Health officials are warning that the United States may have an unusually harsh flu season this year.
But they stress that flu seasons are notoriously difficult to predict, and it’s far too early to know for sure what may happen.
The concern stems from several factors, including signs that the season started a few weeks earlier than usual. “When you have an early start with regional outbreaks, that is generally not a good sign,” says Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Sometimes that’s the forerunner of a serious season.”
An early start could mean a longer season, which could mean more people end up getting infected with the flu.
Hospitals and health plans are increasingly investing in consumer-oriented services to remain competitive as patients and members shop more for their care.
Most healthcare executives currently focus at least part of their strategic plan on consumerism, and they expect that will only continue to grow in the years ahead, according to respondents to Modern Healthcare’s most recent CEO Power Panel survey.
“Consumerism is evolving pretty substantially in the healthcare industry,” said Warner Thomas, CEO of Jefferson, La.-based Ochsner Health System. “This is a change that is going to continue to accelerate, and organizations need to embrace it because it’s going to happen whether you like it or not.”
About 83% of survey respondents said at least 25% or more of their strategic plan currently includes a consumerism component. About 75% of CEOs in the survey say they expect more than 50% of their strategic plan to focus on consumerism within the next three to five years.
With one week to go before the Affordable Care Act’s fifth open enrollment comes to an end on Dec. 15, experts believe it’s highly unlikely HealthCare.gov signups will match last year’s.The number of Americans signing up for coverage each week since open enrollment began Nov. 1 has blown past last year, topping 3.6 million people in the first five weeks, according to the most recent data from the CMS. But the pace of signups likely wasn’t enough to make up for the truncated enrollment period and the cuts in funding for marketing and outreach. The Trump administration slashed the open enrollment period this year to 45 days from 90 days.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose vote was pivotal in pushing the GOP tax bill forward last week, thought she had a deal to bolster health care protections in exchange for her support.
But it’s now far from clear that her strategy to shore up part of the Affordable Care Act will prevail or that her deal would produce the results she anticipates.
The tax bill repeals the ACA’s fines for the “individual mandate,” which requires most people to have health insurance or pay a fine.
My patients are struggling to survive the Trump Administration and the GOP Congress. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. The GOP tax scam is yet another assault on the health care of my patients and their families. All year long the Republicans have attacked the ACA and Medicaid with no regard for the millions of everyday people who will suffer.
Let me tell you a little bit about my patients. They are children struggling with poverty just a few minutes away from where we’re standing right now. I worry about their survival because politicians in Congress are not prioritizing their basic human right of health care. Rather than extend CHIP and give my patients’ families peace of mind about their children’s coverage and health care, Republicans have prioritized huge, unnecessary tax cuts for the super rich.
If the GOP tax scam becomes law, the federal deficit will explode. My patients will suffer even more because their federal government will tell them it can not afford basic necessities like health care, nutrition, and housing.
During last year’s election campaign, candidate Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans surprisingly managed to avoid political damage over proposals in the GOP platform to restructure and cut Medicare and Medicaid. Democrats rarely unleashed their potent Medi-scare ad campaigns from previous elections, warning older voters about the danger of Republicans going after their beloved Medicare benefits. That line of attack was blunted because Trump repeatedly promised not to touch Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.
The architects of the slew of major healthcare deals announced in the past week offered a common rationale: The combinations will lower costs and improve care. Yet a closer examination of the deals suggests these hookups merely tinker around the edges of the major drivers of healthcare spending. And, for the two deals hatched on Wall Street, a good argument can be made that they are more motivated by the profits that come from financial engineering than the savings that can be derived from lowering the cost of care.The biggest deal involves CVS Health’s plan to buy Aetna for $67.5 billion.
Lawmakers bought themselves a couple of more weeks to hammer out a spending bill, including funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and to battle the opioid epidemic. President Donald Trump on Friday signed into law a continuing resolution that will keep the government open until Dec. 22. While this will allow states to tap into existing CHIP monies, it does nothing to assuage worries about long-term funding. Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP, as well as funding for community health centers, earlier this year.Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chair of the Appropriations health subcommittee, said he is optimistic Congress will allocate money to battle the opioid crisis, but it’s unlikely to be the $45 billion sought by Democratic lawmakers.
Unnoticed by most of the media, the Congressional Budget Office recently released a report that could profoundly change American seniors’ healthcare coverage.
The report updates a 2013 CBO analysis of the potential impact of switching Medicare to a premium support system. Under such a system private plans would compete with the traditional fee-for-service plan much like today, but with a big difference. Whereas now, for most beneficiaries, Part A is free and Part B requires a modest premium, under premium support the government would pay only up to regional benchmark amounts for Parts A and B together. Seniors choosing a plan (or the FFS option) priced above the benchmark would pay the difference.
For two years, Saint Anthony Hospital here has celebrated its top-rated “A” grade from the national Leapfrog Group that evaluates hospital safety records. But this fall, when executives opened a preview of their score, they got an unwelcome surprise: a “C.”
Hospitals take their ratings seriously, despite hospital industry experts’ skepticism about their scientific methodology and studies showing that scores may not have a huge influence on patient behavior. In a highly competitive market, no one wants to be a “C”-rated safety hospital any more than a “C”-rated restaurant for cleanliness.
The year is almost certain to end with Congress repealing the individual mandate for insurance coverage, but unable to agree on new measures to help contain healthcare costs or to improve quality.But that’s certainly not the end of the story. Those of us on the front lines are moving ahead anyway, finding new ways to deliver high-quality and cost-efficient care.The mission is essential: While the increases in healthcare costs have slowed, they still outpace economic growth. Care can be fragmented. Quality is not always consistent. There’s too much variability in diagnostics and treatment, which can increase costs without improving outcomes.
Patients and physicians differ in their definition of high-value care, a new survey finds, with patients favoring affordability and convenience while physicians think relationships with patients and outcomes are most important to achieve high-value care. The survey, conducted by Leavitt Partners and commissioned by the University of Utah Health, emphasizes the disconnect providers have with patients as healthcare continues its transition to value-based care.
The association between birth control pills and breast cancer was identified years ago. However, many women and their doctors have assumed that newer, lower-dose pills — and other hormonal delivery methods beyond the pill — were much safer. Is there still a risk?
The researchers analyzed data on 1,797,932 women younger than 50 who did not have cancer and had not undergone fertility treatment. About 60 percent of the women used some type of hormonal contraception, and about 40 percent did not. In about an 11-year span, 11,517 women got a breast cancer diagnosis. The study found that those using hormonal contraception of any sort were 20 percent more likely to have developed breast cancer than were women who did not use it. The longer women had used hormonal contraception, the greater their risk — increasing from a 9 percent heightened risk with less than one year of use to a 38 percent greater risk after more than 10 years of use.
Many people who are near the end of life wait too long to enter hospice care, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
In hospice care, attempts to cure a disease are usually replaced with treatments solely for pain and suffering, delivered by a specialized team. It usually includes medical and nursing care, counseling and social services, and it can be given at home, in a nursing home or in a hospital facility.
People who put off hospice care might spend months in and out of hospitals, with their families struggling to attend to them. “At some point, patients and their families and doctors realize that hospice is appropriate, but that happens perhaps later than it should,” says study author Thomas Michael Gill, a professor of medicine, epidemiology and investigative medicine, and the Humana Foundation professor of geriatric medicine at Yale University. “When folks are referred to hospice only in the last days of their life, it’s difficult to have a meaningful benefit.”
It’s a typical hectic morning at Michele Comisky’s house in Vienna, Va., when she gets a knock on her front door.
“Hi, how are you?” Comisky says as she greets Keisha Herbin Smith, a research assistant at Georgetown University. “Come on in.”
Comisky, 39, leads Herbin Smith into her kitchen.
“Which one isn’t feeling good?” asks Herbin Smith, glancing at Comisky’s children. “That one,” Comisky says, pointing to her 8-year-old son, Jackson.
“We built it and we just let it run. We’re a few dudes in an office and our goal is to keep it running. It does everything we could do, except it’s significantly more powerful and it has completely automated how our work is being done,” casually said the hedge fund manager as he described the process by which nearly $1billion was being managed within his fund.
The ‘it’ is an artificial intelligence (AI) based algorithm that uses complex statistics to analyze variables that went into successful decisions and uses advanced computer programs to keep replicating those decisions.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, commonly referred to as PhRMA, has filed suit against the state of California to block a law that would require drug companies to disclose price increases.
PhRMA filed the suit Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The suit alleges that Senate Bill 17 is “unprecedented and unconstitutional,” claims that it violates interstate trade laws under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and drug companies’ First Amendment rights. The suit is seeking an injunction that would prevent the law from going into effect Jan. 1.
In 2014, Gary Millman signed up his 28-year-old son James for health coverage with Health Net for a very specific reason. James had been battling drug addiction for close to a decade, and the Woodland Hills insurer offered the best coverage in California for substance abuse treatment.
Millman, a semi-retired business executive living in Santa Rosa, was happy with the coverage, even as the premium for James’ policy alone rose to more than $700 a month. But in early 2016, something suddenly changed. James needed another round of treatment, but of the addiction treatment centers Millman contacted, all of which were outside the insurer’s network, none would take him as a patient.
A Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health combination that would form a not-for-profit powerhouse exemplifies a traditional health system mega-merger under a newly popular two-pronged leadership approach.More than a year after announcing plans to align, CHI and Dignity late last week signed a definitive agreement to merge, potentially creating the nation’s largest not-for-profit hospital company.The new health system would include 139 hospitals, more than 159,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and other advanced practice clinicians.