News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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The Health 202: Democrats demand the Trump administration explain why it won’t defend Obamacare
Washington Post

The relationship between the executive branch and Congress could hardly get more acrimonious, as House Democrats push forward on a flurry of investigations into the Trump administration. Add Obamacare to the list of tensions, with Democrats in hot pursuit of answers from the administration on why it refuses to defend any part of the health-care law in court.

Today, the chairmen of five House committees are re-upping demands that the Justice Department and the White House hand over eight categories of documents shedding light on how they arrived at the decision to abandon all defense of the 2010 health-care law in a challenge brought by GOP-led states. The committees, which first requested the information last month, hinted at issuing a subpoena if the administration doesn’t turn it over promptly.

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Does ‘Medicare for All’ end private insurance? Depends which candidate you ask.
CNBC

“Medicare for All”? Or Medicare for all who want it?

Democrats running for president will need to decide which one they’re supporting or risk ending up in the muddled situation Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., found herself in last weekend.

Harris made a decision early in the race to run on single-payer Medicare for All, specifically a bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that would effectively replace existing private health insurance plans with a souped-up version of Medicare that covers more than the current program and requires no premiums or deductibles.

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HHS info-blocking task force to revisit data-sharing fees next week
Modern Healthcare

The federal Health Information Technology Advisory Committee tackled a spate of adjustments to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s proposed interoperability rule during a meeting Monday, but postponed a vote on a task force’s recommendations related to fees.

HITAC, established under the 21st Century Cures Act, meets monthly to provide policy recommendations to the ONC. The primary topic in discussion at the May meeting concerned information-blocking, with HITAC’s information-blocking task force presenting roughly 50 recommendations.

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States bring price-fixing suit against generic drug makers
Modern Healthcare

Attorneys general from more than 40 states are alleging the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate prices for more than 100 different generic drugs, including treatments for diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other medical conditions.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Connecticut on Friday, also names 15 individual senior executives responsible for sales, marketing and pricing.

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States Sue Drugmakers Over Alleged Generic-Price-Fixing Scheme
National Public Radio

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has a skin condition called rosacea, and he says he takes the antibiotic doxycycline once a day for it.

In 2013, the average market price of doxycycline rose from $20 to $1,829 a year later. That’s an increase of over 8,000%.

Tong alleges in a new lawsuit that this kind of price jump is part of an industrywide conspiracy to fix prices.

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Using Technology to Close Care Gaps, Improve Care Quality and Cost
HealthPayer Intelligence

Research has shown that care gaps can be both harmful and costly when not properly managed. For example, not managing certain chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes) can lead to serious complications and escalating treatment costs. Resolving gaps in care is important to payers, providers, and the patients they serve.

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Healthcare data breaches reach record high in April
Modern Healthcare

Providers, health plans and their business associates reported 44 data breaches to the federal government last month.

That’s the highest number of healthcare breaches reported in a single month since HHS‘ Office for Civil Rights began maintaining its online database of healthcare breaches in 2010, surpassing the previous record—exactly one year ago, April 2018—when healthcare groups reported 42 breaches to the agency.

In spite of the record number of incidents reported last month, April experienced a downtick in the number of people who had data exposed. Healthcare breaches reported in April compromised data from 686,953 people, down 29% from the 963,794 people affected by breaches reported in March. Two breaches reported in April each exposed data on more than 100,000 people.

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How Public Health Outreach Ended A 1990s Measles Outbreak And What’s Different Now
National Public Radio

This year’s measles outbreak is the largest since the 1990s. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that 75 more measles cases were confirmed last week in 23 states, bringing the U.S. total to 839 so far this year.

The outbreak from 1989 through 1991 was much larger than today’s, with more than 27,000 cases in 1990 alone. But the conditions that lead to that outbreak and what it took to end it are dramatically different from the ones the U.S. is seeing today.

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Nonprofit hospitals ‘well-positioned to compete’ amid healthcare disruption, S&P says
Becker's Hospital Review

Nonprofit hospitals and health systems have been able to adapt to the evolving healthcare landscape over the years due to effective management, S&P Global Ratings said in a report published May 13.

S&P said healthcare has transformed over the last 20 years and continues to change quickly.

Although the transformation is partly due to legislative and regulatory changes at the state and national levels, technological disruption and other factors are also contributing to significant, according to the report.

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DOJ sides with insurer Oscar in antitrust suit
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Department of Justice is backing health insurer Oscar in the federal antitrust suit that the startup filed against Florida Blue, that state’s dominant Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan.

Oscar filed the lawsuit in November, after it began selling health plans in the Orlando area. It said Florida Blue’s exclusivity policies prohibiting insurance brokers from selling other insurers’ plans had thwarted its business.

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Dealing With Hospital Closure, Pioneer Kansas Town Asks: What Comes Next?
Kaiser Health News

A slight drizzle had begun in the gray December sky outside Community Christian Church as Reta Baker, president of the local hospital, stepped through the doors to join a weekly morning coffee organized by Fort Scott’s chamber of commerce.

The town manager was there, along with the franchisee of the local McDonald’s, an insurance agency owner and the receptionist from the big auto sales lot. Baker, who grew up on a farm south of town, knew them all.

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Medical center’s traumas illustrate struggle of all Medicaid-dependent hospitals
Modern Healthcare

At Community First Medical Center on the Northwest Side the other day, an intercom repeated, “Code diversion, cath lab.” Dr. David Fishman, a cardiologist, paused and said, “That’s a bad sign.”

The hospital’s cardiac imaging equipment was down again, meaning ambulances with heart patients would have to divert to another hospital. At best, that would be nearly 5 miles away.

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Planned psych hospital to be built in Chula Vista draws community opposition
San Diego Union-Tribune

Plans to build a 120-bed psychiatric hospital in Chula Vista face significant community opposition.

Citing its proximity to homes, schools and businesses, a 2,234-signature petition demands that the proposed single-story facility be relocated.

Scripps Health announced in mid-February that it intends to partner with Acadia Healthcare Co. Inc. to open the hospital on a vacant 10-acre parcel in the city’s Eastlake neighborhood. Anticipated to open in 2023, the project would replace a 36-bed behavioral health unit at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest, which will be torn down to make way for more than $1 billion of planned redevelopment on the cramped site.

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