VHHA will update Newsclips every weekday with relevant national and statewide health care news. Click on a headline below to view the article on that news organization’s website. Please note that access to some articles will require registration on that website, most of which are free. If you have items of particular interest you would like to see posted here, please contact VHHA.

FEBRUARY 24, 2017


Groundbreaking held Friday for $44.5M hospital expansion
(Gazette Journal – February 22, 2017)

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday on the Riverside Walter Reed Hospital campus in Gloucester for a $44.5 million construction and renovation project.  The multi-phase project includes some work that has been recently completed as well as other substantial improvements that are expected to be finished over the next couple of years, according to Megan K. Crain, vice president and administrator of RWRH.

To help curb the spread of flu, Novant Health is asking the community for assistance
(Culpeper Star-Exponent – February 23, 2017)

Out of concern for the health and well-being of its patients, Novant Health is asking the community to keep visitors age 12 and under out of all of its hospital facilities—including Novant Health UVA Health System Culpeper Medical Center—due to the widespread outbreak of the flu virus. This restriction is effective on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7 a.m. until further notice.

Ensuring a healthy heart
(The News Virginian – February 23, 2017)

Testing, screening and being proactive are good ways to check up on and hopefully maintain a healthy heart. Augusta Health assisted the community with this during their “Heart Health Fair” on Thursday afternoon.  The fair included free screenings, demonstrations and information about heart health and related chronic diseases. Augusta Health has hosted the annual fair since 2010.

C-suite gender gap: Leadership training efforts falling short
(Modern Healthcare – February 24, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

The roadblocks sometimes start at home. Women still carry the brunt of caregiving responsibilities for children and elderly parents. This can prevent them from advancing to senior leadership roles, said Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic in Virginia since 2011 and one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare for 2017. Agee last year was also named chair-elect designate of the American Hospital Association.

McAuliffe signs bills aimed at stemming opioid epidemic
(Associated Press – February 23, 2017)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed a set of bills that aim to stem Virginia’s growing opioid epidemic. McAuliffe’s office said in a statement Thursday that among the measures he signed into law is one allowing community organizations to possess and dispense naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug. Another measure mandates that all opioid prescriptions be transmitted to pharmacies electronically by 2020.


Why Hospitals Should Treat Adults Like Children
(The Wall Street Journal – February 23, 2017) SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED

A stay in the hospital isn’t always good for your health. Bright lights, loud noises, sleep deprivation, frequent blood draws and other painful procedures are among the stressors that can take a toll on patients—and might even make them more vulnerable to other health threats once they are discharged, researchers theorize.

Fatal drug overdoses in US on the rise, CDC says
(STAT – February 24, 2017)

Fatal drug overdoses continued their depressing climb in 2015, while the opioid crisis shifts from taking lives with painkillers like oxycodone to more lethal compounds like heroin and fentanyl, new data released Friday show.

Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2015
(CDC – February 2017)

Deaths from drug overdose have been identified as a significant public health burden in the United States in recent years. This report uses data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to highlight recent trends in drug overdose deaths, describing demographic and geographic patterns as well as the types of drugs involved.

Many people keep taking prescription opioids during addiction treatment
(The Washington Post – February 23, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

The grip of opioid addiction is so strong that many people who undergo treatment relapse repeatedly. Now a study by Johns Hopkins University researchers offers new clues about why treatment is so difficult. The researchers discovered that 43 percent of people receiving buprenorphine, a widely used anti-addiction medication, filled at least one prescription for opioids — which they presumably consumed or diverted to others.

Duke Health scientists identify proteins in mucous that confirm viral infection
(News Medical – February 22, 2017)

It may seem obvious, but the key to confirming whether someone is suffering from a cold or flu virus might lie at the misery’s source — the inflamed passages of the nose and throat. Duke Health scientists have identified a group of proteins that, when detected in specific quantities in the mucous, are 86 percent accurate in confirming the infection is from a cold or flu virus, according to a small, proof-of-concept trial published online in the journal EBioMedicine.

Biotech’s next big Alzheimer’s test will answer a ‘$25 billion question’
(STAT+ News – February 22, 2017) SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED

Moving on from biopharma’s latest setback in Alzheimer’s disease — and the four that preceded it last year — the industry is turning its attention to a tiny pill made by a small company with hopes to succeed where so many have failed.


Boehner: Republicans won’t repeal and replace Obamacare
(POLITICO – February 23, 2017)

Former House Speaker John Boehner predicted on Thursday that a full repeal and replace of Obamacare is “not what’s going to happen” and that Republicans will instead just make some fixes to the health care law. Boehner, who retired in 2015 amid unrest among conservatives, said at an Orlando healthcare conference that GOP lawmakers were too optimistic in their talk of quickly repealing and then replacing Obamacare.

Republican-Led States Push to Reshape Their Medicaid Programs
(The Wall Street Journal – February 23, 2017) SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED

A growing number of Republican state leaders, not content to wait as Congress struggles to repeal the Affordable Care Act and overhaul Medicaid, are mobilizing in an effort to reshape how health care is delivered in their states.

GOP healthcare plans push health savings account expansion
(The Hill – February 22, 2017)

As Republicans struggle to coalesce around an ObamaCare replacement plan, they generally agree on one thing: It should expand access to health savings accounts.  HSAs — special accounts for medical expenses that come with tax breaks — have long been a cornerstone of Republican healthcare plans.

Experts Question GOP Approach to Pre-Existing Health Conditions
(Morning Consult – February 23, 2017)

A key plank of the House GOP’s blueprint to replace the Affordable Care Act would fail to provide adequate health insurance to people with existing medical conditions without substantial state or federal funding, according to veteran health care officials and experts.

Will CMS’ decision to extend non-ACA compliant plans help or hurt the market?
(Modern Healthcare – February 23, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

The Trump administration will allow insurers and consumers to extend for an additional year individual and small-group health plans that do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s coverage rules. The insurance industry lobbied for the grandmothering extension.

Health care’s future: Turning patients into savers, shoppers
(Associated Press – February 22, 2017)

The U.S. government may soon lean on someone new to help lower health care costs: you. The idea is that when your money is on the line — and not the insurance company’s — you’ll look for the best value and do your part to curb national health care spending. The Affordable Care Act’s fate is up in the air as President Donald Trump and Congress weigh plans to overhaul the law.

Cancer can bankrupt its victims. Obamacare was designed to stop that.
(Vox – February 23, 2017)

Julienne Edwards was 26, five days away from taking the California bar exam and 14 months away from her wedding, when she felt a twinge in her stomach. The throbbing grew sharper, like a knife puncturing her gut, so Edwards went to the hospital to get help. It was the beginning of a nightmare.

VP Pence: ‘America’s Obamacare nightmare is about to end’
(The Washington Post – February 23, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

Vice President Pence forcefully defended on Thursday night the Trump administration’s plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, saying the law known as Obamacare is a “nightmare” and that the administration is committed to “an orderly transition” to a new health-care system.

JAMA Forum: Replacing ACA Would Harm Economically Vulnerable Persons and the Health Care Safety Net
(news@JAMA – February 20, 2017)

The US Congress recently took its first steps toward repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Congressional Budget Office projected that repeal would increase the number of uninsured by 18 million people initially, and by 27 million after funding for Medicaid expansion and subsidies are eliminated. Repealing the ACA also threatens the safety net critical to health care access for economically vulnerable individuals and families.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: Future Directions for the ACA and Medicaid
(Kaiser Family Foundation – February 24, 2017)

The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds attitudes towards the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have shifted with a larger share reporting a favorable opinion towards the law (48 percent) than reporting an unfavorable opinion (42 percent). This is the highest level of favorability of the ACA measured in more than 60 Kaiser Health Tracking Polls since 2010 and is largely driven by a change in the views of independents, among which 50 percent now view the law favorably.

Support for 2010 health care law reaches new high
(Pew Research Center – February 23, 2017)

With congressional Republicans discussing proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act, public support for the 2010 health care law has reached its highest level on record. Currently, 54% approve of the health care law passed seven years ago by Barack Obama and Congress, while 43% disapprove, according to a national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 7-12 among 1,503 adults.

Opinion: The ObamaCare Holdouts
(The Wall Street Journal – February 23, 2017) SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED

Republicans are getting battered at town halls on ObamaCare, with constituents—or least protestors—yelling about the benefits they’ll lose if the entitlement is repealed. But maybe the better measure of public sentiment is the choices that the people who are subject to ObamaCare have made in practice.