News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Judge strikes down association health plan rule as ACA runaround
Modern Healthcare

A federal judge on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s attempts to expand access to association health plan rules.

U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington said the administration’s final rule allowing associations and employers to band together to create AHPs goes beyond its authority under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

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House panel debates Creates Act, ‘pay-for-delay’
Modern Healthcare

A U.S. House of Representatives health panel on Wednesday became the first in this Congress to work on prescription drug legislation, including the Creates Act and a ban on “pay for delay” deals, as lawmakers eye a forthcoming bicameral package to lower pharmaceutical prices.

The packet of bills from the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee takes oblique aim at brand drugs’ patent and exclusivity privileges to push more generic competition, and represents a gentle first step in the growing congressional momentum to scrutinize the entire drug patent system.

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U.S. judge strikes down rule allowing ‘skimpy’ health insurance plans
Washington Post

A federal judge Thursday struck down a Trump administration rule aimed at enabling millions of Americans to buy skimpy health insurance plans that do not comply with key Affordable Care Act requirements — part of administration efforts to chip away at the health-care law.

Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found the rule “is clearly an end-run around the ACA,” commonly called Obamacare, the signature domestic achievement of President Barack Obama.

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All for One, One For All
The Health Care Blog

Within the ever-widening array of Democratic contenders for the Presidency, the “Medicare-for-all” debate continues to simmer. It was only six weeks ago that Kamala Harris’s vocal support drew fire from not one, but two billionaire political rivals. Michael Bloomberg, looking for support in New Hampshire declared, “I think we could never afford that. We are talking about trillions of dollars… [that] would bankrupt us for a long time.” Fellow billionaire candidate Howard Schultz added, “That’s not correct. That’s not American.”

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Surprise medical bills burden 1 in 7 patients
Modern Healthcare

About 1 in 7 patients received a surprise bill despite obtaining care at an in-network hospital, according to new data that fuels the momentum behind potential fixes to the fragmented billing process.

The share of in-network hospital admissions with at least one out-of-network claim ranged from 1.7% in Minnesota to 26.3% in Florida, according to the Health Care Cost Institute’s analysis of nearly 620,000 in-network inpatient admissions and associated claims across 37 states and the District of Columbia in 2016.

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Doughnut Hole Is Gone, But Medicare’s Uncapped Drug Costs Still Bite Into Budgets
Kaiser Health News

Three times a week, Tod Gervich injects himself with Copaxone, a prescription drug that can reduce the frequency of relapses in people who have some forms of multiple sclerosis. After more than 20 years with the disease, Gervich, 66, is accustomed to managing his condition. What he can’t get used to is how Medicare’s coinsurance charges drain his wallet.

Unlike commercial plans that cap members’ out-of-pocket drug spending annually, Medicare has no limit for prescription medications in Part D, its drug benefit. With the cost of specialty drugs increasing, some Medicare beneficiaries could owe thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket drug costs every year for a single drug.

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AHA pushes back on proposed changes to CMS’ hospital star ratings
Modern Healthcare

The American Hospital Association supports only three of the 14 potential changes the CMS is considering for the hospital star ratings.

In response to a CMS request last month for public feedback on possible changes to the controversial star ratings program, the AHA said in a letter to the agency Wednesday that it approves of three proposed changes: replacing the current methodology, separating hospitals by peer groups and establishing a new criteria to group quality measures.

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Senate bill on health homes for kids put on hold again
Modern Healthcare

A bill to help states fund integrated health homes for chronically ill children stalled in the Senate due to a lawmaker’s opposition, despite pressure to pass it this week along with other Medicaid provisions.

The Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act, championed by Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday as part of broader legislation that incorporated another Grassley-sponsored measure to require more transparency in Medicaid drug rebates.

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California hospitals may have to spend billions to comply with earthquake safety rules
Becker's Hospital Review

California hospitals face a potential cost totaling tens of billions of dollars to comply with state seismic safety standards by 2030, according to a new Rand Corp. report.

The 1994 Northridge earthquake led to California adopting Senate Bill 1953, which, according to the report, requires hospitals to upgrade buildings by 2030 to reduce their risk of collapse during earthquakes.

Researchers at the nonprofit think tank assessed the costs of upgrading or rebuilding noncompliant buildings for 418 California general acute care hospitals. They also examined the affordability of compliance based on recent hospital financial data. 

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FDA proposes first changes to mammography standards in 20 years
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed an update to mammography standards that would require providers to report breast density information to women after undergoing screening. Experts say that could more frequently detect breast cancer in its earlier stages.

The agency on Wednesday issued its first proposed change in 20 years to regulations governing mammography facilities. Providers would need to explain to patients how breast density can affect the accuracy of a mammogram. Dense breasts are considered at higher risk of developing breast cancer and can make it more difficult to detect the disease through a mammogram.

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First living HIV-positive donor provides kidney for transplant in medical breakthrough
Washington Post

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital have transplanted a kidney from a living HIV-positive donor to an HIV-positive recipient, a medical breakthrough they hope will expand the pool of available organs and help change perceptions of HIV.

The donor, 35-year-old Nina Martinez, and the recipient, who chose to remain anonymous, are recovering in the hospital after Monday’s surgery, doctors said. The recipient no longer needs kidney dialysis for the first time in a year.

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Drug giant cutting 178 jobs, three years after buying Peninsula biotech for $6 billion
San Francisco Chronicle

Big cancer-fighting plans have turned into big layoffs at a once-promising biotech unicorn bought in a $6 billion deal just three years ago.

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South Bay health clinics’ sale goes through but staffing must be resolved by Monday
Silicon Valley Business Journal

A federal bankruptcy court has paved the way for five San Jose-area medical clinics sold in bankruptcy to reopen Monday under new ownership. But how they will be staffed is an open question.

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