CMS finalizes health care price transparency rule | US records over 88K COVID-19 cases on Thursday | Feds: US hospitals should brace for cyberattacks
October 30, 2020
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The CMS has finalized a rule requiring most private health insurance providers to create a digital tool that will display cost-sharing information for 500 common health care items and services as well as negotiated rates between insurers and health care providers starting in 2023, with the scope expanding the following year. AHIP President and CEO Matt Eyles said the rule will "reduce competition and push health care prices higher -- not lower -- for American families, patients and taxpayers."
Full Story: The Associated Press (10/29),  Healthcare Finance (10/29) 
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The White House coronavirus task force urged states to impose aggressive measures to slow the "unrelenting" spread of COVID-19 after the US logged 88,521 COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest daily spike since the pandemic started. The nationwide tally has reached more than 8.9 million cases and at least 228,656 fatalities, over 46,000 Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19, and experts said the daily death toll could triple by mid-January.
Full Story: CNN (10/30),  The Guardian (London) (10/29) 
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Providers & Suppliers
US hospitals preparing to treat a new surge of COVID-19 cases should also brace for more ransomware attacks from hackers, according to the FBI, HHS and the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. "CISA, FBI, and HHS have credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers," the agencies wrote in a statement.
Full Story: The Hill (10/28) 
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Mass General Brigham's five-year "United Against Racism" initiative calls for reducing the effects of racism across its 12-hospital network through changes in leadership, culture and patient care. David Williams, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said leadership should be commended for the plan but that success will depend on whether they have a long-term commitment, sufficient funding, appropriate expertise, accountability and evaluation.
Full Story: WBUR-FM (Boston) (10/28) 
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Medical Update
A study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found people who were vaccinated against flu within a year before diagnosis with COVID-19 were less likely to be hospitalized with a severe case of the disease or admitted to an intensive care unit. Researchers said the vaccine doesn't protect people from COVID-19, but it could prevent progression to severe forms by "priming" the immune system against any virus.
Full Story: United Press International (10/28) 
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Current smokers are at a higher risk of cardiovascular mortality than people who never smoked are, and the risk increases the earlier a person began smoking, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association. People who stopped smoking, especially at a younger age, had lower CV mortality risks compared with current smokers.
Full Story: Healio (free registration) (10/28) 
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Emerging Trends
A survey of Medicare Advantage plan executives and digital health companies showed 26% of MA beneficiaries had used telehealth through April of this year, compared with 13% for all of 2019. Insurer representatives said their focus areas during the pandemic include transportation, home drug delivery, food and nutrition, and social isolation.
Full Story: FierceHealthcare (10/27) 
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Google Health and the Mayo Clinic are working together on an artificial intelligence tool to streamline radiotherapy planning for patients with cancer. An algorithm being developed by the organizations aims to help clinicians more accurately target tumors and distinguish them from healthy tissue.
Full Story: Health IT Analytics (10/29) 
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Pharma News
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said the US will likely know whether there will be a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 "sometime in December," based on projections from leading vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer. Initial doses of a vaccine, if validated, will likely become available to high-risk Americans by year's end or early 2021, Fauci said.
Full Story: Reuters (10/29) 
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Scientific experts warn the US public may be expecting too much, too soon of a COVID-19 vaccine, and Dr. William Haseltine of Access Health International said current clinical trials are too short and too small to prove a vaccine can help keep people from being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19. Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said treatments and vaccines are not a "silver bullet" and people will still have to wear masks and social distance well into 2021.
Full Story: CNBC (10/29),  Kaiser Health News (10/28) 
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Policy Watch
HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has issued an interim final rule pushing the deadline for compliance with new information blocking regulations to April 5, 2021, and moving the deadline for the new standardization application programming interface and health IT certification criteria updates to Dec. 31, 2022. National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker said the decision was made to allow stakeholders to focus on the pandemic.
Full Story: Health Imaging online (10/29) 
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AHIP News
Join us on Nov. 6 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET for "Medicare Advantage Plans and the Cures Act: Bending the ESRD Trend" as Healthmap Solutions shows how artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics -- along with clinical expertise and patient-centered complex care management -- can lower costs and improve clinical outcomes for patients with end-stage renal disease.
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For plans seeking to contain administrative costs, outsourcing can be a smart solution. TPA Direct Members are experts in delivering back-office efficiencies. Insurance Administrative Solutions (IAS) administers life, health, and MedSupp products and services, with a focus on the senior market. IAS performs all of the functions necessary for an insurance company to operate their business, including insurance and reinsurance account reporting.
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The number of vaccinations ordered by doctors fell sharply after the national emergency was declared in March. According to the WHO, outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases will overwhelm health systems already battling the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. Learn why staying up to date on routine immunizations is as important as ever.
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