Tag Archives: Health News

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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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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