News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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CMS to allow copay accumulators, cut exchange user fees
Modern Healthcare

The CMS finalized a rule on Thursday that would allow health insurers to implement copay accumulator programs to prevent drug manufacturer coupons from applying to a patient’s annual limit on out-of-pocket costs in situations where a generic drug is available.

Last month, Virginia and West Virginia became the first states to ban such programs on the individual market. Another eight states are considering passing their own laws to ban copay accumulators, which patient advocates say limits access to medication.

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HHS gives four states funds to drastically cut opioid deaths
Modern Healthcare

HHS on Thursday said it will give four states more than $350 million to reduce opioid deaths by 40% over three years.

Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio will participate in a study that could serve as a blueprint for other states on how to curb the opioid epidemic, HHS officials said. The study aims to coordinate efforts to prevent and treat opioid addiction in schools, the criminal justice system and other parts of the community.

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HHS launches program to cut opioid overdoses by 40 percent in three years
Washington Post

The Trump administration announced an ambitious program Thursday to reduce deaths from opioid overdoses by 40 percent over three years in hard-hit communities across several states.

The $353 million effort will test the idea that the best approaches to combat the drug crisis are well known but poorly implemented and coordinated. It will employ a comprehensive strategy in each community that encourages the involvement of doctors, treatment providers, law enforcement, courts, churches and even housing providers — an approach that has worked in a few places.

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A seismic shift: Health care industry braces for new earthquake laws
Sacramento Business Journal

California could see $34 billion to $142 billion in new health care development to keep up with seismic safety laws that go into effect in 2030.

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Liver Illness Strikes Latino Children Like A ‘Silent Tsunami’
Kaiser Health News

Saira Diaz uses her fingers to count the establishments selling fast food and sweets near the South Los Angeles home she shares with her parents and 13-year-old son. “There’s one, two, three, four, five fast-food restaurants,” she says. “And a little mom and pop store that sells snacks and sodas and candy.”

In that low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood, it’s pretty hard for a kid to avoid sugar. Last year, doctors at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, a nonprofit community clinic seven blocks away, became alarmed by the rising weight of Diaz’s son, Adrian Mejia. They persuaded him to join an intervention study run by the University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) that weans participants off sugar in an effort to reduce the rate of obesity and diabetes among children.

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Psych care shortage gets boost from new crisis unit at county hospital
Ventura County Star

In a perfect world, a psychiatric crisis unit opening Tuesday at Ventura County Medical Center would grow from a starting capacity of four patients to 12.

It would, as envisioned by leaders trying to thwart a countywide shortage of hospital psychiatric care, allow the safety-net hospital in Ventura to reclaim a dozen inpatient beds at its Hillmont psychiatric unit.

“That would be a game changer,” said Dr. Jason Cooper, medical director of the VCMC Hillmont center that is one of two psychiatric hospitals in the county along with the private Ventura facility Vista del Mar.

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Data: California’s improved vaccination rates are keeping measles at bay
San Francisco Chronicle

The United States is in the middle of what may end up the largest measles outbreak in two decades.

Dozens of new cases are being reported each week. As of April 11 — date of the most recent data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — 555 cases had been confirmed.

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75% of healthcare experts struggle with implementing blockchain
Becker's Hospital Review

Venrock released its 2019 Healthcare Prognosis report, which included insights on the progress of artificial intelligence and blockchain within the industry.

In 2019, blockchain in healthcare may not exist, Venrock found. The report showed that 75 percent of industry experts are struggling to find blockchain’s role in healthcare. Another 18 percent are finding use cases that benefit patients, and 7 percent are still unclear on what blockchain is.

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Patient-Directed Access for Competition to Bend the Cost Curve
The Health Care Blog

Many of you have received the email: Microsoft HealthVault is shutting down. By some accounts, Microsoft has spent over $1 Billion on a valiant attempt to create a patient-centered health information system. They were not greedy. They adopted standards that I worked on for about a decade. They generously funded non-profit Patient Privacy Rights to create an innovative privacy policy in a green field situation. They invited trusted patient surrogates like the American Heart Association to participate in the launch. They stuck with it for almost a dozen years. They failed.

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Unique collective has ambitious plan to lower healthcare costs
Modern Healthcare

Summit County, Colo., is a picturesque mountain community nestled high in the Colorado Rockies that roughly 30,000 people call home. It’s a charming area well-loved for its extended winters and four ski areas.

Not so charming is the cost of healthcare in the county, where a knee replacement costs 89% more on average than in the Denver metro area about 70 miles east. If a bad spill on a ski hill necessitates a craniotomy, a patient will pay 163% more on average in Summit County compared with the Denver area.

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Editorial: The cost of irresponsible tech transfer
Modern Healthcare

The government and academic medical centers need to rethink their technology transfer policies, which have allowed the price of specialty drugs to soar to unsustainable heights.

The latest targeted therapies for cancer and genetic diseases are coming to market with price tags approaching a half-million dollars per patient. What most have in common are their origins in academic or government labs funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Private equity infuses healthcare with $63B investment
Modern Healthcare

Global private equity-backed healthcare deals rose almost 50% to $63.1 billion 2018, the highest level since 2006, according to a new report.

The provider sector continued to be the most active, with global transaction value surging to $35 billion across 159 deals, compared with $18.9 billion across 139 deals in 2017, Bain & Co.’s 2019 private equity and corporate M&A report found.

Provider deals also led investment domestically, at 84 transactions worth $23.2 billion—the vast majority of the total $29.6 billion of U.S. funding. Behavioral and retail health, physician groups and home care drew strong interest, according to the report.

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Imperial Health Plan enters Sacramento market
Sacramento Business Journal

The health plan is joining the Sacramento market to position it for a larger Northern California expansion.

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How this UCSF-grown startup is shaping hospitals’ best practices
San Francisco Business Times

Hoping to stave off preventable mistakes in hospitals, UCSF doctor Arup Roy-Burman co-founded Elemeno Health along with Electronic Arts veteran Ed Nanale.

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