News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Healthcare bill to be released March 26, House speaker says
Becker's Hospital Review

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., revealed that Democrats plan to reveal a healthcare bill on March 26, according to Bloomberg.

“This week, we will take another step forward to strengthen protections for pre-existing conditions, reverse the GOP’s healthcare sabotage, and lower Americans’ health costs,” the speaker stated.

House Democrats also will continue to fight to lower drug prices, according to the speaker’s statement.

The healthcare proposal is slated to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the ACA being signed into law, Bloomberg reports.

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DOJ changes course: Entire ACA should be struck down
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday took a broader stance against the Affordable Care Act, telling a federal appeals court the entire law can be discarded.

The agency called on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a district court ruling invalidating the entire Obamacare law, saying it “is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”

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Trump administration asks court to completely invalidate Obama’s Affordable Care Act
Washington Post

In a significant shift, the Justice Department now says that it backs a full invalidation of the Affordable Care Act, the signature Obama-era health law.

It presented its position in a legal filing Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, where an appeal is pending in a case challenging the measure’s constitutionality. A federal judge in Texas ruled in December that the law’s individual mandate “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of Congress’s tax power” and further found that the remaining portions of the law are void. He based his judgment on changes to the nation’s tax laws made by congressional Republicans in 2017.

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State-based exchange enrollment holds steady, drops
Modern Healthcare

The federal government reported that 11.4 million people selected a health plan through the Affordable Care Act exchanges during the most recent open enrollment period for coverage in 2019—the first year in which there is no penalty for not buying health insurance.

Across all states, enrollment slid by about 300,000 people, or 2.6%, from 2018. That decrease was driven by lower enrollment in the 39 states that use the federally operated marketplace known as Enrollment in the 12 states that run their own exchanges ticked up by almost 1%.

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Proposed law would end surprise ER bills

A trip to the emergency room can cost you thousands of dollars more than you expected.

Now, a few California lawmakers are working to put an end to surprise ER bills.

Even if a patient pays for private insurance, an ambulance might transport him or her to a hospital not covered under a patient’s insurance plan. In that case, the patient could end up with a lot of financial pain.

AB 1611 would prevent California hospitals from charging ER patients outside their regular co-pay or deductible even if the hospital is out-of-network.

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As a cure for high drug prices, outcomes-based deals aren’t delivering yet
Modern Healthcare

Facing growing calls for regulating prescription drug prices, the pharmaceutical industry has touted a preferred alternative for making drugs more affordable—private deals in which health plans pay them more or less for a drug depending on how well it works for plan members.

But insurers and independent experts say outcomes-based contracting has made slow and uncertain progress since it was introduced in the past decade, with few if any published results. While it may help on the margins with some drugs, many observers doubt it offers a viable solution to the broad problem of prescription drug affordability in the U.S.

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New Rules Will Ease Patients’ Access To Electronic Medical Records, Senate Panel Says
Kaiser Health News

The chairman of the Senate health committee on Tuesday backed new federal regulations to remove roadblocks patients can face in obtaining copies of their electronic medical records.

“These proposed rules remove barriers and should make it easier for patients to more quickly access, use and understand their personal medical information,” Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, said in a statement prepared for a hearing on the rules that kicks off Tuesday at 10 a.m.

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Private equity sees ripe opportunity in healthcare this year

Private equity investment in healthcare has ballooned over the past decade, and experts say 2019 is poised to be another robust year, with potential ripe targets in orthopaedics and mental health and addiction treatment.

Private equity deals in healthcare in the U.S. more than doubled over the past 10 years, according to financial data firm Pitchbook. In 2008 there were 325 deals (including buyers and sellers) and in 2018 that number swelled to 788, a record number of deals representing more than $100 billion in total value.

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Price Of A Brace Brings Soccer Player To His Knees
Kaiser Health News

Last October, Esteban Serrano wrenched his knee badly during his weekly soccer game with friends.

Serrano, a software engineer, grew up playing soccer in Quito, Ecuador, and he has kept up his sport since moving to the United States two decades ago.

He hobbled off the field and iced the knee. But the pain was so severe, he made an appointment with Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, a network of orthopedists practicing in Greater Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.