Lawmakers take drug industry to task over pricing | 12.7M Americans sign up for coverage under ACA, Burwell says | Hospitals take steps to reduce preventable errors
February 5, 2016
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Lawmakers take drug industry to task over pricing
Lawmakers on Thursday criticized Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and Turing Pharmaceuticals over dramatic price increases in a hearing, calling the moves "a black eye" on the industry. Valeant interim CEO Howard Schiller expressed some regret over the increases, saying future price changes will align with industry norms. Former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli did not answer questions. MedPage Today (free registration) (2/4)
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12.7M Americans sign up for coverage under ACA, Burwell says
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced Thursday that about 12.7 million Americans signed up for health care coverage through Affordable Care Act exchanges, up from last year's final tally of 11.7 million. The number fell within the range of federal estimates and included 2.7 million people ages 18 to 34. The federal exchange garnered 5.6 million return customers and almost 4 million first-time enrollees, Burwell said. Reuters (2/4), Bloomberg (2/4)
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Sharing Knowledge to Improve Healthcare Administration
This new content series, sponsored by RAM Technologies, features keen insight and analysis from leading experts to help healthcare payers prepare for the future. The first report in the series, "Business Drivers of Technology Decisions for Healthcare Payers, 2016" (licensed from Gartner) will provide you with valuable insight into the business drivers and IT investment priorities that will help you thrive in government-sponsored healthcare. CLICK HERE to access the report.
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Hospitals take steps to reduce preventable errors
US hospitals are making efforts to reduce the occurrence of preventable errors through programs that encourage hand hygiene, provide care that prevents pressure ulcers and blood clots in immobile patients, detect sepsis early, and prevent falls. For hospitals to establish a culture of safety, nurses must be able to correct physicians, clinicians must be able to talk about mistakes, and patients and their loves ones must be engaged in care, David Bornstein writes. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (2/2)
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Survey: Physicians often don't probe emotional ills
A new Massachusetts survey shows that primary care physicians ask patients about depression and other emotional problems about half the time. Because behavioral problems can cause physical illnesses to worsen and identifying depression early can boost treatment effectiveness, it's important to address this issue, said Barbra Rabson, president of Massachusetts Health Quality Partners. Physicians noted there are barriers to screening because other demands limit their time and specialists may not be available to manage a diagnosis. The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model) (2/2)
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Data Security and HIPAA Compliance in Mid-sized Healthcare Organizations
The 21st century is facing an uphill battle for better data security, and the healthcare industry is at the front lines. Healthcare providers deal with tremendous amounts of sensitive, legally protected data labeled protected health information (PHI), which requires certain security measures as defined by HIPAA. Learn how to ensure that all PHI is handled, transferred and stored properly.

Medical Update
Studies link smoking bans to lower CVD hospital admissions
An analysis of observational studies from 21 countries found programs that prohibit smoking at worksites and in public places to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke appear to have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease, according to a report in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016. Researchers said the studies linked national smoking bans to fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks and acute coronary syndrome, and several studies found nonsmokers may reap the biggest health benefits. MedPage Today (free registration) (2/3)
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Research suggests depression raises cardiovascular risks in seniors
A French study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that seniors with severe depression face an increased likelihood of heart disease or stroke over 10 years. Findings were based on more than 7,300 seniors who were assessed on four occasions. Those who had high levels of depression symptoms in one visit had 15% greater risk of heart disease or stroke, those who showed symptoms of depression at all four visits faced a 75% increased risk. HealthDay News (2/4)
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Emerging Trends
"Automating empathy" a growing trend in US hospitals
"Automating empathy" through the use of messaging technology offers a cheaper and easier way for providers to keep in touch with their patients before and after undergoing clinical procedures. Among the companies involved in the trend is HealthLoop, whose technology is designed to allow physicians to transmit daily e-mails with information tailored to the present conditions of their patients. HealthLoop's technology is being tested at the Cleveland Clinic and other facilities across the US. Kaiser Health News (2/2)
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Aligning value for more efficient, integrated care
Insurers, providers and innovators are working hard to address unmet healthcare needs, but more can still be done to improve outcomes and lower costs. Aligning value among stakeholders through collaboration across the industry will help achieve the benefits of value-based care. Learn more.
Pharma News
TapImmune's ovarian cancer vaccine gains FDA fast-track status
TapImmune received fast-track status from the FDA for TPIV 200, a multiple-epitope folate receptor alpha peptide vaccine, as a maintenance treatment for platinum-sensitive advanced ovarian cancer patients who experienced partial response or disease stabilization after chemotherapy. The vaccine, which is indicated for use along with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor adjuvant, is being evaluated in early-stage studies. Seeking Alpha (free registration) (2/3)
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Policy Watch
Lawmaker proposes increased telehealth access for Medicare
A measure was introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, on Wednesday to boost Medicare's use of remote patient monitoring and telehealth services. The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health Act would remove obstacles to reimbursements for telehealth. Healthcare Informatics online (2/3)
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Ban on new home health agencies, ambulance suppliers extended by CMS
The CMS has again extended the moratorium on new home health agencies and ambulance suppliers in several major cities for another six months effective Jan. 29, according to a Federal Register notice. The ban will affect home health agencies and subunits in the metropolitan areas of Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Medicare Part B ambulance suppliers in Houston and Philadelphia are also included in the moratorium. Home Health Care News (2/2)
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Support for provider-based organizations and accountable care
AHIP’s Accountable Care Affiliate membership offers provider-based organizations, such as health systems, hospitals and physician organizations, added support to promote accountable care. Benefits include access to AHIP’s clinical, policy and public affairs resource center, networking opportunities and discounts on professional education. Learn more.
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Voluntary, Ancillary, and HIPAA Excepted Benefits course
Employers are turning to voluntary products as a way to offer their employees broader benefit selections tailored to their individual needs. Find out why with Voluntary, Ancillary, and HIPAA Excepted Benefits. This online course from AHIP is a convenient way to understand how to stretch dollars while providing an appropriate mix of coverage options. See details and register today.
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