News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Trump punts on health care until after the 2020 election

President Donald Trump on Monday night backed away from his push for a vote on an Obamacare replacent until after the 2020 elections, bowing to the political reality that major health care legislation cannot pass in the current Congress.

Trump’s statements come a week after his administration announced that it now agreed with a judge’s ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be scrapped. The opinion was a dramatic reversal from the administration’s previous stance that only portions of the act could not be defended.

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Trump punts vote on health-care bill until after next year’s elections
Washington Post

President Trump signaled Monday night that he will not press for a vote on a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act until after next year’s elections, apparently heeding warnings from fellow Republicans about the perils of such a fight during campaign season.

In a series of late-night tweets, Trump continued to bash President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law but said a vote on a replacement would not occur until after the elections — suggesting that he believes he would still be in the White House and that Republicans would control both chambers of Congress at that point.

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Hospital Associations Urge Appeals Court To Reverse ACA Ruling
HealthLeaders Media

National and state hospitals groups warn that invalidating the Affordable Care Act would have ‘disastrous’ consequences for tens of millions of Americans and the nation’s healthcare infrastructure.

The nation’s largest hospital associations and 24 state hospital associations on Monday filed amicus briefs urging a federal appeals court to reject a Texas court’s “judicial repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.

“If upheld, it will unwind eight years of progress under the ACA’s broad set of reforms,” read the joint amicus brief submitted by the American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, America’s Essential Hospitals, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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Obamacare, Trump and a lawsuit: How industry is reacting
Modern Healthcare

The Trump administration’s decision to support eliminating the entire Affordable Care Act has riled lawmakers and industry alike as they navigate the line between politics and the potential practical impact of the lawsuit.

The Justice Department’s politically volatile move last week to agree with a Texas judge’s ruling against the law sparked a political firestorm not likely to end soon in the ramp-up to 2020 elections. It has already inspired calls for a GOP replacement plan.

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Obamacare is under threat, lives are at stake: Today’s talkers
USA Today

At a time when one in four Americans are forgoing needed health care because they simply can’t afford to see their doctor or buy their prescription drugs, the Trump administration is making the situation worse.

It is waging war on some of our country’s most vulnerable people — children, the terminally ill, people with disabilities and the elderly — by urging the complete judicial repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Such an action would leave millions of families without health care coverage, their health care costs would increase exponentially, and our nation would erase hard-won protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

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Sanders sharpens the choice Democrats face on health care

Congressional Democrats are locking arms to protect the Affordable Care Act — the party’s signature achievement during Barack Obama’s presidency — as President Donald Trump renews his efforts to repeal it.

With one prominent exception.

In media interviews last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders — among the front-runners for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination – pointedly refused to endorse legislation that House Democrats had introduced to expand the ACA and to block Trump administration initiatives designed to weaken some of its core consumer protections.  Instead, Sanders underscored his support for replacing the ACA with “Medicare for All” legislation, in which government would become the “single payer” for virtually all health care services.

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Americans Borrowed $88 Billion to Pay for Health Care Last Year, Survey Finds
New York Times

Americans borrowed an estimated $88 billion over the last year to pay for health care, according to a survey released on Tuesday by Gallup and the nonprofit West Health.

The survey also found that one in four Americans have skipped treatment because of the cost, and that nearly half fear bankruptcy in the event of a health emergency.

There was a partisan divide when respondents were asked whether they believed that the American health care system is among the best in the world: Among Republicans, 67 percent of respondents said they believed so; that number was 38 percent among Democrats.

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CMS, states face difficult choices on Medicaid expansion, work requirements
Modern Healthcare

The Trump administration and many states face a complex set of policy decisions in the wake of a federal judge’s decision vacating Medicaid work requirement waivers in Kentucky and Arkansas.

In his paired rulings last week, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., struck at a centerpiece of the administration’s health policy when he ruled that HHS Secretary Alex Azar exceeded his discretionary authority in approving waivers that could lead to tens of thousands of people losing Medicaid coverage. The secretary did not adequately consider the coverage impact, given that the objective of the Medicaid Act is to provide coverage, he wrote.

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CMS finalizes Medicare Advantage pay raise, ups encounter data use
Modern Healthcare

Medicare Advantage plans are getting a pay raise and more flexibility to tailor benefits for chronically ill patients next year, the CMS said Monday. But Advantage plans’ payments will also be based on a higher percentage of patient “encounter data,” a change that health insurers have fought hard to avoid.

The CMS on Monday finalized a rule giving Medicare Advantage plans a 2.53% pay raise in 2020. The agency had initially floated giving plans a 1.59% pay bump for next year. The final rate is less than the 3.4% raise Advantage plans received for 2019, which was one of the biggest pay raises plans have received in years.

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Trim Expensive ECG Overuse With EHR Order Sets
HealthLeaders Media

Inappropriate electrocardiographic monitoring results in wasteful spending and decreased quality of care.

Following practice standards through an electronic order set boosts the appropriate use of electrocardiographic monitoring without increasing adverse events, recent research shows.

Earlier research demonstrated that inappropriate use of cardiac telemetry results in significant wasteful spending. Over monitoring has also been associated with quality and safety concerns such as clinician alarm fatigue.

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U.S. measles cases surge to second-highest level in nearly two decades
The Washington Post

The number of people sickened by measles in the first three months of this year is more than for all of 2018 — and the second-highest number reported since U.S. health officials declared the highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease “eliminated” in 2000.

The upsurge, now at 387 cases, reflects outbreaks that have spread to 15 states, including New York, California, Texas and Washington, according to figures released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That surpasses the 372 reported for all of last year. Many of those outbreaks originated after unvaccinated individuals traveled to Europe, the Philippines and Israel, where the infection is more common, and returned to the United States after contracting the illness.

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San Diego Doctors On High Alert For Measles

A growing number of measles outbreaks across the U.S., including in California, has San Diego County health officials on high alert.

“It just takes one person to bring the measles back to our community and then we have to deal with potential spread here,” said Mark Sawyer, M.D., infectious disease specialist with Rady Children’s Hospital and UC San Diego.

Measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases. According to the World Health Organization, a single cough or sneeze from an infected person can spread the virus to everyone around them who is not vaccinated or who has never had the measles. The virus can remain active in the air for as long as two hours.

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Hospitals Look To Nursing Homes To Help Stop Drug-Resistant Infections
National Public Radio

Hospitals and nursing homes in California and Illinois are testing a surprisingly simple strategy to stop the dangerous, antibiotic-resistant superbugs that kill thousands of people each year: washing patients with a special soap.

The efforts — funded with roughly $8 million from the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are taking place at 50 facilities in those two states.

This novel collaboration recognizes that superbugs don’t remain isolated in one hospital or nursing home but move quickly through a community, said Dr. John Jernigan, who directs the CDC’s office on health care-acquired infection research.

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Elite Hospitals Plunge Into Unproven Stem Cell Treatments
Kaiser Health News

The online video seems to promise everything an arthritis patient could want.

The six-minute segment mimics a morning talk show, using a polished TV host to interview guests around a coffee table. Dr. Adam Pourcho extols the benefits of stem cells and “regenerative medicine” for healing joints without surgery. Pourcho, a sports medicine specialist, says he has used platelet injections to treat his own knee pain, as well as a tendon injury in his elbow. Extending his arm, he says, “It’s completely healed.”

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Where the physician wage gap is narrowing
Sacramento Business Journal

The wage gap between male and female physicians is shrinking, a new study finds, a sign of progress in an era when the majority of students entering medical school are women. 

The Doximity research showed that pay parity among male and female physicians dropped below a six-figure salary gap in 2018, with compensation for women growing by two percent. 

Overall, wages were flat, with less than a one percent decrease in physician compensation between 2017 and 2018. 

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Investment State-of-Play in Big Pharma: Bayer’s Eugene Borukhovich Weighs In
The Health Care Blog

Bayer’s G4A team launched their 2019 program today, so here’s a little help for anyone curious about the state of pharma startup investment and what it takes to land a deal there these days.

I had the chance to pick the brain of Bayer’s Global Head of Digital Health, Eugene Borukhovich, during JP Morgan Healthcare Week and pulled out these three gloriously thought-provoking soundbites from our conversation to give you some insight as to the mindset over at big Bayer.