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.

July 20, 2018

VIRGINIA

Sentara Norfolk General hits the halfway mark on the expansion project
(13 News Now – July 19, 2018)

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital has reached a milestone. From Tuesday to Friday, almost 200 patients are moving to the new Sentara hospital rooms. The move marks the hospital’s halfway point in its 5-year expansion project. This $199 million project includes modernizing 18 operating rooms, renovating the women's health space, and building a special care nursery.

'Healthcare is a team sport,' says Carilion Clinic CMO Dr. Patrice Weiss
(Becker’s Hospital Review – July 19, 2018)

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Patrice Weiss, MD, CMO and executive vice president of Carilion Clinic, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, both based in Roanoke, Va.

Va. Takes Lead In Sickle Cell Disease Relief
(Black News Portal – July 19, 2018)

Over 4,000 of the 100,000 people diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) live in Virginia. It’s a disease which causes the body’s normally soft round-shaped red blood cells to change to a hard sticky sickle or quarter-moon shape.

Virginia’s health care-acquired infection rates mirror national averages, but is that good enough?
(Virginia Mercury – July 18, 2018)

Jimi Suwaiti doesn’t remember much of the first few months of 2017, but her mother, Sharon Blackwell, does. Blackwell watched her 48-year-old daughter shake in her hospital bed in Virginia Beach because the pain from a bacterial infection was so terrible, and hallucinate, in her feverish state, that people were coming into her room.

‘What recourse do you have other than to write the check?’ Lawmakers scrutinize ‘balance-billing.’
(Virginia Mercury – July 19, 2018)

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for patients to protect themselves from surprise medical bills, and a Virginia legislative committee has the issue firmly in its crosshairs. As health care costs rise, patients are being asked to shoulder more of the burden. Some of that comes from a practice known as balance billing, when an out-of-network provider bills the patient for whatever their insurance company won’t pay.

The News & Advance Editorial: Taking Aim at America's Opioid Crisis
(The News & Advance – July 19, 2018)

Latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show drug overdose deaths continue their upward trajectory with little relief in sight. But the Lynchburg Police Department, with the aid of the Lynchburg Police Foundation, is taking steps to bend that curve downward locally.


OTHER STATES

Reversal: Kentucky Restoring Medicaid Benefits for Thousands
(Associated Press – July 19, 2018)

Dental and vision care benefits will be restored for hundreds of thousands of Medicaid recipients in a sudden reversal by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's administration following an outcry over the recent cuts. The coverage had been abruptly cut at the start of July after a federal judge rejected the Republican governor's plan to overhaul Kentucky's Medicaid program.

House moves to block DC's penalty on the uninsured
(Washington Examiner – July 19, 2018)

The District of Columbia would be blocked from fining people who do not have health insurance under a bill passed Thursday in the House. The House voted 217-199 to block the nation's capital from imposing an "individual mandate," a portion of Obamacare that carries a fine that will be zeroed out beginning in 2019.

California’s ACA Rates To Rise 8.7% Next Year
(California Healthline – July 19, 2018)

Premiums in California’s health insurance exchange will rise by an average of 8.7 percent next year, marking a return to more modest increases despite ongoing threats to the Affordable Care Act. The state marketplace, Covered California, said the rate increase for 2019 would have been closer to 5 percent if the federal penalty for going without health coverage had not been repealed in last year’s Republican tax bill.

Maryland's price transparency site adds new data, petition
(Modern Healthcare – July 19, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

The Maryland Health Care Commission updated its price transparency website Thursday with new cost and quality data and a petition that lobbies providers and insurers to reveal their costs. Wearthecost.org aims to inform consumers about wide variation in price and quality of care in hospitals across Maryland and spur high-cost hospitals to lower their prices.

Long Waits To See Doctors In Puerto Rico, Where Medical Needs Are Great Post-Maria
(Kaiser Health News – July 20, 2018)

Physicians are in short supply in Puerto Rico. From 2006 to 2016, the number of doctors on the island declined from 14,000 to 9,000, according the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Puerto Rico. And Hurricane Maria has helped fuel the exodus.


MISCELLANEOUS

Drug Firms Blame Opioid Crisis on Illicit Websites, Dealers
(Bloomberg – July 19, 2018)

Two pharmaceutical companies say the real culprits in the opioids epidemic are illegal dealers of the painkillers and want them to be on the hook financially for any damages potentially assessed against drugmakers. Endo International Plc and Mallinckrodt Plc sued a host of convicted drug dealers and Internet sites this week for illegally offering opioids.

When medication is essential to mental health
(The Outline – July 19, 2018)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 44.7 million adults in the U.S. currently live with mental illness, 19.2 million of whom are receiving treatment in the form of counseling and prescription medication. Still, in casual conversation, the mentally ill are often derided. Phrases like “what are you, off your meds?” and “stop acting crazy” serve as reminders that mentally ill people are considered lesser beings.


REFORM

Report: ER claims denials spiked in 3 states following Anthem’s controversial policy
(FierceHealthcare – July 20, 2018)

Anthem’s ER claims denials increased sharply last year following an announcement that the insurer would restrict coverage for what it deemed to be nonemergent visits. But those denials have plummeted this year after Anthem scaled back its policy following blowback from physician groups and lawmakers, according to a new report.

A Health Insurer Tells Patients It Won’t Pay Their E.R. Bills, but Then Pays Them Anyway
(The New York Times – July 19, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

The health insurer Anthem is coming under intense criticism for denying claims for emergency room visits it has deemed unwarranted. A new congressional report suggests Anthem has effectively reversed that policy, even as it is being hit with a new lawsuit about it from doctors.

Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions
(The Hill – July 20, 2018)

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Friday tore into President Trump and the Republican Party, saying that the GOP under Trump "no longer deserves to survive" and accusing them of being blinded by a "tribal" mindset.

Doctors and Health Workers Reflect on Rural America’s Limited Access to Care
(The New York Times – July 19, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

Kela Abernathy’s urgent ride to the Missouri hospital where she would give birth to premature twins covered 100 miles, took nearly four hours, and featured one stop at a hospital that couldn’t help because its labor and delivery ward was defunct.

Hospitals are flirting with Medicare for All
(Modern Healthcare – July 19, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

House Democrats on Thursday launched a 66-member Medicare for All caucus, which includes hospitals as some of its private industry supporters, according to the group's founder. Several community health centers have publicly endorsed a move toward a single-payer system, according to caucus founder Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Opinion: Why health care is making Republicans’ challenge in November even harder
(The Washington Post – July 19, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

When you’re the party in power, you can take credit for things you may not have had much to do with, such as a strong economy. You might also be blamed for problems you didn’t have much to do with, such as a sudden recession. But can you avoid blame for problems you definitely made worse? When it comes to health care, that’s what Republicans are hoping to pull off this November.

Opinion: An ObamaCare Tax Worth Keeping
(The Wall Street Journal – July 19, 2018) SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED

House Republicans want to pass a bill delaying ObamaCare’s 40% excise tax on high-cost employer plans—the “Cadillac tax”—by another year, to 2023. GOP hostility to this tax is a mistake. Keeping it would promote market-based health care more than killing it.