KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Electronic Medicaid Data Goes Missing; New Report Says Med-Tech Companies ‘Under Siege’

The Philadelphia Inquirer: "A computer flash drive containing the names, addresses, and personal health information of 280,000 people," primarily Medicaid recipients, "is missing - one of the largest recent security breaches of personal health data in the nation." The "security failure" involved nearly two-thirds of subscribers to the Philadelphia-based companies Keystone Mercy Health Plan and AmeriHealth Mercy Health Plan, and as of Tuesday, "there had been no reports of anyone trying to use the information stored on the drive." The news "comes at a time when there is more emphasis - and billions of dollars in federal funding - to develop protocols for electronic medical records, with information being shared among providers, insurers, and consumers" (Von Bergen, 10/21).

The Star Tribune reports that while medical technology companies "fared pretty well in the past year," the business model "for developing new medical devices is under siege, according to an industry study released this week by Ernst & Young." Last year, U.S. publicly traded med-tech companies experienced a revenue decline for the first time since 2004: "In the slow economy, many patients have delayed discretionary medical procedures," and hospitals "have cut back on med-tech purchases."

And, "it takes more money and time to win approval of new products," suppressing the traditional process of innovation "driven by iterative changes to existing products." The Obama administration favors "comparing medical interventions to determine which is the most effective" in determining which products will be reimbursed, and the report suggests "med-tech companies must diversify in unorthodox ways to spread risk and tap new revenue sources" (Moore, 10/20).

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