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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

Unemployment Rate Falls To 13.3%, Shocking Experts Who Expected Grimmer Numbers

KHN Morning Briefing

The report is the latest sign that the economic free fall may have bottomed out. But experts say that it still may take years for the economy to truly recover. The Labor Department said the improvements, “reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April.”

Nursing Homes With Bad Track Records Eye Financial Incentives To Take In COVID Patients

KHN Morning Briefing

Advocates say that the generous government incentives designed to help patients who are recovering from COVID-19 will only serve to expose more elderly people to some of the factors that led to nearly 26,000 deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic. For example, eight of 20 nursing homes in Michigan selected by the state government to build wings for coronavirus-positive patients are currently rated as “below average” or “much below average.” Meanwhile, CMS says it will fine nursing homes weekly for not submitting outbreak data.

Retractions Of 2 Major Drug Studies Heighten Fears Research Is Being Rushed During Crisis

KHN Morning Briefing

The Lancet, one of the world’s top medical journals, retracted an influential study on the potential harms of hydroxychloroquine on Thursday. Just over an hour later, the New England Journal of Medicine did the same with a separate study from the same company. There has been growing concern in the scientific community that the usual process–which can be rigorous and time-consuming–is being compromised in favor of quick answers during the global pandemic.

Are Patient Privacy Rights Being Betrayed In Data Trades The Mayo Clinic Makes With Tech Companies?

KHN Morning Briefing

The data is ”de-identified”, but ethics experts pose questions about a patient’s rights to opt out and what, if anything, is owed to them. The trades help companies develop digital products and services and are worth about $5 million to the Mayo Clinic. Other technology news is on teleheath, new discussions about the future of national patient identifiers and phishing targeting WHO.

HHS Has Yet To Allot Nearly $100 Billion In Aid To Hard-Hit Hospitals, Health Clinics

KHN Morning Briefing

“Congress intended these dollars to go to health care providers quickly to combat the pandemic,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. “It’s clear that the Trump administration’s distribution of this aid has been poorly targeted and too slow in coming.” Meanwhile, HHS changes its rules for provider relief grants.

Inexperienced Contractors Hired In Spending Spree Try To Change Narrative With Lobbying Push

KHN Morning Briefing

More not-so-flattering information is coming to light about the contractors that were awarded government contracts in the early days of the pandemic. In particular, an event planning company that was awarded money to help distribute food to needy families has drawn criticism. Now the firms want to shift the story. In other news on food aid: New York City tries to keep up with surging demand, protests create food deserts in Minneapolis and consumers worry about rising prices.

Remdesivir Trial Shows Some Improvement Among Moderately Ill Patients

KHN Morning Briefing

The Gilead-led study involved nearly 600 patients who had moderate pneumonia but did not need oxygen support. There were no deaths among patients on five days of the antiviral drug, two among those on 10 days, and four among patients getting standard care alone.

FDA Has Somewhat Reined In At-Home-Testing Market, But Doubts About Accuracy Still Linger

KHN Morning Briefing

The FDA authorized the emergency use of six coronavirus at-home collection kits, which could help the country reopen and allow employees to more safely return to work. But after a rocky start, can they really be trusted to give accurate results consistently enough to be effective? Meanwhile, a look at how President Donald Trump’s plan for drive-in testing sites has largely failed.

While Many Mysteries About Novel Coronavirus Remain, Scientists Have Learned Plenty

KHN Morning Briefing

The New York Times looks at things we know, like that the trauma from the illness will likely be long lasting in severe cases; and things we don’t, like what is the actual death rate. In other scientific news: WHO officials push back on the idea that the virus is weakening; experts offer tips on reading medical articles; doctors report a wide range of neurological symptoms; and more.

Masks And Social Distancing Help Curb Virus, But Scientists Say Don’t Forget To Wash Your Hands

KHN Morning Briefing

The report also found that eye gear can help as well, but that no single thing is the perfect solution. Meanwhile, a study reiterates the importance of health care professionals wearing N95s instead of just surgical masks. Other news on protective face coverings focuses on the challenges of kids wearing masks and state leaders’ efforts to secure protective gear.

Testing Can Still Depend On Who You Know, Exacerbating Socioeconomic Disparities In Outbreak

KHN Morning Briefing

A lack of a national allocation system has created a patchy landscape of unequal testing access. In some places anyone can get a test. In others it’s a struggle. The divide threatens to worsen disparities that are already influencing the crisis. Meanwhile, Japan reports success in bucking the “test, test, test” model that’s being championed by public health experts worldwide. In other news: not everyone is rushing to get a test; should people get one even without symptoms?; costs continue to be a factor even with the promise of a free test; and more.

Feds Awarded PPE Contracts Worth Over $1M To Many Untested Companies, And Some Fail To Deliver

KHN Morning Briefing

An analysis by CNN finds that nearly 1 out of every 5 federal contracts for $1 million or more went to first-time contractors. And some had no previous experience producing or procuring personal protective equipment. ProPublica also continues to investigate such government awards, launching a database to track federal pandemic-related purchases.

Emergency Government Aid Cushions Blow For Some, But Crisis Will Far Outlast That Support

KHN Morning Briefing

Most Americans have only received that one $1,200 check. And for those laid off, the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits is set to dry up in the summer. The economic devastation from the pandemic, though, will likely continue on for months if not years, experts say. Meanwhile, lawmakers in New York consider legislation that would allow New York City to borrow $7 billion to pay for the pandemic.