Category Archives: Health News

State Highlights: In Mass., Baystate Health Confronts $75M Budget Shortfall; Philly Firefighters Face New Requirement: Physicials

Outlets report on health news from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Texas, Ohio, Iowa, California and Illinois.

The Boston Globe:
Baystate Health Plans 300 Layoffs To Fix $75M Budget Hole
Baystate Health, the dominant health care system in Western Massachusetts, plans to lay off about 300 people as it tries to close a $75 million budget shortfall spurred by shrinking federal payments, the nonprofit said Friday. In a memo to Baystate staff, chief executive Mark A. Keroack said the job cuts — about 2.5 percent of the company’s employees — could save Baystate about $20 million. … The health system, which has an annual budget of just over $2 billion, said it would still face a budget gap of about $15 million after those layoffs and another $40 million in unspecified spending cuts. (Woodward, 8/12)

The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Philly Firefighters Get Mandatory Physicals, For The First Time In Decades
The Philadelphia Fire Department has long conducted medical exams for new …
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Filed under Health News, Kaiser Insurance News

Viewpoints: Problems With Medicare’s Three-Day Rule; Politics, Premiums And Obamacare

A selection of opinions on health care from around the country.

The Boston Globe:
Unfair To Patients: Medicare’s Three-Day Rule 
Increasingly, hospitals have chosen to keep some patients … under observation — rather than formally admitting them — for days on end. Administrators hope to avoid the heightened attention that inpatient admissions can bring from private auditors hired by Medicare to root out what they consider excessive spending. Patients can become pawns in this game that pits providers against payers. For reasons that only a bureaucrat could attempt to justify, hours spent under observation don’t count toward the three days of care needed to trigger Medicare coverage for post-hospitalization nursing home care. (8/15)

The Wall Street Journal:
ObamaCare Sicker Shock
Hillary Clinton admits she’s running to extend the Obama legacy, and so far she’s had a free ride in defending it. She hasn’t even had to explain the increasingly …
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States’ IVF Laws Get Scrutiny Following Same-Sex Coverage Battles

If a state has a law mandating that insurance companies cover treatments, it often requires the couple to prove infertility. Same-sex couples say that’s discriminatory, and a case out of New Jersey may help change that.

U.S. News & World Report:
Same-Sex Infertility Case Exposes Lack Of Access To Reproductive Treatment
A recent lawsuit involving lesbians in New Jersey who are trying to conceive is highlighting how unaffordable infertility treatments can be – and raising deeper questions about who has the right to assistance in conceiving a child. For many Americans, health insurance does not cover fertility treatment; the few for whom it does are usually in heterosexual marriages. But today’s modern family is different: same-sex marriage is legal, the government has lifted its ban on taxpayer dollars going toward gender reassignment surgery and single people choose to become parents on their own. But while these people don’t fit the description …
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Virtual Reality Could Circumvent Some Challenges To Diagnosing Pedophilia

Researchers have found the disorder difficult to study because they don’t want to use pictures of children, but virtual reality could help with that. Critics, however, are wary that it could lead to a missed diagnosis. In other health technology news, institutions delve into the ways computers can help diagnose cancer, a clinic in Georgia is hacked and Pokemon Go games prove “very useful” in getting people moving.

Stat:
Using Virtual Reality To Diagnose Pedophilia Stirs Up Controversy
A handful of scientists are testing a controversial practice of using virtual reality to diagnose pedophilia in men in hopes of helping them manage their sexual desires before they act on them. Pedophilia, a psychiatric disorder, affects up to 5 percent of men, according to the American Psychiatric Association. But it’s difficult to study because researchers don’t want to use real photos of children to measure arousal. So they’re turning …
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Secrecy Shrouds Boards That Wield Immense Power Over Prescription Drug Coverage

Pharmacy benefit managers release a list of drugs they’re excluding for coverage for the year, which helps pressure drugmakers into keeping prices affordable. But the people on the board that makes those decisions are undisclosed, and critics are calling for increased transparency.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
A Secretive Board Controls Access To Prescription Drugs For Millions Of Americans
Each year, Express Scripts releases a list of prescription drugs it will exclude from coverage for the upcoming year, and that list is determined by a secretive board of doctors and a pharmacist. The nation’s largest pharmacy benefit manager, which is based in St. Louis County, does not disclose the names of the board members or any actual or potential conflicts of interest they may have. Express Scripts is not alone. (Liss, 8/14)
Earlier, related KHN coverage: Filling A Prescription? You Might Be Better Off Paying Cash (Appleby, 6/24)

NPR:
Will Your Prescription Meds …
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CMS Says It Will Release Hospital Star Ratings ‘Shortly’


Kaiser Health News:
Medicare Prepares To Go Forward With New Hospital Quality Ratings


Despite objections from Congress and the hospital industry, the Obama administration said it will soon publish star ratings summing up the quality of 3,662 hospitals. Nearly half will be rated as average, and hospitals that serve the poor will not score as well overall as will other hospitals, according to government figures released Thursday. The government says the ratings, which will award between one and five stars to each hospital, will be more useful to consumers than its current mishmash of more than 100 individual metrics, many of which deal with technical matters. The hospital industry, however, fears the ratings will be misleading and oversimplify the many types of care at the institutions. (Rau, 7/22)

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Bedeviled Theranos Brings On Compliance, Regulatory Executives


Reuters:
Theranos Hires Executives In Regulatory, Compliance Push


Blood-testing company Theranos Inc said on Thursday it hired two executives to oversee regulatory, quality and compliance standards, as the company tries to recover from a series of regulatory sanctions and investigations. The company named former Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc executive Dave Wurtz vice president, regulatory and quality. Daniel Guggenheim, who previously served as assistant general counsel at McKesson Corp, was appointed as chief compliance officer. (Tharakan and Grover, 7/21)

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States Join Federal Antitrust Effort Against Anthem-Cigna Deal


Georgia Health News:
As Feds File Suit Over Insurance Deals, Georgia Postpones Hearing


The state’s Department of Insurance on Thursday postponed next week’s hearing on the Aetna-Humana merger after federal antitrust officials filed suit to block the proposed deal over anti-competitive concerns. The feds also filed a lawsuit Thursday to stop Anthem’s proposed acquisition of Cigna. Anthem has a significant stake here, being the parent company of Georgia’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. But it’s the Aetna-Humana deal, if consummated, that is expected to have the bigger effect on the health insurance business in Georgia. (Miller, 7/21)

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Justice Department Sues To Block Health Care Mega-Mergers


The New York Times:
U.S. Sues To Block Anthem-Cigna And Aetna-Humana Mergers


Within a three-week span last summer, four of the five biggest health insurers announced two mergers totaling $85 billion. Suddenly, what was five would be three, reshaping the industry. But on Thursday, antitrust regulators said, Not so fast. United States Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced that the government had filed lawsuits to block the deals, between Aetna and Humana and Anthem and Cigna. (Picker and Abelson, 7/21)

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State Highlights: In Mass., Hallmark Health Physicians Leave Partners For Rival System; N.Y. Repeals Tampon Tax


The CT Mirror:
Union Ad Features Disabled Woman’s Appeal To Reverse State Layoffs


Connecticut’s largest health care workers union took to the airwaves Thursday to protest ongoing state employee layoffs. The commercial launched by SEIU, New England 1199 and airing on Connecticut stations and the internet, features a woman, identified as Jenny, who is living with cerebral palsy. In the 30-second spot, Jenny, who “speaks” using a computer that reads her eye signals, makes a direct appeal to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to restore her state-appointed speech pathologist, identified only as “Mallory.” (Phaneuf, 7/21)

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