News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Covered California sees small business enrollment leap 30% for 2018
San Francisco Business Times

The state health insurance marketplace saw more than 40,000 small business members with up to 100 employees sign up for coverage. That’s up from 14,183 businesses in 2014 — and the agency expects to see more signups with this year’s lower prices and an easier enrollment process.

News Headlines Article

Loss of CHIP funding could affect thousands of Long Beach area children
Long Beach Press-Telegram

Families in Long Beach and other California cities who rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program benefits will likely receive some level of care well into 2019, but it’s unclear whether they will be able to count upon the same level of services.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is a 20-year-old federal program intended to aid children whose families are not so needy that they would qualify for Medicaid assistance, but who are also unable to pay for health coverage on their own.

News Headlines Article

Top California payers, providers to use same quality measures for ACOs
Modern Healthcare

Top health plans and providers in California announced Friday that they have joined an effort to use a unified, standard set of quality performance measures for accountable care organization reporting. The initiative is intended to ease the administrative burden for clinicians who must report a vast array of quality data for participation in ACOs run by different private payers.

News Headlines Article

Industry Voices—4 emerging liability exposures hospitals must prepare for in 2018
FierceHealthcare

The year 2017 held much uncertainty for the healthcare industry. With the debate over healthcare reform far from settled, 2018 is shaping up to be a challenging year.

Yet in the ongoing debate about healthcare reform, many hospital executives must keep several emerging medical liability risks on their radar, including the opioid crisis, violence in hospitals, aging providers, and missed and delayed diagnoses specifically as they relate to infections.

News Headlines Article

Americans sprint to get Affordable Care Act coverage in last hours before deadline
Washington Post

Consumers jammed call centers and enrollment offices in the final sprint toward the Friday deadline in most of the country to get Affordable Care Act health plans for 2018, defying months of naysaying by President Trump about the law’s insurance marketplaces. In several states, enrollment helpers reported a crush of interest in recent days. Some navigator organizations, which help people sign up, received more requests for appointments than they could accommodate — a consequence of an enrollment season that is half as long as the past three years’ time frame and large cuts by federal officials in grants to those groups.

News Headlines Article

GOP leader says Congress will ‘deal with’ mandatory Medicare cuts
Modern Healthcare

The Senate’s second-highest ranking Republican yesterday pledged to protect Medicare from more than $25 billion in mandatory cuts that would be trigged by tax overhaul legislation barreling toward passage.The tax bill, which could come to a vote as early as Tuesday, is estimated to add nearly $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. The Budget Control Act of 2011, however, requires Congress pay for any legislation that increases the deficit. The budget law limits Medicare cuts to four percentage points, which the Congressional Budget Office projected to be $25 billion in 2018.”We will deal with that later this week.

News Headlines Article

GOP tax bill could trigger $25 billion in cuts to Medicare
San Francisco Chronicle

The GOP tax bill, finalized Friday, could lead to large cuts in Medicare spending starting in 2018 — prompting concern among consumer groups and policy experts that the health insurance program for seniors may be weakened as a result of Republicans’ push to lower corporate tax rates. The legislation, which Congress is scheduled to vote on Tuesday, does not explicitly include language to reduce Medicare spending. However, because of a law that requires cuts to certain federal programs if Congress passes legislation that creates a deficit, the bill could trigger cuts of $25 billion, or 4 percent, to Medicare starting next year.

News Headlines Article

Healthcare issues loom large as Congress tackles spending bills, tax reform
Modern Healthcare

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.Congress is heading into its final week of action before the end of the year. Whether the entire government shuts down remains to be seen. The current continuing resolution—a stopgap that Congress uses to sustain government funding when lawmakers can’t pass a more comprehensive budget—ends Dec. 22. Members of both chambers have been scrambling to assemble a short-term spending plan to keep the lights on until Jan. 19.As usual, Defense Department appropriations are a major sticking point, but this year healthcare issues are front and center as well.

News Headlines Article

Cancer clinical trials exclude many desperate patients. Should that change?
Washington Post

When 29-year-old Carly Bastiansen was diagnosed in January 2016 with advanced pancreatic cancer, doctors told her a clinical trial was her best shot at slowing the notoriously quick-killing and hard-to-treat disease. She found one that appeared promising and went through the screening process. But the trial would not accept her.

“Participating in a clinical trial is really my only chance at living longer,” Bastiansen, a children’s librarian in Baltimore, said this fall as she was growing weaker. “To have had that option taken off the table was devastating.”

News Headlines Article

Hospital execs remain wary of bitcoin as the currency goes mainstream
Modern Healthcare

If there’s one thing healthcare folks know about bitcoin, it’s that the cryptocurrency can be used for paying ransom. The poorly understood currency is how many organizations have paid to get their data back from the hackers who sneak into their IT systems and encrypt it. THE TAKEAWAY Bitcoin futures recently launched on a mainstream exchange. But the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt the cryptocurrency for anything more than paying ransom for breached data. Meanwhile, outside the industry, bitcoin has gone mainstream, as futures for the cryptocurrency became available for the first time in a big, regulated market.

News Headlines Article

In Election Year, Drug Industry Spent Big To Temper Talk About High Drug Prices
National Public Radio

Facing bipartisan hostility over high drug prices in an election year, the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest trade group boosted revenue by nearly a fourth in 2016 and spread the millions collected among hundreds of lobbyists, politicians and patient groups, new filings show. It was the biggest surge for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, since the group took battle stations to advance its interests in 2009 during the run-up to the Affordable Care Act.

News Headlines Article

Even when insurance doesn’t cover dental care, you may be able to curb costs
Washington Post

Fifty-one percent of adults ages 50 to 64 don’t know how they’ll get dental insurance once they reach age 65, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) from the University of Michigan

The survey, which included a nationally representative group of 1,066 middle-aged adults, also found that only 41 percent of participants felt they had very good or excellent oral health, and more than a quarter had delayed or skipped needed dental care in the past two years. Of those, 69 percent said the cost of dental care was a major barrier.

News Headlines Article

Looking North: Can A Single-Payer Health System Work In The U.S.?
Kaiser Health News

For Dr. Peter Cram, an American internist who spent most of his career practicing in Iowa City, Iowa, moving here about four years ago was almost a no-brainer.

He’s part of a small cohort of American doctors who, for personal or professional reasons, have moved north to practice in Canada’s single-payer system. Now when he sees patients, he doesn’t worry about whether they can afford treatment. He knows “everyone gets a basic level of care,” so he focuses less on their finances and more on actual medical needs.

News Headlines Article

When hospitals merge, you pay the bill
USA Today

Health insurers are not the most beloved companies. They deny claims, bury people in paperwork, and generally make life more difficult.

But a good case can be made that America’s health care woes lie more with its providers than its insurers. Some communities are served by a single hospital or group of specialists. Some patients are reliant on a single drug. That gives these businesses enormous leverage to hike prices.

In theory, insurance companies hold down costs by driving hard bargains with providers. In reality, they find it difficult to do so.

News Headlines Article

Commentary: Universal health care doable for less cost
CALmatters

When the Legislature reconvenes and the campaigns for governor heat up next year, Californians will be hearing a lot – and a lot of hot air – about universal health care. Making California the first state to guarantee health care for every resident has become a touchstone issue – and a divisive one – for the state’s dominant Democrats. The state Assembly will take up – or possibly ignore – a universal health care bill that the Senate passed this year.

News Headlines Article

Guest Commentary: ‘Repeal and replace’ is now ‘co-opt and confuse’
Modern Healthcare

Congressional Republicans are still actively trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, most recently folding repeal of the individual mandate into the tax reform bill. But what fewer observers may realize is that the Trump administration is also pursuing troubling new directions in healthcare in other, less obvious places.Recently they’ve turned their attention to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, the agency created by the ACA to test new models for healthcare payment and delivery. This time, instead of “repeal and replace,” the strategy appears to be “co-opt and confuse.

News Headlines Article

Guest commentary: In defense of the individual mandate and increased outreach
Modern Healthcare

After passing both houses of Congress, the Republican tax bill was approved in conference committee with a final vote expected before Christmas. The House approved the Senate’s inclusion of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, misrepresenting the mandate as an unfair tax on healthy Americans. That’s unfortunate.The tax bill gives large tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations, increasing the deficit by as much as $1.4 trillion in the process, according to one projection. To reduce this shortfall, the Senate and now the House decided to discourage Americans from buying health insurance, thus reducing the subsidy payments that keep the plans affordable, especially for low-income individuals and families.

News Headlines Article

Health care mergers benefit patients
USA Today

Rapid changes in the larger health care field are leading hospitals and health systems to explore new ways to enhance quality, reduce costs, and provide more convenient access to care to meet patients’ needs on their terms.

Hospitals aren’t alone: The decision by CVS to acquire health insurer Aetna is based on the idea of building a care system closer to consumers that is more responsive to their needs. Those same goals are driving some hospitals and health systems to join together.

Commands