News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Trump attorney general on ACA lawsuit: ‘Let the courts do their job’
CNN.com

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday doubled down on the Trump administration’s decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act, telling House lawmakers “let the courts do their job.”

Barr was grilled about using the Justice Department’s resources to take a stance that, if successful, would leave uninsured tens of millions of Americans who depend on the Obamacare exchanges and Medicaid expansion for their coverage. “If you think it’s such an outrageous position, you have nothing to worry about.

News Headlines Article

Health care is shockingly expensive. Why can’t you deduct it all on your taxes?
Washington Post

In late March, my right elbow suddenly ballooned up, becoming red, painful and hot to the touch. But what I assumed was tennis elbow proved to be cellulitis, a serious infection that required an IV of an expensive antibiotic dispensed during six hours in a Manhattan emergency room. The hospital billed my insurance company more than $10,000 per hour, or $65,892.04 to be exact. I wasn’t even admitted for the night.

Fortunately, my insurer will significantly reduce my share of the charges but the ultimate out-of-pocket cost will still sting long after my elbow no longer does.

News Headlines Article

The Health 202: Bernie Sanders is about to roll out an even more expansive Medicare-for-all bill
Washington Post

Bernie Sanders – the senator who first coined the term “Medicare-for-all” – will unveil an updated, expanded version of his bill this morning. And it’s one that would dramatically overhaul the U.S. health-care system and promise an even more generous array of benefits to Americans.

Sanders’s new Medicare-for-all bill will propose to cover long-term care — a steeply expensive health benefit that shows progressives’ increasing willingness to lay out their pie-in-the-sky dreams, even if they are unrealistic.

That goes far beyond what Sanders proposed when he first introduced Medicare-for-all in September 2017 — and is much like a House version introduced in February by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

News Headlines Article

Nancy Pelosi calls for DSH cut delay, but no changes to formula
Modern Healthcare

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told hospital leaders on Tuesday that she supports delaying $4 billion in cuts to disproportionate-share hospitals but stopped short of endorsing GOP efforts to change the DSH formula. At the American Hospital Association’s annual meeting, the California Democrat said that changing the DSH formula would harm Medicaid expansion states.

News Headlines Article

Feds break up $1.2B Medicare orthopedic brace scam
Modern Healthcare

Federal authorities said Tuesday they’ve broken up a $1.2 billion Medicare scam that peddled unneeded orthopedic braces to hundreds of thousands of seniors via foreign call centers.

The Justice Department announced charges against 24 people across the U.S., including doctors accused of writing bogus prescriptions for unneeded back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces. Others charged included owners of call centers, telemedicine firms and medical equipment companies.

News Headlines Article

CMS proposes expanding coverage for blood pressure test
Modern Healthcare

The CMS on Tuesday proposed expanding Medicare coverage for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, a diagnostic test that tracks a patient’s blood pressure over a period of days rather than at a moment in time.

The agency said the test may measure blood pressure and diagnose hypertension more accurately. The current national coverage determination for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, issued in 2001, covers the test only for Medicare patients who are not being treated for high blood pressure but are suspected to have “white coat hypertension,” meaning their anxiety causes their blood pressure to spike while at the doctor’s office.

News Headlines Article

Senate panel favors lighter touch for PBM regulation
Modern Healthcare

A Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday signaled a softer take than the Trump administration when it comes to regulating pharmacy benefit managers and their role in the drug supply chain.

Lawmakers questioning executives of five major PBMs showed waning enthusiasm for HHS’ proposed ban on PBM rebates within Medicare Part D.

Senators focused their criticisms on the system’s opaqueness and urged more transparency, steering clear of proposals to expand the Trump administration’s proposed rule to the commercial sector.

News Headlines Article

Nurse practitioners win first round against doctors with bill to expand patient care
Los Angeles Times

Nurse practitioners, who undergo more training than registered nurses, have been lobbying the Legislature for years to care for patients on their own without a physician’s approval. They’ve argued this change in state law would ensure the state’s aging population has access to medical care.

The California Medical Assn., the powerful lobbying arm for the state’s doctors, has so far blocked those efforts. But this year could be different, with a key lawmaker, Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), switching sides.

News Headlines Article

Culture of Secrecy Shields Hospitals With Outbreaks of Drug-Resistant Infections
New York Times

In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent out an urgent public alert about a deadly bacteria, resistant to virtually every known antibiotic, that sickened more than a dozen Americans who had elective surgery at Grand View Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico.

But when similar outbreaks take place at hospitals on American soil, the C.D.C. makes no such public announcement. That is because under its agreement with states, the C.D.C. is barred from publicly identifying hospitals that are battling to contain the spread of dangerous pathogens.

News Headlines Article

For hospital patients, bedside tablets and apps are providing some control over care
The Washington Post

Shannon Olson got more sleep than she expected during her daughter Emilia’s hospital stay in January. Emilia, 2½ , was hospitalized for 10 days at the Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, Pa., to treat an infected cyst on her face. Olson slept in Emilia’s room and had planned to wait up for the nurses’ last rounds. Instead, she went to sleep before the late rounds, and each morning logged into an app on the tablet Geisinger offers each patient.

The app provided access to Emilia’s hospital chart. “It made it so much easier knowing that all of Emilia’s updated chart information was available to me on the tablet,” Olson said.

News Headlines Article

PrEP use linked with increased STD risk, study shows
Modern Healthcare

Pre-exposure prophylaxis use to protect against HIV infection was associated with higher infection rates of other sexually transmitted diseases, according to a new study.

An analysis in Australia found more than 2,900 sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed in nearly half of the study’s participants from when they started using PrEP. Nearly 3,000 gay and bisexual men were given access to the medication. The study found infections per participant ranged from zero to 12.

News Headlines Article

Tracking your pregnancy on an app may be more public than you think
Washington Post

Like millions of women, Diana Diller was a devoted user of the pregnancy-tracking app Ovia, logging in every night to record new details on a screen asking about her bodily functions, sex drive, medications and mood. When she gave birth last spring, she used the app to chart her baby’s first online medical data — including her name, her location and whether there had been any complications — before leaving the hospital’s recovery room.

But someone else was regularly checking in, too: her employer, which paid to gain access to the intimate details of its workers’ personal lives, from their trying-to-conceive months to early motherhood. Diller’s bosses could look up aggregate data on how many workers using Ovia’s fertility, pregnancy and parenting apps had faced high-risk pregnancies or gave birth prematurely; the top medical questions they had researched; and how soon the new moms planned to return to work.

News Headlines Article

How does measles spread and other frequently asked questions about measles
Washington Post

The United States is experiencing its second-highest number of measles cases in nearly two decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the diagnosed cases have climbed to 465. At least 19 states have reported cases of the highly contagious virus. The outbreaks are linked to people who traveled from countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, where large measles outbreaks are occurring. The disease is spreading in U.S. communities that have relatively high numbers of people who have not been vaccinated against measles. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about measles, which can cause serious complications among all age groups, especially young children.

News Headlines Article

Measles health alert: Infected person may have exposed others at some San Francisco locations
San Francisco Chronicle

A person with measles may have exposed others to the infection at several locations around San Francisco — including Muni and Caltrain — over a three-day period last week, public health officials said Tuesday.

The risk to most individuals of contracting measles from this person is low, authorities said, since San Francisco has high rates of vaccination against the illness. But anyone who has not been vaccinated, or does not know his or her vaccination status, could be vulnerable.

News Headlines Article

Urgent need for new revenue streams will shape providers’ strategies
Modern Healthcare

Building alternative revenue sources will play a bigger role in healthcare providers’ strategies, according to a new study.

Ninety percent of hospital and health system executives surveyed indicated that new revenue streams were an urgent priority expected to yield a return in the next three years, a new study from Boston-based Partners HealthCare and healthcare private equity firm Fitzroy Health found. Every participant acknowledged the need to diversify revenue.

News Headlines Article

The Uninsured: Two Women Entrepreneurs See A Market Opportunity For Healthcare
Forbes

Dancers and entrepreneurs have a lot in common: They know how to pivot.

The word “pivot” was applied to entrepreneurship by Eric Ries, entrepreneur, author, and pioneer of the lean startup movement, a business strategy that advises startups to allocate their resources as efficiently as possible. “Through pivots,” says Ries in Inc., “we can build companies where the failure of the initial idea isn’t the failure of the company.” A pivot can change any of nine aspects of a company’s business model: product, customer segment, distribution channel, revenue model/pricing, resources, activities, costs, partners and customer acquisition.

News Headlines Article

Amazon is moving into health care, its next big market
CNBC

Amazon has been described has the “everything store, ” but it’s missing one major category. And that’s our prescription medicines.

But that might soon change, in the wake of Amazon’s roughly $1 billion acquisition of PillPack, an internet pharmacy.

Health experts told CNBC that it’s only a mater of time before Amazon starts selling prescription drugs on its online marketplace, and that it’s assembling a team to do just that. For Amazon, pharmacy represents a multibillion market opportunity, but it’s also highly complicated and will involve battling with some entrenched competition that has a vested interest in keeping drug prices high. 

But Amazon, with its scale, leverage, and supply chain expertise, could be the company to do it, the experts said. 

News Headlines Article

Why Blue Shield is investing in digital health startups
San Francisco Business Times

Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich’s experience as an entrepreneur laid the groundwork for how the health plan provider now operates.

News Headlines Article

UC Davis, Adventist Health to open a replacement cancer center in Chico
Sacramento Business Journal

UC Davis Health and Roseville-based Adventist Health will co-manage a new cancer center in Chico that will replace a cancer center that was destroyed by the Camp Fire.

Adventist Health’s Feather River Cancer Center was among the 18,700 structures that were destroyed in last November’s blaze. The new center is set to debut Tuesday morning in a leased building on Declaration Drive in Chico.

Approximately 120 cancer patients have been traveling about 45 miles from Chico for chemotherapy treatments at Adventist Health’s Rideout Cancer Center in Marysville, according to UC Davis Health.

Commands