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Updated: 9 hours 22 min ago

West Georgia Health Set to Join WellStar

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 07:12

"We were looking for a strong partner, but we were also looking for a good fit," says West Georgia Health's CEO. "Culturally, I believe this is a very good marriage."

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LifePoint Signs Partnership Deal with WI Medical Center

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 07:09

LifePoint will own 80% of the joint venture with Wisconsin's Watertown Regional Medical Center, which will retain a 20% ownership stake in the hospital if the deal is approved by regulators.

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Westchester Medical Takes Majority Ownership of NY's Bon Secours Charity Health

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 07:06

Under the joint venture finalized this week, WMC has taken 60% ownership and controls day-to-day operations of Bon Secours Charity Health.

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Opinion: Medical mystery—Making sense of ABIM's financial report

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 06:57

After months of delay, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) finally filed its latest financial reports with the IRS. Which means it's time to return to a fantasyland where up is down, black is white and money is hidden. It's quite a work of trickery, particularly when it comes to compensation: In the document, ABIM appears to have begun cutting back its massive pay to top officers, but it hasn't. A big percentage of the group's millions in losses was attributable to cash doled out to one former employee.

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House committee approves 21st Century Cures Act

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 06:52

A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill to speed new drugs to the market, overcoming last-minute wrangling over how to pay for the legislation. The bill, known as the 21st Century Cures Act, requires the Food and Drug Administration to incorporate patient experience into its decision-making, streamline its review of drugs for additional uses, and consider more flexible forms of clinical trials. The bill, developed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee was spearheaded by Republican Congressman Fred Upton and Democrat Diana DeGette. Upton's goal is for the bill to be voted on by the full House in June.

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Feds: FL needs $1 billion for hospital funding

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 06:51

The federal government told Florida on Thursday that the state will need $1 billion next year to maintain a hospital payment program that's at the center of a political stalemate preventing passage of a new state budget. In a letter to state health officials, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services said the $1 billion would "maintain stability while the system transitions" to new ways of compensating hospitals for the high cost of treating poor patients, a program known as LIP or low income pool. Tampa General Hospital, All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Miami's Jackson Health System and Broward Health are among Florida's largest recipients of LIP money.

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Many PA hospitals aren't getting paid for care they provide, report finds

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 06:49

The federal Affordable Care Act enabled millions of previously uninsured Americans to get health coverage, but a new report says Pennsylvania hospitals still provide lots of care they aren't getting paid for. In Western Pennsylvania, that means many hospitals are operating in the red. "The continued growth of uncompensated care remains a major concern for Pennsylvania hospitals," said Joe Martin, executive director of the independent Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council in today's report release. The report, which can be viewed online at www.phc4.org, says the state's 171 general acute care hospitals provided $1.07 billion in uncompensated care during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, a 2.2 percent increase, or $22 million more, than the previous year.

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MA doctors group issues guidelines on pain meds

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 06:48

A group representing 25,000 doctors in Massachusetts is issuing new guidelines for the prescribing of pain medication, citing an epidemic of opioid abuse. The Massachusetts Medical Society said Thursday that it was launching a major campaign to educate doctors and patients about safe prescribing, and the storage and disposal of pain medications. The organization's president, Dr. Dennis Dimitri, said he believes most physicians are responsible, but added "there are too many doses of opioid medication in circulation." He said the new guidelines aim to limiting pain medications to those "who truly need them."

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Your doctor, always available, for a monthly fee

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 06:47

For 10 years, Jeff Gold showed up to a job he wanted to love: being a family doctor. "I was busy as a bee," says Gold, 39, with up to 2,500 patients, seeing 20 or so a day. Rushing from one patient to the next, calling insurers who wouldn't approve prescriptions, filling out paperwork that didn't seem relevant to his patients, Gold kept asking himself, is this what I signed up for? "I thought I was gonna help everybody and spend time with everybody and it's impossible to do," Gold says.

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The agony of medical bills

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 06:45

It shouldn't take a Harvard expert in health policy to understand a doctor's bill. But sometimes, it does. In August of last year, Liz was a medical student whose doctor found a lump on her tonsils. Her primary-care physician referred her to an in-network ear-nose-and-throat specialist. Liz, who asked to go by her first name, expected the usual $20 copay. Instead, she was charged $219.90—wrongly, in her view—for separate physician and facility fees. Under the terms of her plan, Liz says, she should not have been responsible for those charges. After a polite letter to her ("Thank you for your recent grievance..."), Anthem Blue Cross upheld the charges.

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Carotid Artery Stenting Outcomes Vary Widely by Hospital

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 07:01

In-hospital outcomes among patients undergoing CAS in the US varied fourfold after adjusting for differences in patient risk factors in an analysis of data from a large, nationwide stenting registry. From MedPage Today.

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Lahey Health to lay off 130 workers

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 06:47

Lahey Health, the Burlington-based hospital network, is laying off 130 people at three hospitals and cutting the pay of top executives as it moves to close a budget gap. Lahey said Wednesday that it lost $21 million during the six months that ended March 31 because it spent more than anticipated on the rollout of a new software system and lost business during the harsh winter as patients canceled appointments. It also blamed what it called low reimbursements from public and private insurers that did not cover the full cost of delivering care to patients.

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Stakeholders divided as lawmakers mark up 21st century cures bill

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 06:45

On Tuesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee members discussed changes to the 21st Century Cures Act (HR 6), including the bill's interoperability provisions, Politico's "Morning eHealth" reports. In April, the committee released draft legislation for the 21st Century Cures initiative with provisions to alter FDA's oversight of health software products, but left out provisions on interoperability and telehealth. However, the committee last week released an updated draft of the 21st Century Cures Act that filled placeholders for several provisions, including those related to interoperability. The revised draft legislation still lacks language to expand Medicare beneficiaries' access to telehealth, but it does call for studies of such services.

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Doctors among dozens held in raids against illegal sales of prescription drugs

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 06:44

Seven doctors and 41 others in four Southern states were arrested Wednesday in raids by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, officials said, part of what the agency called its largest operation against illegal trafficking of prescription drugs. The raids came after a 15-month investigation by the agency, which focused on the illegal sale and distribution of painkillers including oxycodone and hydrocodone and the tranquilizer Xanax. At a news conference, officials said the arrests were in addition to 230 others made during the investigation, which targeted doctors, pharmacists, street-level dealers and others.

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Managing population health with the all-payer claims database

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 06:39

While population health management often seems like the job of primary care providers concerned with a relatively small and local set of patients in need of reminder calls and flu shots, individual providers aren't the only ones digging into masses of clinical and demographic data in an effort to identify trends, hotspots, and care deficiencies. Public healthcare organizations on the regional and state level are using a tool known as the all-payer claims database, a clinical analytics repository that stores patient data from private and public insurance programs.

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Doctors may not fully explain risks of common heart procedure

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 06:37

Patients mulling whether to get a common procedure to unclog blocked arteries may not get enough information from their doctors to make the best choice, a small study suggests. Researchers analyzed recordings of 59 conversations between cardiologists and patients about a common procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which is done to reopen arteries and restore blood flow to the heart - and found just two discussions covered all the points needed for patients to make an informed decision. The procedure, also referred to as a balloon angioplasty, involves attaching a tiny deflated balloon to special tubing that's threaded through arteries to the site of the blockage.

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7 ex-nurses indicted after broken finger leads to amputation

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 06:34

Seven former nurses have been charged with criminal neglect in the case of a woman who needed her hand amputated after a broken finger wasn't treated properly, officials announced Tuesday. An indictment issued last month said seven Vineland Developmental Center nurses failed to aid the "physical or mental health" of resident Wendy Hart, whom officials described as physically and mentally disabled. Prosecutors alleged the nurses wrapped a bandage around Hart's hand so tightly that it developed gangrene and had to be amputated in April 2012, according to a state Department of Health and Human Services report.

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Angina: Routine hospitalization probably unnecessary

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 10:57

When emergency department work-ups fail to confirm acute coronary syndrome, hospitalization for observation is unlikely to turn up a cardiovascular cause for chest pain.

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Tapering asthma meds saves money in stable patients

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 10:55

Reducing asthma medications in stable patients led to cost savings without increasing utilization of other asthma resources, researchers reported here.

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Computer-assisted sedation a hit with endoscopists

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 10:54

Computer-assisted propofol sedation (CAPS) for moderate sedation in patients undergoing routine upper endoscopy and colonoscopy reduced recovery time by nearly 20%, researchers reported here.

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