After a frenzied week of large-scale merger announcements between hospital systems across the nation, experts are left wondering: will these tie-ups transform American healthcare for the better, or stick patients with a higher bill?
St. Louis-based Ascension Health and Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health are rumored to be mulling a merger that would create the nation’s largest hospital system, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, in a long-awaited announcement, said last week they have signed an agreement to merge, creating a giant system with 139 hospitals and $28.4 billion in revenue.
In his more than two years as leader of the American Hospital Association, CEO Rick Pollack has transformed the look and approach of the lobbying organization.
Much of its senior management has turned over, departments have been revamped and this month its 90-plus year-old flagship magazine will print its last issue.
Over the past two years, divisions focused on governance, diversity and physicians have been retooled. Health Forum, a for-profit subsidiary that sells hospital data to the industry, has also been restructured, including the shuttering of Hospitals & Health Networks. Pollack said the latter move is intended to deliver a more succinct, cohesive message to AHA members.
“We are not backing off from providing the content, insight and analysis, we are just delivering it in a different form in a more streamlined, consolidated fashion,” Pollack said.
Open enrollment on the federal health law’s marketplace ends Friday, and most people who want a plan for next year need to meet the deadline.
But some consumers who miss the cutoff could be surprised to learn they have the opportunity to enroll later.
“While a lot of people will be eligible … I am still worried that a lot of consumers won’t know it,” said Shelby Gonzales, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The nation’s most influential science advisory group will tell Congress today that the U.S. pharmaceutical market is not sustainable and needs to change.
“Drugs that are not affordable are of little value and drugs that do not exist are of no value,” said Norman Augustine, chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee on drug pricing and former CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp.
The report, “Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative,” identifies eight steps to cut drug prices. It also provides a list of specific “implementation actions” for various federal agencies, including Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.
As CVS-Aetna merger talks fill the air this Christmas season and experts weigh in on the impact this will have on the economy and consumers alike, I’m sitting at a little desk in a little office contemplating health insurance.
I run a little shop that’s about as far from CVS-Aetna as you can get in the health care space : a solo practice doctor with four full time employees and revenues a little south of $65 billion dollars. I shouldn’t feel too alone. Small businesses account for 99% of US firms and employ almost half of all private sector employees. But knowing my problem is one shared by many provides only partial solace.
The mounting bipartisan push to block or delay the CMS’ planned $1.6 billion in Medicare cuts to 340B hospitals before the end of the year has the attention of congressional leaders.Bipartisan lawmakers who oppose the CMS rule are in a race against time to stall the cuts, which are slated to start Jan. 1, but they’re increasingly optimistic that a delay could happen in the end-of-the-year deal or as a stand-alone bill early in the new year. House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders are in talks with Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) on a path forward for their bill either as part of the end-of-the-year spending deal or as a stand-alone bill on track for passage early next year, according to a McKinley aide.
It’s a beautiful morning in Pittsburgh, but Ariel Haughton is stressed out. She’s worried her young children’s health insurance coverage will soon lapse.
“So, we’re like a low-middle-class family, right?” she says. “I’m studying. My husband’s working, and our insurance right now is 12 percent of our income — just for my husband and I. And it’s not very good insurance either.”
The policy that covers the couple requires high fees to even see a doctor, and has a high deductible for further treatment.
In contrast, her young children — 2-year-old Nonnie and his big sister Rose — are covered right now through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, a federal-state program that was created two decades ago to ensure that kids whose parents don’t have a lot of money, yet make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, can still get health care.
The net savings from Medicare’s accountable care organizations weren’t driven by reductions in hospitalizations despite the program’s emphasis on tackling costly inpatient stays, a new study finds. The report, published in the December issue of Health Affairs by researchers at Harvard Medical School, found hospitalizations overall didn’t decline for patients in the Medicare Shared Savings program over a three-year period. In 2012, hospitalizations among ACO patients dropped by 1.6%, but in 2013 hospitalizations fell only by 0.7% and in 2014 hospitalizations actually rose by 0.3%.
Pharmaceutical companies on Friday sued to block a new California law that would require them to give advance notice before big price increases.The law was approved this year in response to consumer outrage over a rise in drug spending and high costs for some prescription treatments, including new Hepatitis C medications and EpiPens to control allergic reactions.The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group for drugmakers, said in its lawsuit that California’s law illegally tries to dictate national health policy.
Two pills to wipe out hookworm could cost you 4 cents. Or $400. It just depends where you live.
The 4 cents is in Tanzania. That’ll cover the two pills it takes to knock out the intestinal parasite. But in the United States, where hookworm has re-emerged, the price for two 200 mg tablets of albendazole can cost as much as $400.
The pill will put an end to the problems hookworm can cause, such as anemia and protein deficiency as well as stunting growth in children.
It’s not just a problem with the anti-hookworm pill. Drugs for diseases of the developing world, in particular what are known as “neglected tropical diseases” like hookworm and leishmaniasis, are enormously more expensive in the United States than in the developing world.
Congratulations, you already got your flu shot. Except now you’re home sick … with the flu.
Early indications show this year’s vaccine may be only 10 percent effective against a dominant strain of the virus circulating the planet, and California public health officials say the greater Bay Area is one of two areas in the Golden State getting hit hardest now.
“We do know that flu vaccines are not 100 percent effective, and that their effectiveness varies from year to year,” said Dr. George Han, Santa Clara County’s assistant health officer and communicable disease controller.
With the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act, and healthcare reform in flux, patients are more concerned than ever about their insurance and prescription drug coverage. As the benefit election period comes to a close, and deciding between high deductibles or high co-pays becomes a cause of anxiety, there is some good news. The National Kidney Foundation recently announced a new, free prescription discount card that offers savings of up to 75% on brand name and generic medications.
Last week, pharmacy giant CVS agreed to purchase Aetna this week for an astounding $69 billion dollar sum. The company allegedly plans to reduce health spending by developing an integrated system touted as “a new front door for health care in America.” This merger is actually an acquisition, entailing transfer of ownership. The central aim of an acquisition is to increase market share, expand the scope of services provided, and improve financial stability. CVS hit the jackpot on all three objectives. While Wall Street investors celebrate, many of us knowledgeable in the delivery of healthcare services are wondering who will bear the responsibility for the patients harmed by this experiment?