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Latest Morning Briefing Stories

In Midst Of A Suicide Crisis, VA Utilizes Algorithm To Try To Identify Those At Risk And Reach Out Before It’s Too Late

KHN Morning Briefing

Since the Department of Veterans Affairs adopted the technology in 2017, about 250 fewer veterans have died by suicide than would have been expected based on the previous rate, according to the agency’s estimates. It’s not clear how big a role the algorithms played in the reported decline. Meanwhile, veterans exposed to a chemical weapon while fighting in Iraq are fighting to be recognized by the government.

Some Of Worst-Run Nursing Homes In Country Are Taxpayer-Backed With Mortgages Insured By HUD

KHN Morning Briefing

The number of taxpayer-backed nursing homes with serious deficiencies highlights the federal government’s spotty history of monitoring for-profit facilities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mortgage insurance program is a vital financial lifeline to the nursing home industry, but some people contend that the program must do more to ensure better business practices.

Trump’s Executive Order To Increase Transparency For Health Care Costs May Seem Intuitive, But Research Suggests It Could Backfire

KHN Morning Briefing

President Donald Trump released an executive order on Monday that would compel insurers, doctors and hospitals to be more transparent about health care costs, which have always been a closely guarded secret in the industry. But, because of the peculiarities of health care, it’s not clear that the move will have the intended effect. What could happen is that once companies know what their competitors are charging, they could all raise their prices in concert.

Hundreds Of Detained Immigrant Children Moved Following Disturbing Reports Of Inhumane, Unsanitary Conditions

KHN Morning Briefing

The children had been detained for weeks without access to soap, clean clothes or adequate food, The Associated Press found in a damning investigation. “There is a stench that emanates from some of the children because they haven’t had an opportunity to put on clean clothes and to take a shower,” said Elora Mukherjee, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School. It is not clear where the children have been moved, and some attorneys say the possibilities may not be an improvement. In related news, HHS Secretary Alex Azar says the rhetoric surrounding the issue is “outrageous” while Democrats’ infighting is threatening to derail emergency funding to the border.

Black Public Health Leaders Condemn Medical College Decision To Accept Juul’s $7.5M Funding

KHN Morning Briefing

The grant from the e-cigarette company set off a debate about the challenges of taking corporate money and not becoming biased in the funder’s favor. Leaders of Meharry Medical College in Tennessee said the grant allows them to open a public health center to study issues impacting African Americans. Opponents argue that African Americans are targeted with menthol cigarettes and have a higher death rate from smoking. In other news on vaping, a pen exploded and fractured a teen’s jaw.

$1T Spending Bill Passes House In What Amounts To An Opening Bid As Lawmakers Eye Looming Shutdown Threat

KHN Morning Briefing

The measure far exceeds President Donald Trump’s budget request for domestic programs, attracting a White House veto threat, and denies him his full Pentagon budget increase. It also contains policy “riders” related to abortion and other hot-button issues that drove away potential GOP supporters. Lawmakers face a series of deadlines this fall, the first of which is to avert a repeat of this year’s partial government shutdown.

In Debate Over What To Do About Surprise Medical Bills, Alexander Hints At Support For In-Network Guarantee

KHN Morning Briefing

Although many lawmakers agree that patients need to be protected from surprise medical bills, there are different ways that could go and many stakeholders who have strong opinions on what the solution should be. At a hearing on Wednesday, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander said that requiring hospitals to guarantee that any doctor a patient sees is in-network is the strategy he “intrinsically liked the best.” But the future of any legislation is still unclear.

House Dems Adopt Amendment Blocking Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban But It’s Unlikely To Survive Senate

KHN Morning Briefing

The vote came as the House debates a $1 trillion spending package. Meanwhile, the overall bill does include the Hyde amendment, which created a furor on the campaign trail just a few weeks ago. Some lawmakers pushed to have the language — which bans federal money from paying for abortions — removed, but were unsuccessful. Other news on Capitol Hill focuses on Medicaid, universal child care and the 9/11 victims fund.

Children’s Hospital To Halt Complex Heart Surgeries Following Shocking Report On Increase In Patients’ Deaths

KHN Morning Briefing

A New York Times investigation recently revealed North Carolina Children’s Hospital doctors’ concerns that their patients were dying even after simple surgeries. UNC administrators previously denied that there were any problems affecting patient care in the heart surgery program, but following the report the North Carolina secretary of health opened an investigation into the hospital.

As Inmate Suicide Rates Soar, Experts Blame ‘Culture Of Dismissiveness’ Toward Prison Mental Health Needs

KHN Morning Briefing

An investigation between The Associated Press and Capital News Service found serious problems with how inmates who have mental health struggles fare in local jails across the country. While experts call for better targeted response to inmates’ needs, local prisons already struggling to stay afloat and say “we’re not the nation’s psychologists.”

Will Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez Actually Produce A Bipartisan Bill On Birth Control? Dark Clouds In The Form Of Costs Threaten That Hope

KHN Morning Briefing

The odd pairing of conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) shocked the jaded Twittersphere with hints that they could work together on legislation for over-the-counter birth control. But the issue of costs already threatens to derail the duo. In other news from Capitol Hill: medical research on primates, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and tobacco, the Hyde amendment and the 9/11 victims fund.

Drugmakers Launch Legal Challenge To Trump Administration Rule On Putting Prices In TV Ads

KHN Morning Briefing

The companies that are suing the administration say that the requirements are unconstitutional and may also dissuade patients from seeking out needed medication. In making the rules, HHS says that if drugmakers are forced to show just how much they’re charging for the treatments, they may feel compelled to lower the costs.