News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Basic Emergency Department Meds in Short Supply
HealthLeaders Media

Like lots of emergency physicians, Carol A. Cunningham, MD, is used to occasional medical supply shortages and knows how to adapt. Finding workarounds and making modifications in the moment is simply a part of her job.

But her patience was sorely tried last winter when supplies of saline solution ran short.

Cunningham, who is state medical director for the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s division of emergency medical services and emergency physician at Akron General Medical Center, says, “It became really scary when we didn’t have saline. I felt like we were practicing medicine in a third-world country. There was just no way of giving fluid resuscitation or treating dehydration intravenously.”

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Hospitals rake in $1.3 billion from Medicare appeals settlements
Modern Healthcare

It appears the federal government has made hospitals an offer too good to refuse.

The CMS paid out $1.3 billion to more than 1,900 hospitals, as of June 1, as part of its deal to clear out the Medicare payment-appeals process. It’s a staggeringly high amount, indicating that most hospitals preferred quick, discounted Medicare reimbursements over remaining tied up with claims denials. But the fight over Medicare appeals has only intensified because broader reforms are still in a state of limbo.

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Obamacare Set To Spike? Um…
The Acorn

So it’s all over the news space and the shrieking blogosphere, with headlines like, “Obamacare Rates To Spike Up To 51%,” “Obamacare Hell…” and “Obamacare Inflationary Deluge…”

And online friends are commenting about “Obamacare premiums set to rise next year as much as 51% in some states…”

Hey, hey, hey. No need to panic. “Set to rise.” Stated as an actual set-in-stone future.

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Abrupt CMS decision sets dangerous policymaking precedent for healthcare coverage
The Hill

Imagine being told you have a condition with a higher mortality rate than many cancers, something that leads to amputation, impacts your quality of life, impairs your mobility, and negatively affects your family and caregivers. Now, imagine that a safe and effective therapy which has been used for years is no longer covered by Medicare. This is precisely what’s happening with medical-grade honey dressings and patients with chronic wounds.

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Health subsidies ruling could have big impact
San Diego Union-Tribune

If the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare subsidies this month, Californians will not be among the 6.4 million Americans whose monthly premiums would quickly rise to unaffordable levels.

However, experts say Golden State enrollees could eventually be caught in the congressional crossfire that such a decision would unleash.

The court is expected to rule by the end of the month on the legality of subsidies in 34 states where the federal government operates health insurance exchanges, from Alabama to Wyoming. Depending on how justices interpret four words of the Affordable Care Act, average monthly premiums in those states could increase 287 percent, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy nonprofit.

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Traversing the Meaningful Use Minefield
HealthLeaders Media

The federal meaningful use program remains a minefield that providers are carefully stepping through to avoid losing out on incentives or being hit with the ever-increasing Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services penalties for failing to file timely attestations of use.

In a statement in mid-February, the American Medical Association said it remained “alarmed” that three-quarters of eligible professionals still have been unable to attest to meaningful use.

“The program’s one-size-fits-all approach—that has not been proven to improve quality—has made it difficult for physicians to take part,” stated Steven J. Stack, MD, AMA president-elect. “In order to successfully attest, physicians must spend tens of thousands of dollars for tech support, software upgrades, interfaces, and data exchange, often on a recurring basis.”

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Telemedicine is Unstoppable
HealthLeaders Media

Spawned by the Internet and fueled by consumer interest in self-monitoring and videocasting, telemedicine—a broad term that covers a range of services including virtual visits and remote monitoring—is growing, despite some stubborn obstacles.

In Austin, MN, employees of the local school system can step into a booth at work, shut the door, and consult a doctor via video. Inside, the booth, they can put on blood pressure cuffs and instantaneously send the results to the Mayo Clinic, 40 miles away.

In Ohio, Cleveland Clinic is offering $49 virtual visits to patients who have an Internet connection and a video-enabled device. And University of Iowa Health Care just launched a telemedicine program last month.

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Prescription Drug Price Battles Show No Sign Of Letting Up
Kaiser Health News

The decision last week by experts at the Food and Drug Administration to endorse a pair of medicines aimed at combating heart disease brought on the latest round of hand-wringing over prescription drug costs.

The drugs, which work to reduce cholesterol, are projected to cost anywhere from $7,000 to $12,000 annually once on the market. Patients will bear some of that cost, but the bulk will be paid by private insurance companies or the government through Medicare and Medicaid.

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From the People Who Brought You ACOs: A New Model For Healthcare Transformation
The Health Care Blog

When my co-founder Mat Kendall and I launched Aledade last June, I wrote that our mission was simple: empowering doctors on the front lines of medicine to put them back in control of health care—and rewarding them for the unique value they create. Today, a few days shy of our first birthday, we are announcing that we have raised $30 million in a funding round led by ARCH Venture Partners, and including our Series A funding partners at Venrock.  This investment is a testament to the growing demand for our technology-enabled services, and to the rapid progress we have made in creating a platform for doctors to manage the new value-based healthcare economy. But most importantly, it’s a commitment to long-term thinking.

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For Doctors Who Take A Break From Practice, Coming Back Can Be Tough
Physicians News Digest

After taking a 10-year break from practicing medicine to raise four sons, Kate Gibson was ready to go back to work.

The family practitioner had been reading about a shortage of primary care doctors and knew she could help. But when Gibson, 51, applied to work at her former hospital near Los Angeles, she was turned away. She’d been out of clinical practice too long.

“I really thought it was not going to be that hard,” she said.

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Study of returns to the ER suggests lack of follow-up care
Modern Healthcare

No one wants to make a repeat visit to the emergency room for the same complaint, but new research suggests it’s more common than previously thought and surprisingly, people frequently wind up at a different ER the second time around.

Already some ERs are taking steps to find out why and try to prevent unnecessary returns. A Philadelphia hospital, for example, is beginning to test video calls and other steps to link discharged patients to primary care.

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Should hospitals face more scrutiny before offering new surgeries?
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals wanting to delve into new areas of surgical specialty should face tougher scrutiny before being allowed to launch a new program, some health quality and policy leaders say. As the U.S. healthcare landscape advances toward rewarding quality rather than quantity, just buying a new high-tech surgical tool or hiring skilled surgeons may not be enough to support offering the new service. Facilities should more frequently be asked to prove not only the ability to achieve good clinical outcomes, but that there is a community demand for the service in the first place, they say.

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Is The Uninsured Rate The Lowest Ever?
Kaiser Health News

Almost no one disputes that the implementation of the federal health law has helped Americans who were previously uninsured gain coverage. But exactly how much has the uninsured rate dropped?

A whole lot, says President Barack Obama.

“Nearly one in three uninsured Americans have already been covered — more than 16 million people -– driving our uninsured rate to its lowest level ever,” he told a cheering crowd at the Catholic Health Association’s annual conference earlier this week.

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Do we need another medical school?
Sacramento Business Journal

California needs more doctors and a new medical school in Elk Grove will help address that need, local health-care leaders say. This need — and opportunity — created a buzz when California Northstate University College of Medicine announced Thursday it got the key accreditation it needed to launch classes in September.

While reaction to the for-profit status of the new school is mixed, everybody who weighed in on the news applauded the plan churn out more doctors. California Northstate is now accepting applications and hopes to enroll up to 60 students in the next two months.

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CVS buys Target pharm biz for $1.9B
USA Today

Drug store chain CVS Health (CVS) will acquire big-box retailer Target’s (TGT) pharmacy and clinic business for $1.9 billion, the companies said Monday.

More than 1,660 Target pharmacies in 47 states will be rebranded as CVS/pharmacy. Target’s clinics, nearly 80 in total, will be renamed MinuteClinic. The retailers are getting cozier on another front, too. They said Target is seeking locations for new small-format stores that would also have a CVS pharmacy inside.

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