Category Archives: Health News

Texas Hospitals Receive Federal Funds To Improve Access


North Carolina Health News:
Kaiser Study: Rural Hospitals Close For Many Reasons


Across the United States, 76 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, three of them in North Carolina. A new report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured attributes rural hospital closings to a broad range of factors. They include, but aren’t limited to, corporate decisions on profitability, lack of community expertise in dealing with large health-care organizations, changes in federal reimbursement policies, and some states’ decision not to expand Medicaid. (Goldsmith, 7/22)

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Most HIPAA Violation Complaints Quietly Closed By Government Through Private Letter


ProPublica:
The Secret Documents That Detail How Patients’ Privacy Is Breached


As part of its examination into the impact of privacy violations on patients, ProPublica has posted about 300 of these “closure letters” in our HIPAA Helper tool. The app allows users to review details of these cases and track repeat offenders. We obtained the letters under the Freedom of Information Act and this is the largest repository of them ever made public. Most of the letters we’ve received were sent to two large providers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and CVS Health. (Ornstein, 7/21)

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FDA Lags On Rule To Strengthen Protections For Patients Using Generics


Stat:
Pfizer Spars With The Taxman Again, Seeks $8 Million In Overdue Interest


If nothing else, Pfizer is extremely diligent about anything involving taxes. The big drug maker, which raised a national ruckus by pursuing acquisitions designed to lower its tax rate, has engaged in another showdown of sorts with the US Department of Treasury. The latest dispute however, involves decidedly lower stakes — nearly $8.3 million in interest that Pfizer claims it’s owed on a $500 million overpayment that was noted on its 2008 tax return. (Silverman, 7/21)

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Viewpoints: Donald Trump On Imported Prescription Drugs; In ‘Shadow’ Of GOP Convention, Obamacare’s Impact


The Washington Post:
My Brother Loves Politics. But He Thought His Disability Meant He Couldn’t Vote.


My brother and I sat in stiff chairs in a government office, a clipboard of paperwork in front of us. He’d recently moved, and we were there to sign him up for health care. Flipping through the papers, he came upon a voter-registration form. “People like me can vote?” my brother asked. I had to look away from him for a moment so that I wouldn’t cry in the middle of the waiting room. Like millions of Americans, my older brother lives with a disability. He was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which means he hears voices and battles mood fluctuations. He also struggles with some learning disabilities that resulted when doctors used forceps to help deliver him as a baby. Thanks to good doctors, medication and a remarkable day program, he is doing well. He is strong, compassionate and funny. He watches the news and is well informed; we’ve discussed the Islamic State, North Korea, the poor, jobs, what to do about the homeless and the presidential campaign. But he didn’t know he could vote. (Wendy Button, 7/22)

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Research Roundup: International Travel Risks; Telehealth; Freestanding ERs; Methadone Use


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly (CDC):
Trends In Methadone Distribution For Pain Treatment, Methadone Diversion, And Overdose Deaths — United States, 2002–2014


Use of the prescription opioid methadone for treatment of pain, rather than for treatment of opioid use disorder, has been identified as an important contributor to the rise in opioid-related overdose deaths. In recent years, a number of actions to reduce the use of methadone for pain treatment have been taken. … During 2002–2006, the national distribution rate of methadone increased, on average, 25.1% per year, methadone-involved drug overdose deaths increased 22.1% per year, and methadone diversion increased 24.3% per year. After 2006, methadone distribution declined 3.2% per year, and methadone-involved overdose deaths declined 6.5% per year. Rates of methadone diversion continued to increase during 2006–2009, but substantially more slowly, and then declined an average of 12.8% per year beginning in 2010. (Jones et al., 7/8)

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Nursing Homes Phase Out Alarms In Favor Of Proactive Care, Other Measures To Reduce Falls


The Columbus Dispatch:
Evictions From Nursing Homes Top Complaints


Complaints about seniors and younger disabled adults being evicted from nursing homes was the top-reported problem about long-term care facilities in Ohio in 2015. … No one tracks evictions specifically, but there were 805 complaints in Ohioabout involuntary discharges or transfers last year, the majority of which — 653 — involved nursing homes, (Beverley) Laubert said. It’s a troubling trend nationwide that is poised to get worse as the number of older adults grows, advocates say. (Pyle, 7/4)

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Report: Number Of Psychiatric Beds In State Hospitals Has Drastically Declined


Stat:
Some Hospitals Resist New Fresh Air Rules For Psychiatric Patients


Friday, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health issued new “Fresh Air” rules for psychiatric patients across the state. … The rules require hospitals to grant mental health patients daily access to the outdoors. But up to 20 hospitals, including Massachusetts General, plan to seek waivers to the new rules, citing a lack of space. Those hospitals represent about one-third of psychiatric facilities statewide. The rules present a tug-of-war over patients’ rights, doctors’ judgment, and the logistical demands of running a hospital in an urban environment. (Bailey, 7/5)

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A New Specialty For Doctors: Overnight Shifts


NPR:
Few Young Doctors Are Training To Care For U.S. Elderly


At Edgewood Summit retirement community in Charleston, W.Va., 93-year-old Mary Mullens is waxing eloquent about her geriatrician, Dr. Todd Goldberg. “He’s sure got a lot to do,” she says, “and does it so well.” West Virginia has the third oldest population in the nation, right behind Maine and Florida. But Goldberg is one of only 36 geriatricians in the state. “With the growing elderly population across America and West Virginia, obviously we need healthcare providers,” says Goldberg. (Lofton, 7/3)

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UnitedHealthcare Claims Dialysis Chain Engaged In Fraudulent, Illegal Billing Scheme


The New York Times:
UnitedHealthcare Sues Dialysis Chain Over Billing


Private health insurers can pay more than $4,000 for each dialysis treatment. Government health plans like Medicaid pay around $200. That gaping price difference was the motivation for a scheme, orchestrated by a for-profit dialysis chain, that illegally pushed poor people in Florida and Ohio out of inexpensive government programs and into expensive private plans sold by UnitedHealthcare, according to a lawsuit the giant insurer filed in federal court on Friday. UnitedHealthcare says the arrangement needlessly exposed the patients to medical bills. (Abelson and Thomas, 7/1)

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Viewpoints: Thumbs Down On GOP Health Care Replacement Plan; Independence Day For The FDA?


The Columbus Dispatch:
Doctors Should Push Cancer Fix


The HPV vaccine should be called a miracle drug. It can prevent half a dozen of the most common cancers caused by the human papillomavirus, including cervical, vaginal, anal, vulvar, throat and penile cancers. If administered before children become sexually active, preferably when a child is 11 or 12, it could prevent tens of thousands of cases of cancer decades later, averting untold suffering. (7/5)

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