Hill, the same characters return to the stage with a tired script. The ostensible hero of the production, the patient, is left to watch the tragedy from the back row.
Legislation being debated on Beacon Hill ignores patient-centered health plans and health savings accounts, or HSAs, which are lower-premium insurance plans that direct pre-tax dollars into a bank account to cover an individual’s current health care and save money for future medical expenses.