October 3, 2017
Short list for Price replacement gets shorter
Several of the names floated to replace former HHS Secretary Tom Price can now be crossed off of the list. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN 7th) and Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) have all reportedly taken themselves out of the running. Leading candidates include CMS Administrator Seema Verma, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and former Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal.
States are trying to pick up slack on children’s health coverage
States are rushing to find ways to keep CHIP programs afloat since Congress failed to meet the September 30 renewal deadline. Without federal support, at least 10 states will entirely deplete their CHIP funds by the end of the year. If Congress does not approve federal funding for CHIP before year’s end, many state officials have said they will be forced to terminate enrollment in the beginning of next year or attempt to shift eligible children to other government insurance programs. CHIP provides health coverage for 9 million children across the country.
Some Republicans are proposing bundling Puerto Rico emergency response funding with the CHIP reauthorization bill, allocating $1 billion in extra Medicaid funding as the U.S. territory continues to deal with hurricane damage.
CBO to release score for Graham-Cassidy bill
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is still expected to publish a full analysis of the Graham-Cassidy bill. Senator Cassidy (R-LA) believes that the report could help dispel some of the criticism surrounding the legislation. The CBO last week released a preliminary analysis of the measure but said a full examination could take weeks.
Medical bills score important to consumers
From the public’s view, the medical bills score – the share of the public having trouble paying health care bills – is the most important measure of a health plan. Health care is a pocketbook issue for most of the public, and the medical bills score will be used to evaluate any future health care reform proposals. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly 60 percent of people who are sick have problems paying medical bills, which is telling of how our health care system preforms for those who need care most. The poll also concludes that much of the public will be disappointed by health reform unless they receive help in covering medical costs.
The cost of gun violence
Every year, gunshot wounds cost Americans $2.8 billion in hospital bills, according to a new analysis in Health Affairs. The researchers collected numbers representing more than 704,000 people who visited hospitals to treat gunshot wounds between 2006 and 2014, finding emergency department costs averaged $5,254 per patient and the subsequent inpatient charges totaled nearly $96,000 on average per patient. The nearly $3 billion in annual treatment costs says little of the financial, practical and emotional costs of gun deaths, which total around 34,000 people per year.
VA issues proposed rule for home-based telehealth for veterans
The Veterans Administration (VA) proposed a new rule that would expand telehealth services by waiving state license requirements and allowing telehealth visits across state lines. Veterans can use a mobile app called VA Video Connect to conduct home videoconferencing sessions with a VA provider. The rule would also authorize the VA Secretary to waive the collection of copayments for telehealth visits. The changes will allow the VA to use limited resources more efficiently.
Federal cuts to NY hospitals take effect
On Sunday, Federal cuts around Disproportionate Share Hospital (D.S.H.) payments, which help hospitals offset the cost of serving poor and uninsured patients, took effect in New York hospitals. Budget officials said the cuts would result in a loss of $1 billion to hospitals around the state over the next 18 months. At the same time, the state is being accused of withholding money owed to NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest provider of “safety-net” care in New York. These 11 public hospitals will run out of funding in two weeks because they have not received $380 million still owed to them by the state for serving more than 1 million patients, many of whom were uninsured.
Steward Health’s takeover of Iasis is official
Boston-based provider Steward Health Care closed a deal on its $2 billion acquisition of Iasis Healthcare, which expands Steward’s total assets to 36 hospitals across 10 different states with an estimated revenue of almost $8 billion. The deal makes Steward the largest private hospital operator in the country. The merger follows a trend of similar deals happening more frequently over the past year.
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