VHHA will update Newsclips each 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.

June 23, 2017


State says Senate health plan puts Virginia at disadvantage, ‘harsher’ than House proposal
(Richmond Times-Dispatch – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

Virginia legislative budget leaders had a quick response to a new health care plan proposed by Republicans in the U.S. Senate — please don’t do what you just did. The Republican co-chairmen of the Joint Subcommittee for Health and Human Resources Oversight said Thursday that the Senate’s current proposal “fails to address the inequities in the federal funding allocation between states” for the Medicaid program that Virginia has operated in partnership with the federal government for a half-century.

Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association Updates Quality and Patient Safety Scorecards
(Alexandria News – June 22, 2017)

Virginia’s local hospitals and health systems are dedicated to delivering positive patient outcomes by providing high-quality care to all they serve. Achieving those goals requires commitment, vigilance, and self-assessment to identify opportunities for improvement. To help with that process, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association maintains Quality & Patient Safety Scorecards – an interactive, online tool that enables users to review data showing hospital-specific performance on key quality, safety, and patient satisfaction measures.

Retreat Doctors’ Hospital Expands Services with Opening of Center for Emotional Growth
(OurHealth Richmond – June 22, 2017)

HCA Virginia’s Retreat Doctors’ Hospital has announced the opening of the Retreat Doctors’ Hospital Center for Emotional Growth. The Center for Emotional Growth uses evidence-based practice to provide engaging treatments and foster positive outcomes for patients suffering from mental health-related issues.

Lee County hospital board seeks to ease concerns about health center reopening
(The Roanoke Times – June 22, 2017)

The Lee County Hospital Authority members on Thursday brushed aside any concerns they might have had about a startup company’s ability to reopen the community’s hospital. After meeting in a closed session with their attorney and Americore Health CEO Grant White, board vice chairman Ronnie Montgomery said they expect to have a final financial agreement worked out within a few weeks.

Proposed Medicaid cuts could impact Hampton Roads’ schools
(Daily Press – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

Millions of federal dollars that help special needs children receive services they need to attend public school could be cut in the proposed health care bill released Thursday by Senate Republicans. The similar House-approved American Health Care Act and President Donald Trump’s proposed budget could cut Medicaid spending by $1.3 trillion over the next decade, a report from U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine’s office said Wednesday.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates trade barbs over Senate health care bill
(The Washington Post – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

The federal debate over overhauling the American health-care system is seeping into Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, with both candidates trading barbs over the bill unveiled by Senate leadership on Thursday. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee, blasted his Republican opponent Ed Gillespie, a former lobbyist and Republican National Committee chair, for what he called silence in the face of an “irresponsible effort” that would put thousands Virginians health care “at risk.”

Local senators react to health care bill
(Bristol Herald-Courier – June 23, 2017)

Virginia’s two Democratic U.S. senators were quick to blast the proposed health care bill on Thursday while Tennessee’s two Republican senators said there’s a need to repeal and resolve the Affordable Care Act currently in place. On Thursday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced the health care bill that would overhaul the American health care system.

Kaine talks health care during visit to Free Clinic of Culpeper
(Culpeper Times – June 21, 2017)

Brenda Roy doesn’t have health insurance. A lifelong Culpeper resident, Roy, 59, only had one place to turn – The Free Clinic of Culpeper. Since she started to coming to the clinic two years ago, Roy has seen her health return and the clinic helped her get her blood pressure issues under control. She told her story last Friday to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., during his visit to the Free Clinic.

News & Advance Editorial: A System of Mental Care That’s Broken
(The News & Advance – June 23, 2017)

Virginia’s mental health care system is an embarrassment, a ticking time bomb, a human tragedy waiting to happen. We’ve known it since April 2007 when a mentally disturbed student who slipped through the cracks in Virginia’s mental health care system shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, still the most deadly school mass shooting in United States history.


Provider Rating Systems Can and Should Be Better
(NEJM – June 14, 2017)

Hospital and physician rating systems, such as Medicare’s Hospital Compare, U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Hospitals,” and ProPublica’s Surgeon Scorecard, have been variously praised and pilloried by different stakeholders. Proponents of such rating systems argue that patients and families deserve information about the quality of care provided by their hospitals and physicians, even if imperfect.

Opioids Given to Almost 1 in 4 Medicaid Patients, Study Finds
(Bloomberg – June 21, 2017)

Nearly one in four people on Medicaid, the U.S. health program for the poor, received powerful and addictive opioid pain medicines in 2015, according to research by a drug-benefits management firm. The analysis by Express Scripts Holding Co., one of the largest managers of Medicaid plans’ drug benefits for the past two decades, found that about 6 percent of all prescriptions in the program were for the pain pills.

A text message helped one of my patients stay in control of his health. Here’s how
(STAT News – June 23, 2017)

As a new doctor, I’ve learned that the best patient care happens as often outside of the hospital as inside. While we treat sick people and get them tuned up, each patient’s opportunity to get better and stay better often depends on their access to resources beyond clinical walls.

Hunting for Antibiotics in the World’s Dirtiest Places
(The Atlantic – July 2017)

On a chilly autumn morning in northwest London, just outside the Euston train station, Adam Roberts stops at the top of an outdoor staircase, looks around for police, and tries to appear inconspicuous. This is harder than it sounds, and not only because he’s 6 foot 3.

In a medical first, ‘long read’ DNA sequencing solves a diagnostic mystery

It was exactly the kind of medical mystery that has yielded to genome sequencing. From age 7, Ricky Ramon’s body had sprouted tumor after (non-cancerous) tumor: in his heart and his pituitary gland, his adrenal glands and his thyroid.

Michael Dowling: The health system’s role amid rural and community hospitals’ financial crisis
(Becker’s Hospital Review – June 20, 2017)

Hospitals of all sizes and in all regions must find ways to become more fiscally efficient as reimbursements from government and commercial payers continue to decline. But while larger health systems typically have a greater financial cushion, many independent rural and community hospitals have increasingly found themselves imperiled in the current healthcare climate.


Senate Health Bill Would Revamp Medicaid, Alter ACA Guarantees, Cut Premium Support
(Kaiser Health News – June 22, 2017)

Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Thursday unveiled a bill that would dramatically transform the nation’s Medicaid program, make significant changes to the federal health law’s tax credits that help lower-income people buy insurance and allow states to water down changes to some of the law’s coverage guarantees.

Senate ACA repeal bill includes tighter Medicaid caps than House version
(Modern Healthcare – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

Senate Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cap federal Medicaid spending even more tightly than the repeal bill narrowly passed by House Republicans last month. A “discussion draft” released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday morning could cap federal payments to the states for most beneficiaries at the medical component of the Consumer Price Index starting in 2020.

AHA Statement on the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017
(AHA News – June 22, 2017)

From the onset of this debate, America’s hospitals and health systems have been guided by a set of key principles that would protect coverage for Americans. Unfortunately, the draft bill under discussion in the Senate moves in the opposite direction, particularly for our most vulnerable patients. The Senate proposal would likely trigger deep cuts to the Medicaid program that covers millions of Americans with chronic conditions such as cancer, along with the elderly and individuals with disabilities who need long-term services and support.

Hospital groups slam health care bill released by Senate
(STAT News – June 22, 2017)

Hospitals panned the Senate’s latest health reform efforts on Thursday, blasting the chamber’s newly released draft legislation as a draconian and devastating contraction of funds that support health care for low-income Americans and children. Every major hospital association criticized the draft, including the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and America’s Essential Hospitals. AHA and FAH both called for the Senate to scrap its draft and start over.

Four GOP Senators Not Ready to Support Obamacare Repeal Bill
(Morning Consult – June 22, 2017)

Four conservative GOP senators on Thursday withheld their support for the Senate’s health care bill, saying it does not go far enough in overhauling the Affordable Care Act, leaving the legislation’s passage in doubt. Republicans are aiming to vote by June 30 on the measure, which would revamp one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and they can afford to lose only two votes to ensure passage.

Where Senators Stand on the Health Care Bill
(The New York Times – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

Senate Republican leaders unveiled their bill on Thursday to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It needs at least 50 votes to pass (Vice President Mike Pence could cast a tie-breaking vote). Read what the bill would do. Every Democrat is expected to oppose the bill, which means three Republican “no” votes would block it.

Trump Is ‘Very Supportive’ of Senate Health Care Bill
(Roll Call – June 22, 2017)

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday evening that he is “very supportive” of the health care bill crafted by Senate Republican leadership, departing from an earlier more cautious approach by his White House communications team.

Hospital stocks rally on Senate reform bill
(Modern Healthcare – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

Hospital stock prices jumped on Thursday as investors reacted to the Senate’s proposal for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Shares of Tenet Healthcare Corp. were up 7%, or $1.22, to $18.90 on the day. Community Health Systems’ shares rose 5% to $9.27.

How ACA, AHCA and BCRA compare
(Modern Healthcare – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

The Better Care Reconciliation Act, like the American Health Care Act, radically revises Medicaid, but it is closer to the Affordable Care Act on how it approaches subsidies to buy individual insurance. Both the House and Senate bills eliminate taxes that paid the costs to cover more people through Medicaid and to subsidize individual plans.

Humana Out of Individual Market, With or Without Obamacare Repeal
(The New York Times – June 22, 2017) METERED PAYWALL

Humana Inc will not return to the individual insurance market after it exits the Obamacare exchanges this year, a market that Republicans are trying to repeal and replace through new legislation, Humana’s top executive said on Thursday.

WSJ Opinion: The Senate’s Health-Care Advance
(The Wall Street Journal – June 22, 2017) SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED

Senate Republicans released their draft bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare on Thursday, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping for a vote next week. The binary choice now is between pushing past the media and Democratic flak to pass a historic achievement, or wilting under the pressure and ratifying the ObamaCare status quo.