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Latest Kaiser Health News Stories

Escalating Public Feud Between Azar And Verma Reaching ‘Soap Opera’ Levels Of Melodrama

KHN Morning Briefing

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has now summoned HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to meet at the White House this week to see if they can continue to work together amid the bickering. Meanwhile, allegations continue to emerge about who is leaking what information and the motives behind the riff.

UnitedHealth To Acquire Specialty Drug Provider Diplomat Pharmacy At A Steep Discount

KHN Morning Briefing

“This combination will expand the innovative specialty pharmacy and infusion solutions OptumRx can offer to the consumers and clients we serve,” said John Prince, the chief executive of OptumRx, a division under UnitedHealth. In other health industry news: cigarette stocks rebrand, a former executive pleads guilty to fraud, Banner Health agrees to a settlement over a data breach.

Trump, HHS Publicly Support CMS Chief Verma Amid Latest Controversy Over $47,000 Claim For Stolen Jewelry, Property

KHN Morning Briefing

CMS Administrator Seema Verma filed a claim with the government after $47,000 worth of jewelry and other property was stolen during a work trip. According to White House aides, President Donald Trump is standing by Verma, despite the fact that she’s embroiled in another controversy over spending millions on communications contracts as well as an increasingly hostile and public feud with HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Meanwhile, HHS says it was “perfectly appropriate” for Verma to file the claim.

White House Supports Surprise Medical Bills Plan, But That Doesn’t Mean It Will Be Smooth Sailing From Here On Out

KHN Morning Briefing

Efforts to address surprise medical bills had stalled until a bipartisan agreement emerged over this past weekend. The White House praised lawmakers’ “delicate work” to reach a deal, which is a compromise between two other strategies for dealing with the costs. But even with the White House’s support, question marks remain about whether the deal can be pushed through both chambers and sent to President Donald Trump by the end of the year.

VA Opens Institute To Pursue Research On Artificial Intelligence

KHN Morning Briefing

As a national health system, the VA has amassed a significant amount of data—possibly giving it a leg up because lack of trustworthy and accessible data has traditionally been one of the major roadblocks to AI development. In other health technology news: a website helps patients with rare diseases find more information about them.

Verma Sought To Have Taxpayers Reimburse Her For $47,000 In Stolen Jewelry, Property In Work-Related Trip

KHN Morning Briefing

The government ultimately reimbursed CMS Administrator Seema Verma $2,852.40 for her claim. HHS has a longstanding policy of paying for certain goods when they are lost during a work trip, so long as they “are not inherently for other uses.” Meanwhile, tensions between Verma and HHS Secretary Alex Azar have reportedly escalated to a point that an outside counsel was brought in to investigation allegations of sex discrimination.

Bipartisan Breakthrough Focusing On Arbitration May Kick-Start Stalled Surprise Medical Bills Negotiations

KHN Morning Briefing

Tackling surprise medical bills was touted as an issue that might actually make it through the severely divided Congress, but then talks broke down earlier in the year when it came time to choose a strategy to move forward with. Now a proposal from key House and Senate leaders, built on the idea of a dispute resolution system, could be gaining traction.

Government’s Decision To Cut Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments Paid Off For Rural Consumers

KHN Morning Briefing

A new study found that states that used “silver-loading” or “silver-switching” strategies to compensate for the cost-sharing reduction payment cuts offered lower premiums for subsidized enrollees. The Trump administration has solicited feedback on potentially banning silver-loading in 2021. In other insurance and costs news: bundled payments, penalties, health care sharing ministries and more.

Glitch With Diabetes Monitors Drives Home Dangers Of Depending On Technology

KHN Morning Briefing

One of the selling points of these particular diabetes monitors is that they allow people other than the person with diabetes — like the parent of a young child — to receive alerts when blood sugar drops too low. But in recent days, those alerts stopped working.

Desperate Patients Encouraged To Take Out Loans, Borrow Money To Pay For Unproven, Risky Stem Cell Treatments

KHN Morning Briefing

Stem cell clinics have popped up across the country, and they are largely unregulated. More and more patients have been coming forward to speak out about the predatory nature of the industry. News from the health industry also focuses on hospitals suing poor patients, a GE health care unit, and an FBI investigation into Beth Israel’s transplant program.