KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Releasing Patients From The Hospital Is A Judgment Call That Can Go Wrong

"Most of the time, it's very complicated. You're trying to make an assessment: Is the person going to a home? Is there family? Are they reliable? What was the specific reason they were brought in? Is that likely to occur again?" said Bea Grause, president of the New York statewide hospital and health system association HANYS. Meanwhile what happens when a patient wants to leave but the hospital says no?

The Associated Press: Tough Question For Hospitals: Who's Too Risky To Release?
Four days before Alexander Bonds ambushed and killed a New York City police officer, he was in a hospital emergency room getting a psychiatric evaluation. The hospital released him the same day. Now the hospital's actions are under a state review ordered by the governor. St. Barnabas Hospital says it handled Bonds appropriately and welcomes the inquiry. (Peltz, 7/8)

Stat: Four Health Wearables Trying To Break Through Hospital Walls
When most people today talk about wearables, they’re likely thinking about counting steps on a FitBit or tracking movement on an Apple Watch. But a growing number of medical practitioners see potential for these devices to improve the delivery of care. Wearables are inching closer to clinical use — from checking vital signs to warning of seizures — by letting doctors monitor patients in less invasive ways. Health care startups have developed some wearables to the point where hospitals and health clinics may soon embrace them as a way to improve patient outcomes and drive down the cost of care. (Blau, 7/10)

Media outlets report on other news related to hospitals out of D.C., Oregon, Ohio, South Dakota, Minnesota and Massachusetts —

USA Today: Steve Scalise Treated At Hospital With One Of Worst Ratings In D.C.
The Washington hospital where Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise was taken for his gunshot wounds last month has scored extremely low in safety ratings, including for infections which the House majority whip is now being treated for. Medstar Washington Hospital Center scored a D in hospital safety ratings by Leapfrog Group and just two out of five stars in the ratings done by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare website. (O'Donnell, 7/8)

The Oregonian: Providence Plans Aggressive Cost-Cutting, Layoffs, Amid Health Care High Anxiety 
Providence Health & Services, Oregon's largest private-sector employer, is preparing an aggressive cost-cutting campaign that will include layoffs. The move is clearest sign to date that hospitals face a difficult, uncertain future. Providence saw its financial position deteriorate markedly in 2016, posting an operating loss of more than $255 million, filings show. Though its annual revenue topped $22 billion and, as a non-profit, it pays no income taxes, Providence is looking to cut costs across its seven-state network, multiple sources say. David Underriner, chief executive of the medical provider's Oregon operation, would not disclose numbers or locations, but did say, "there will be an impact on people." (Manning, 7/8)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Hospital Officials In Jefferson County Say GOP Health Care Plan Would Force Them To Cut Jobs
Trinity Healthcare System, by far the largest employer in Jefferson County and one of the largest employers in Eastern Ohio, likely would be forced to cut jobs and services under the health care plan proposed by Senate Republican leadership and backed by President Donald Trump, according to the health care network's top official. Trinity officials project the future Medicaid cuts proposed in the Better Care Reconciliation Act, currently under debate in the Senate, would mean a loss of $61 million in revenue over the next 10 years, interim CEO Joe Tassi said in an interview. (Tobias, 7/7)

Washington Examiner: Obamacare Wounds Doctor-Owned Hospitals
Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital in South Dakota is regularly full. Its doctors and nurses often have to work longer hours or perform elective surgeries such as hip or knee replacements on weekends. "In many cases, patients have to wait forever," said Dr. R. Blake Curd, an orthopedic surgeon and the hospital's CEO. "We don't have the physical capacity to take care of them." (Leonard, 7/10)

Pioneer Press: Deal Reached Between Blue Cross And Children’s Hospitals And Clinics 
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics are in-network again for policyholders with Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The Minnesota-based hospital network and insurance provider reached a deal Friday after the contract was terminated Wednesday following a monthslong payment dispute, Attorney General Lori Swanson announced at a news conference. Children’s Minnesota became an out-of-network provider for everyone insured by Blue Cross when the deadline for negotiations passed Wednesday without an agreement. Patients face paying more for medical care at out-of-network locations. Blue Cross had proposed a 31 percent cut to Medicaid reimbursements, which Children’s Minnesota said was an unreasonable reduction it could not accept. (Carson, 7/7)

Minnesota Public Radio: Blue Cross, Children's MN Hospitals Reach Coverage Deal
Minnesota's largest individual health insurer and its largest children's hospital system have ended a standoff affecting more than 66,000 patients. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Children's Minnesota hospitals had been unable to reach a new contract by Wednesday's deadline, meaning that thousands of patients and their families faced significantly higher costs because Blue Cross would treat Children's hospital operations as out-of-network for health coverage. (Cox, 7/7)

Boston Globe: Partners Merger With Mass. Eye And Ear To Get Close Scrutiny
Partners HealthCare’s plan to acquire the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary will get close regulatory scrutiny after a state watchdog agency concluded the merger could have a significant effect on health care costs... The decision to launch what the agency calls a cost and market impact review dashes any hopes for swift approval of the merger between the state’s largest organization of hospitals and doctors and the specialty hospital next door. (Freyer, 7/9)

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