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Bayer Is Facing Tens Of Thousands Of Roundup Cancer Suits. But It Still Has A Product To Sell, Too.

KHN Morning Briefing

Past mass-litigation suits often resulted in a company discontinuing their product, changing it, or adding a warning label. None of the options are workable for Bayer, who is still arguing that its weedkiller is safe, and so the company is stuck in a bind. “I don’t know how they can insulate themselves from future liability,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor.

Insurers Try To Avoid Trump Administration Order By Taking Price Transparency Into Their Own Hands

KHN Morning Briefing

The insurers are hoping that if they voluntarily provide more price transparency in the way they want to, they can convince the Trump administration to abandon its proposal that would force them into it. In other news from the health industry: middle-aged Americans worry about costs, how some patients are setting their own terms when it comes to surprise medical bills, and an update on the Theranos fraud case.

Big Tech’s Push Into Health Care Is So Last Year. Now It’s Big Retail That’s Making Waves.

KHN Morning Briefing

Companies like BestBuy and Walmart are getting into the lucrative landscape. In other news from the health industry: Johnson & Johnson hit with another painful jury decision; workforce growth for those caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities plateaus; scope-of-practice legislation sparks debate; some nonprofit hospitals aren’t earning their tax breaks; and more.

About 60 Hospitals Join Epic In Fight Against HHS Rules Designed To Make It Easier For Patients To Get Records

KHN Morning Briefing

The health systems say they’re worried the interoperability rule “will be overly burdensome on our health system and will endanger patient privacy.” HHS Secretary Alex Azar has in the past expressed frustration that stakeholders push back fiercely against the rules. In other news at the intersection of health and technology: why electronic health records annoy burned-out doctors, a software deal, and a fraud charge.

Investors Nervous About Anthem’s Medical Loss Ratio As Insurer Forecasts Earnings Below Expectations

KHN Morning Briefing

Anthem said its medical loss ratio was 89% in the fourth quarter, higher than the 88.1% figure that a consensus of analysts had estimated. Investors closely watch the MLR as a gauge of health spending and insurers’ operational profitability. In other health industry news: short-term plans, Walmart’s bet on primary care, job cuts, worker shortages, and more.

Azar Frustrated That Some Stakeholders Are Fiercely Pushing Back Against Interoperability Rules

KHN Morning Briefing

The two interoperability proposals, released by the ONC and the CMS early last year, are designed to make it easier for providers, insurers and patients to exchange health data, HHS Secretary Alex Azar says. But some groups have expressed privacy concerns about the changes. Meanwhile, experts say a national patient identifier may help some, but it won’t act as a cure-all for all coordination woes.

At Height Of Feud Between Azar And Verma, White House Advisers Drew Up List Of Replacements

KHN Morning Briefing

Advisers were braced for HHS Secretary Alex Azar or CMS Administrator Seema Verma to abruptly leave the Trump administration as they waged an increasingly public and personal feud last year. The issue has since seemed to simmer down. In other HHS and CMS news, a new study looks at what Medicare paid for undelivered post-op visits in 2018.