About healthcare IT
House votes to lift ban on funding for national patient identifier: This story is the biggest of the year in its potential impact. The HIPAA mandated unique identifiers for all stakeholders in the healthcare system. But patients were subsequently excluded. Now a unique patient identifier is back on the table. It is an essential component of interoperable healthcare systems and many other countries have been using them for years without breeches in security.
VA $16B EHR project moving forward without key governance leadership in place: This article is the latest update on the continuing saga of the VA’s long-delayed EHR implementation.
IBM, KPMG, Merck and Walmart to collaborate as part of FDA's program to evaluate the use of blockchain to protect pharmaceutical product integrity: “The program is intended to assist drug supply chain stakeholders, including FDA, in developing the electronic, interoperable system that will identify and trace certain prescription drugs as they are distributed within the United States.”
About health insurance
Trump administration rule opens door to more people buying Obamacare plans Health Reimbursement Arrangements(HRAs) are funded by employers so employees can use the money to pay for qualified out of pocket healthcare expenses with pre tax dollars. Until now, however, the accounts could not be used to pay for premiums. The Trump administration is now allowing such a use. Further, this mechanism will also be allowed to help employers side-step company-based health insurance plans by using HRA funding to allow employees to buy their own policies (including on ACA exchanges).
Hospital Mergers a Side Effect of Surprise Bills Plans, CBO Warns: The Congressional Budget Office evaluated the three plans to address surprise billing. It concluded that all would spur future provider consolidation. Some economists, however, do not agree,
Pelosi to change drug-pricing plan after progressive complaints: After listening to her more progressive colleagues, Speaker Pelosi changed her stance on requiring Medicare to negotiate prices on a minimum of 25 drugs per year. The figure has been increased to “ somewhere around 250 drugs.”
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Democrats introduce bill to make birth control available over-the-counter: The headline speaks for itself.
House votes to block Trump administration’s ban on fetal tissue research: As previously reported, the Trump administration issued a ban on fetal tissue research. While the House voted to block the action, it is unlikely the Senate will follow suit.
Read the story(Washington Post but appears to be open access)
About the public’s health
New York, epicenter of measles outbreak, bans religious exemptions for vaccines: The headline speaks for itself.
Read the article(Washington Post but appears to be open access)