Today's News and Commentary

About healthcare quality and patient safety

The Best Hospitals 2019-20 Honor Roll: This year’s US News rankings have just been published.

Medical-device reprocessing saved providers $470 million last year: Usually reprocessing single- use devices is a red flag for quality/safety concerns. This article explains how they can be safely reused at a substantial cost savings.

About pharma

Drug companies to pay $70 million for delaying cheaper generics, California attorney general says: The FTC has been challenging branded drug manufacturers who pay generic companies to withhold their products during the period when the latter have marketing exclusivity. This case is unusual because a state is taking action against such a practice.

In A 1st, Doctors In U.S. Use CRISPR Tool To Treat Patient With Genetic Disorder: A patient received cells that were genetically altered using the CRISPER tool. The treatment was to correct her sickle cell disease.

About health insurance

CMS proposes hospitals post online negotiated rates with payers: CMS has issued a proposed rule to require hospitals to post online their list prices and a payer-specific negotiated prices for 300 common shoppable services, such as lab tests or certain clinical services. After accepting comments, the measure is set to start January 1, 2020. Failure to comply will result in penalties of $300 per day.
Comments: Will patients who go to a facility dictated by their insurance bother to look at the prices? Will patients who need emergency care look up the prices? Will this measure have any impact on “surprise billing?” Is $300 per day a sufficient penalty for not revealing confidential negotiated fees? What if payers offer to compensate hospitals for the penalty to keep the prices confidential?

Proposed Policy, Payment, and Quality Provisions Changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for Calendar Year 2020: CMS has issued its proposed policies for comment that concern next year’s Medicare physician payments and quality provisions.

Trump Administration’s Patients over Paperwork Delivers for Doctors: In a related publication, CMS published measures '‘aimed at reducing burden, recognizing clinicians for the time they spend with patients, removing unnecessary measures and making it easier for them to be on the path towards value-based care.” The administration claims these new regulations will save 2.3 million hours per year.

Hurry up and wait: Docs say insurers increasingly interfere: This article highlights how utilization reviewers determine what tests/treatments are done by withholding payments.
Comment: If providers assumed financial risk for services would we have this problem?

About healthcare IT

Google Translate accurate enough to convert medical research into English: Review articles in the US are usually limited to studies published in English. This research showed that Google Translate is accurate enough to expand these reviews to other languages.