News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

The Health 202: Bernie Sanders says Medicare-for-all would reduce health spending. But that’s unclear.
The Washington Post

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) insists most Americans would ultimately pay less for their health care if the country transitioned to a Medicare-for-all system.

That’s an argument worth considering. But it’s unlikely to happen under the hugely generous plan suggested by Sanders, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders offered this argument in a widely viewed Fox News town hall on Monday evening, where the hosts quizzed him on how he’d pay for the latest version of his Medicare-for-all plan. The original version of the bill would cost an estimated $32 trillion over a decade, many times more than the Affordable Care Act. And this latest version adds on even more benefits (as The Health 202 detailed here).

News Headlines Article

FDA orders makers of surgical mesh products for pelvic collapse to stop selling immediately
USA Today

The Food and Drug Administration is ordering companies that produce mesh devices for women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse to end the sales of those products immediately.

The companies, “Boston Scientific and Coloplast, have not demonstrated a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness for these devices,” the agency said Tuesday in a statement.

The products are supposed to assist in transvaginal repair as a result of POP, but their ability to stay on the market was put in jeopardy three years ago when the FDA labeled them high-risk. That classification meant the manufacturers had to apply for “premarket approval,” the highest bar to clear to keep selling.

News Headlines Article

FDA orders manufacturers to halt sales of vaginal mesh used in many pelvic procedures
Washington Post

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday ordered manufacturers of surgical mesh used for repairing a condition called pelvic organ prolapse to immediately stop selling their products, the latest turn in a years-long battle over the safety of the implants. The agency said the companies, Boston Scientific and Coloplast, had not demonstrated a “reasonable assurance” of safety and effectiveness for the devices for use over the long term, and will have 10 days to submit plans for withdrawing them from the market.

News Headlines Article

Doctors seek effective approaches to persuade parents to vaccinate
Modern Healthcare

An ongoing series of measles outbreaks that have infected more than 460 people across 19 states since January has renewed concerns about exactly how and where parents are receiving their information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

The recent focus has targeted the spread of misinformation online, prompting lawmakers and medical leaders to call on tech giants Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube to prohibit the dissemination of false claims about vaccines on their platforms.

Whatever role the internet has played in raising concerns about vaccines, evidence seems to indicate parents have declining confidence in vaccines and the government entities that validate their safety.

News Headlines Article

Hospital M&A pace slows in Q1
Modern Healthcare

The number of hospital transactions hit its lowest mark in nearly a decade in the first quarter of 2019, indicating that providers may be taking a more deliberate approach to dealmaking, according to a new white paper.

Fourteen deals were announced in the first quarter, the fewest in any quarter since the fourth quarter of 2009, Ponder & Co. said in a new report. It was the fourth consecutive quarter in which hospital M&A lagged the rolling annual quarterly average. The median target hospital was more than 40% smaller than that of 2018, Ponder’s data shows.

News Headlines Article

Study: Health care industry worst at protecting consumer data, federal government is best
USA Today

The federal government is best at protecting consumer data and the health care sector is the worst, according to a new study by the not-for-profit Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance.

The 10th annual Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll analyzed more than 1,200 consumer-facing websites to determine which industry values security and privacy the most.

Here’s how the seven industries the Online Trust Alliance examined ranked:

News Headlines Article

First U.S. Patients Treated With CRISPR As Human Gene-Editing Trials Get Underway
National Public Radio

The powerful gene-editing technique called CRISPR has been in the news a lot. And not all the news has been good: A Chinese scientist stunned the world last year when he announced he had used CRISPR to create genetically modified babies.

But scientists have long hoped CRISPR — a technology that allows scientists to make very precise modifications to DNA — could eventually help cure many diseases. And now scientists are taking tangible first steps to make that dream a reality.

News Headlines Article

Planned Parenthood’s ‘Risky Strategy’ To Update Its Image
Kaiser Health News

The Trump administration is pushing ahead with its reproductive health agenda. It has rolled out changes to the Title X program, which funds family planning services for low-income people, that are designed to have a chilling effect on organizations that provide abortions or include this option in counseling. It also has nominated federal judges widely believed to support state-level abortion restrictions.

Against that backdrop, Planned Parenthood, known as a staunch defender of abortion rights, is working to recast its public image.

News Headlines Article

U.S. task force finds problems with preemptive lead screenings
Modern Healthcare

A federal task force on Tuesday said it doesn’t have enough evidence to require lead screenings for pregnant women and children if they show no symptoms.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated its recommendations for the tests, changing its 2006 stance that rejected routing screenings in pregnant women who don’t show signs of high lead exposure.

Now it’s up to clinicians to use their “best judgment” on whether the tests are necessary.

News Headlines Article

Workplace wellness programs don’t improve employee health: study
Modern Healthcare

Although more employers are turning to workplace wellness programs to improve workers’ health and save on healthcare costs, a new study shows they aren’t improving health metrics.

Researchers found that workplace wellness participants exercise more, actively manage their weight and have other healthier behaviors than their peers outside of the programs. However, they don’t have lower body mass index, blood pressure or cholesterol, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It’s the first large-scale, randomized clinical trial examining the causal health effects of the employee programs.

News Headlines Article

Gilead teams with startup to turn machine learning on fatty liver disease
San Francisco Business Times

Even before much of the world last year found out about Daphne Koller’s machine-learning-driven drug development company, she was invited to speak to Gilead Sciences Inc. scientists. The ensuing conversations have led Koller’s Insitro to formally work with Gilead to find new targets for drugs to attack one of the hottest areas in drug development.

The companies disclosed the three-year deal Tuesday morning. Insitro will receive $15 million upfront, plus “near-term” milestone payments up to $35 million and as much as $200 million for hitting preclinical, development, regulatory and commercial milestones for each of five Gilead targets in the fatty liver disease known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH.

News Headlines Article

UnitedHealth revenue grows with Medicare members, OptumHealth patients
Modern Healthcare

UnitedHealth Group reported higher revenue and profit in the first quarter of 2019 as it grew Medicare Advantage insurance membership while serving more patients in its care-delivery business, OptumHealth. Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth’s insurance arm—UnitedHealthcare—covered 880,000 more people in the first quarter compared with the same period a year ago, bringing total membership to 49.7 million, up 1.8% year over year.

News Headlines Article

Humana launches oncology payment model
Modern Healthcare

Humana launched a new payment model for Medicare Advantage and commercial members receiving treatment for cancer, the Louisville, Ky.-based insurer announced Tuesday. The program, called the Oncology Model of Care, will offer additional payment to participating cancer practices for improved performance on certain metrics over a one-year period. There are currently 16 practices participating in the model, which started in January.

News Headlines Article

SF General sees light after public pressure, revises system that produced big bills
San Francisco Chronicle

San Franciscans, rest easy. If you’re hit by a car, shot, fall off a roof or suffer any other major injury, you can now receive top-notch medical care at the city’s only trauma center without risking bankruptcy.

After months of intense media coverage of its unfair billing system, San Francisco General Hospital officials on Tuesday announced major changes aimed at protecting patients’ financial health as well as their physical well-being.

Patients will no longer be “balance billed” for the difference between what the hospital charges and what their insurance companies will pay. That system resulted in huge bills for hundreds of privately insured patients each year.

Commands