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The Department of Justice said CVS Health’s troubled Omnicare business was routinely filling prescriptions that had expired or run out of refills. Omnicare distributes drugs to skilled-nursing and assisted-living facilities across the country, and this isn’t its first brush with legal trouble.
The House passed the sweeping legislation on Tuesday, sending it to the Senate ahead of a Friday deadline for a government shutdown. The bill will, among other things, repeal three health law taxes in a win for insurers. Media outlets dive into the particulars of what’s included — like a tobacco age ban and money for wildfire safety — and what is not. Provisions in the latter category might act as a cautionary tale for progressive Democrats as they try to push ahead with “Medicare for All.”
Specialists like anesthesiologists have more power to negotiate higher in-network payments because they’re able to bill so much out-of-network. Limiting that power would have a significant effect on spending, a new study finds. Congress has been working to find a way to curb out-of-network surprise bills, but although they’ve made progress in recent weeks, nothing has passed yet.
Lawmakers released details Monday of a bipartisan deal that would allocate $1.4 trillion in federal spending for the remainder of the fiscal year to avoid a shutdown. Among other health-related measures, it includes a provision raising the minimum purchasing age for tobacco to 21, which advocates say is a “good step” toward a “substantial reduction” in smoking among young people. Media outlets cover the ins and outs of the bills and the ways they touch on health care.
Health systems are trying innovative ways–like building a warehouse distribution facility and committing to hiring marginalized workers–to improve overall health outcomes. The push is part of a larger trend for health systems to tackle problems beyond just treating patients. In other hospital news: price transparency, co-ops, mental health care, a $1.8 billion settlement, and more.
Many feel like the tools available on the market weren’t built by people actually living with the disease, and so those with technology experience are taking matters into their own hands. In other health and technology news: virtual reality, the data Catch-22, prosthetics, cyberattacks, and Apple’s push into the health industry.
A standard connector for feeding tubes was supposed to improve patient safety by preventing accidental misconnections to equipment used for IVs or other purposes. But critics say the design instead could keep patients from real food and inadvertently creates a host of new risks, including for vulnerable premature infants.
More physicians are eschewing the traditional insurance model and opening clinics based on set fees or subscriptions. Dr. Timothy Wong talks about why he no longer accepts insurance.
Email accounts involving phishing scams seem to be the primary target through which data is exposed. In other news on health technology, Google Health hires a leading researcher on wearables.
After months of delays, the House Energy And Commerce Committee released legislation that would tackle the issue of surprise medical bills. It has garnered bipartisan support in Congress and won backing from President Donald Trump. But Ways and Means Committee lawmakers think their proposal is better.
The conflict between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma has become increasingly public and messy. As voters have been vocal about the importance of health care in recent elections, could the infighting be a distraction that President Donald Trump doesn’t need heading into a tough 2020?
Cigna has been working to trim debt after last year’s acquisition of pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts Holding Co. for $54 billion. In other news from the health industry: a corporation misses the deadline to close the deal on four Verity Health hospitals and a look at the small Medicare reduction that could make a big difference in premiums.
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.