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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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes wades through hundreds of health care policy stories each week, so you don’t have to.
Giants like 23andMe continue to dominate, but smaller firms like Veritas have had to pare back expectations. Veritas was known as one of the few companies providing whole-genome sequencing.
But while the growth in health care usage slowed last year, larger hikes in prices more than offset it. Overall, national health care spending rose to $3.65 trillion in 2018, up 4.6% from 2017, according to an annual report by nonpartisan economic HHS experts. Retail prescription drug prices dipped by 1%, the first drop since 1973.
An escalating personal rift between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Chief Seema Verma has caught President Donald Trump’s attention. Politico reports that he has directed the two public officials to settle their feud.
For hospitals, the issue of robocalls is a life-or-death problem. A provision in the House’s version of the legislation is designed specifically to protect the medical facilities from such scam calls.
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.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in their letter to CMS Chief Seema Verma cited a recent study that revealed how an algorithm widely used by hospitals to determine who needs follow-up care misclassified black patients as being less sick than their equally ill white counterparts.
Opinion writers weigh in on these health issues and others.
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.
Millions of injuries and malfunctions once funneled into a hidden Food and Drug Administration database are now available.
“You can’t take proper care of patients if you don’t document care,” said Stan Huff, chief medical informatics officer at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. In searching through the records of immigrant deaths, Politico discovered troubling issues with malfunctioning software and failures to document patient care, among other things.
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.
As alarms proliferate, hospitals are working to sort through the cacophony that can overwhelm staff and cause them to overlook real signs of harm.