KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Mass. Community Hospitals Struggle With Low Payments

In other Massachusetts hospital news, a heated debate is taking place in the statehouse regarding how hospitals can press insurers to cover virtual visits. Elsewhere, Marketplace reports that hospital mergers within state borders may drive up treatment prices and the CEO of Chicago's Presence has diagnosed the hospital chain's financial ills. In Dallas, Parkland Hospital is experimenting with how patients with complex conditions can care for themselves at home.

The Boston Globe: Health Costs May Rise As Small Hospitals Struggle
Massachusetts community hospitals are losing business to larger urban teaching hospitals, a trend that threatens to undermine the state’s campaign to curb health care spending. In its first report on the issue, the state’s Health Policy Commission said Monday that community hospitals are being squeezed by lower payments from insurers and the choice of many patients to be treated at big Boston hospitals, even for routine medical care. (Dayal McCluksey, 3/21)

STAT: As Virtual Doctor Visit Takes Off, Debate Over Who Should Pay Heats Up
When is a video chat with a doctor equivalent to an office visit? State legislators across the US have been grappling with that question as hospitals press for insurance companies to fully cover virtual appointments — and insurers balk at those demands. But the political wrangling, including a heated debate now at the Massachusetts statehouse, hasn’t stopped the growth of telemedicine. (Bailey, 3/22)

Marketplace: Hospital Mergers Within State Borders Drive Up Costs
There’s a growing – and troubling – body of evidence that hospital mergers lead to higher prices. In other words, insurers, employers — we all tend to pay more for C-sections, heart surgery and hip replacements as hospitals get bigger and more powerful. (Gorenstein, 3/21)

The Chicago Tribune: Presence Health CEO Tending To Ailing Hospital Chain
Michael Englehart, president and CEO of Presence Health, is not a doctor. But he's caring for a sick patient — his hospital chain. In an unusually frank discussion Wednesday, Englehart said he's surprised at what he has uncovered since starting Oct. 1. His diagnosis is ugly. Billing and collection failures. Weak internal accounting controls. Outdated technology. (Sachdev, 3/18)

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