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March 19, 2018


Hanger thinks expanded Medicaid could be part of final budget
(The News Virginian – March 17, 2018)

Sen. Emmett Hanger said he believes a final Virginia state budget can include Medicaid expansion. But Hanger, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a budget conferee, said accepting the federal funds for Medicaid expansion must be done without taxing Virginia hospitals. The General Assembly adjourned Saturday without approving a final budget.

With Some Republican Support, Virginia Edges Closer To Medicaid Expansion
(WCVE – March 16, 2018)

Virginia is among 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But this year, the state legislature is closer to enacting expansion than it has been in the past, and the issue will be the sticking point as the legislature goes into a special session next month to hash out its budget. Republican Del. Barry Knight from the Virginia Beach area calls it “the 800-pound gorilla in the room.” He’s one of more than a dozen Republicans who voted to include Medicaid expansion in the House budget — along with a work requirement — this year.

Daily Press Editorial: Clear path for commonwealth
(Daily Press – March 17, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

The House and Senate in Richmond must get priorities straight and give us a budget for all Virginians. Our General Assembly gathers again in 24 days, on April 11, for a second run at writing the state budget for the next two years. It’s a big task — the budget runs for 500-plus very dense pages — that tackles some of the most important issues we ask our elected officials to address: the education of our children, care for the most vulnerable, our safety.

The News & Advance Editorial: We've Been Here Before: Budget Impasse 2018
(The News & Advance – March 18, 2018)

The Virginia Constitution places a single requirement on the General Assembly: the responsibility to pass a balanced biennial budget for the commonwealth. For the fourth time in the last 14 years, that task has proved too much for the 140 members of the state Senate and the House of Delegates.

Sentara RMH increasing efficiency
(WHSV – March 16, 2018)

Sentara RMH is completing renovations to a section of the emergency department this week. The renovations are expected to improve the experience of patients as well as the staff at the hospital by allowing staff to work more efficiently and improve work flow.

Roanoke city plans to establish an innovation hub
(WDBJ 7 – March 18, 2018)

Roanoke City council announced its strategy to increase focus on innovation and economic inclusion. As Roanoke's downtown continues to develop, so do other areas around the city. Roanoke city council wants to establish innovation hub between Carilion Clinic and the edge of downtown. "Which would allow us to marshall the different resources of Carilion, Virginia Tech, the city and other partners into something that would keep track of innovation, entrepreneurship, and things like that," said Marc Nelson, Roanoke Economic Development.

Children’s Hospital of King’s Daughters Announces New Mental Health Initiative
(Idea Stations – March 16, 2018)

The National Institute of Mental Health says one in five children will experience serious mental health issues, but 75% of them will not receive the care they need. And In Norfolk this week, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters announced plans for a proposed $50 million dollar psychiatric center.

Valley Health Deciding What to Build Near WMC
(The River 95.3 – March 18, 2018)

Valley Health is beginning work on a 94-acre property on the west side of Va. 37, even as its officials continue to deliberate on what exactly should be built there. The site is located between the new surgery center and the Winchester Medical Center interchange; Valley Health purchased it in 2000, and sold a parcel along U.S. 50 to Marriott.

Dickenson files suit over opioid epidemic
(Bristol Herald Courier – March 16, 2018)

Dickenson County and Alexandria, Virginia, are the first local governments in the state to file lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and related businesses claiming they perpetuated the opioid epidemic. The suits, filed Wednesday in circuit court in those localities, claim the defendants have “caused an opioid epidemic that has resulted in economic, social and emotional damage to virtually every community in the United States and tens of thousands of Americans.”

Only one former inmate who was released from Henrico opiate recovery program has been arrested again
(Richmond Times-Dispatch – March 18, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

John Novak says there’s a common thread among the numerous criminal charges he’s faced over the years. “The majority of it stems from heroin,” Novak said during an interview at Henrico County Jail West. “Pretty much everything is related to that or alcohol.”

Medical school’s fifth Match Day a perfect match
(Virginia Tech – March 18, 2018)

It was a nail biter inside a packed auditorium at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Friday, not because of college basketball choices, but because of medical students’ picks for residency programs. When the suspense ended, all 41 members of the school’s class of 2018 matched. It was the school’s fifth Match Day and the fifth time that its match rate was 100 percent.

WATCH: UVA Medical Students Learn Their Residency Placement
(NBC 29 – March 16, 2018)

More than 100 fourth-year medical students can now breathe a sigh of relief. They now know where they will complete their medical residency.

Alan Levine: Guest Commentary: Merger helps define region's economic development
(Johnson City Press – March 18, 2018)

Since the beginning of Ballad Health last month, our teams throughout the region have continued to do what they do best — listen to the stories of our neighbors and serve their healthcare needs. Despite that, it is a challenging time for hospitals throughout the nation; more than 80 rural hospitals have closed and in the last few months, three major national mergers of health systems were announced, each one leading to the loss of local identity for hundreds of community hospitals, with decisions about the healthcare in those communities being made from offices far away.


Medicaid Expansion in Arkansas Continues Evolution, Adds Work Requirement
(Health Affairs – March 16, 2018)

Arkansas recently became the third state to receive approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement a work requirement for Medicaid adults. The hand-delivered approval follows the department’s endorsement of work requirements submitted by Kentucky and Indiana and comes ahead of action on similar requests from a host of other states, including Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Maryland hospitals on-track to meet federal requirements for 'all-payer' model
(Washington Business Journal – March 16, 2018)

Maryland hospitals continue to demonstrate low cost of care increases under the state's unique payment model that incentivizes quality over quantity of care, new data shows. Maryland began piloting a new payment structure for state hospitals in January 2014, known as the "all-payer model."

Kentucky bid to tax prescription opioids is dropped
(Associated Press – March 16, 2018)

The Kentucky Senate will reject a proposed first-in-the-nation tax on prescription opioids, with the chamber’s top Republican leader saying the idea has too many legal problems for it to be in the foundation of a two-year state spending plan.

CT Hospital Patients Frustrated After Cerner EHR Implementation
(EHR Intelligence – March 15, 2018)

Patients at Danbury Hospital have raised several complaints about scheduling problems, delays in care delivery, and difficulties obtaining medical services two weeks after the part of the health system Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) completed a Cerner EHR implementation.



New bad debt accounting standards likely to remake community benefit reporting
(Modern Healthcare – March 17, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

It's the end of bad debt as we know it. A new accounting standard dramatically narrows what hospitals can report as bad debt, or payments they anticipated but never received. The majority of what used to qualify as bad debt won't be reported as such under new U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, which most health systems started using Jan. 1. That could throw a wrench into how hospitals report their community benefits.

Rapid rise in hospital-employed physicians increases costs
(Modern Healthcare – March 16, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

Wilmington Health is approached by a potential buyer about twice a year. Each time, the North Carolina-based independent physician group declines, according to CEO Jeff James. "What we can't understand is the value proposition for the physicians in the long run," James said. "If they buy us, it is going to add a bunch of overhead and increase the cost of care."

Hospital rooms in 9 countries around the world reveal the global disparity in healthcare
(Business Insider – March 18, 2018)

From the most high-tech infectious disease units in Berlin to ad-hoc vaccination clinics in rural Sierra Leone, there's a huge disparity in the quality of healthcare around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 400 million people worldwide don't have access to basic medical services like immunization, prenatal care, and antibiotics. For those who do have access, healthcare can still be prohibitively expensive.

Take This App and Call Me in the Morning
(The New York Times – March 18, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

Health tech companies are making a big push to digitize medicine, introducing novel tools like digital pills that track when patients take their drugs and smart spoons that can automatically adjust to hand tremors. Now they want some patients to get prescription treatments from the app store as well.

A Quiet Drug Problem Among the Elderly
(The New York Times – March 16, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

At first, the pills helped her feel so much better. Jessica Falstein, an artist living in the East Village in Manhattan, learned she had an anxiety disorder in 1992. It led to panic attacks, a racing pulse, sleeplessness. “Whenever there was too much stress, the anxiety would become almost intolerable, like acid in the veins,” she recalled.

WaPo Editorial: The best strategy on opioids isn’t an enforcement sledgehammer
(The Washington Post – March 18, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

Halving talked a good game for months about the nation’s opioid crisis, the Trump administration seems finally on the brink of unveiling a plan that might lend muscle to its repeated promises to tackle an epidemic that killed more than 40,000 Americans in 2016. If, however, the president indulges his instinct to attack the problem mainly with an enforcement sledgehammer — for instance by pressing for the death penalty for drug dealers — he is likely to grab headlines but do little to reverse what has become a national calamity.


Obamacare insurers just had their best year ever — despite Trump
(POLITICO – March 17, 2018)

Obamacare is no longer busting the bank for insurers. After three years of financial bloodletting under the law — and despite constant repeal threats and efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle it — many of the remaining insurers made money on individual health plans for the first time last year, according to a POLITICO analysis of financial filings for 29 regional Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, often the dominant player in their markets.

Week ahead: Crunch time on push for ObamaCare fix
(The Hill – March 19, 2018)

The coming week will be the moment of truth for a bipartisan ObamaCare fix. Backers are pushing to have the proposal to stabilize markets and reduce premiums included in the government funding bill, which faces a March 23 deadline. But the measure faces serious challenges that have many thinking it is unlikely to make it into the package.

Back to the Health Policy Drawing Board
(The New York Times – March 16, 2018) METERED PAYWALL

The Affordable Care Act needs help. After scores of failed repeal attempts, Congress enacted legislation late last year that eliminated one of the law’s central features, the mandate requiring people to buy insurance. Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is widely known, isn’t in imminent danger of collapse, but the mandate’s repeal poses a serious long-term threat.