News Briefs

Government Shutdown Could Greatly Impact Health Programs

The threat of a government shutdown is hanging over Capitol Hill, but so is the realization that gridlock could claim an array of health programs that are due to sunset at the end of the month without congressional action. Key health interests potentially have billions of dollars of funding on the line, from community health centers that serve 31 million people to hospitals that provide charity care.

(Source: Axios, 2023-09-18)


HHS Warns Hospitals About Growing Number of Smishing Attacks

By now, most of us are familiar with phishing, the practice of sending emails that appear as if they are from legitimate companies that try to get recipients to divulge personal information like passwords or credit card numbers. In August, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a report warning hospitals about a growing cyberattack trend that hackers are using to gain access to hospital and health system IT networks: smishing, or phishing via SMS (short message service) text message.

(Source: Health Journalism, 2023-09-15)


FTC Warns Drug Companies Against Listing Patents in ‘Orange Book’

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a policy statement warning pharmaceutical companies that make and sell brand-name drugs that they could face legal action if they improperly list patents in the FDA’s catalog of “Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” commonly known as the “Orange Book.” Improperly listing patents in the Orange Book may harm competition from less expensive generic alternatives and keep prices artificially high, according to the policy statement.

(Source: Healthcare Finance News, 2023-09-18)


Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees Act Unveiled

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla. introduced the latest iteration of the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees Act, which would make assaulting healthcare workers in hospitals a federal crime with enhanced penalties for assaults that result in serious bodily injury. Healthcare and social service workers face the highest rates of workplace violence and were five times as likely to get injured at work than workers overall as of 2018, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Source: Healthcare Dive, 2023-09-13)


More Health Systems Charging Patients for E-Mailing Their Doctors

Spurred by the sharp rise in email messaging during the COVID pandemic, a growing number of health systems around the country have started charging patients when physicians and other clinicians send replies to their messages. Billing for e-visits, however, raises knotty questions about the balance between fairly compensating providers for their time and enhancing patients’ access to care.

(Source: KFF Health News, 2023-09-14)


Hospitals, Health Systems Urge Lawmakers to Postpone DSH Cuts

Over 250 hospitals and health systems came together urging House and Senate leaders to again postpone or eliminate billions in funding cuts to the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program set to go into effect Oct. 1. The DSH program has been in place for decades to offset the uncompensated care safety net hospitals provide.

(Source: FierceHealthcare, 2023-09-14)


ChatGPT Performed as Well as ED Doctors in Patient Diagnosis

In another AI versus doctor showdown, AI has another victory. European researchers found that the artificial intelligence chatbot known as ChatGPT performed as well as — and to some extent better — than a trained doctor in suggesting likely diagnoses for patients being assessed in emergency departments.

(Source: Medical Economics, 2023-09-14)


Nursing Homes Not Seeing Relief from Decreasing Inflation

While the rate of inflation has cooled considerably this year, very few nursing home leaders are experiencing any relief, according to results of the 2023 McKnight’s Mood of the Market survey. Just about three percent of respondents said they had seen inflation or wage pressures ease by “a significant amount” compared to a year ago.

(Source: McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, 2023-09-15)


Telehealth Visits Billed as Less Complex Than In-Person Visits

A survey by Epic Research found telehealth visits were more frequently billed as less complex compared to in-person office visits for both primary and specialty providers. Telehealth visits were more readily billed with lower level of service codes than in-person visits, according to the study.

(Source: Healthcare Dive, 2023-09-15)


AMA Says Lack of Competition in PBM Space Harmful

The American Medical Association provided ammunition today to regulators, policymakers, and legislators concerned about just what role pharmacy benefit managers play in the drug supply chain. An AMA paper argues that vertical and horizontal PBM consolidation leads to a decline in price competition that hurts insurers — at least those who don’t own, or are owned by, a PBM — self-insured employers, and, ultimately, patients.

(Source: FierceHealthcare, 2023-09-12)


75% of Healthcare Pros See Virtual Nursing as Recruitment Tactic

As virtual nursing efforts spread across health systems, a new survey shows that 75 percent of healthcare professionals view virtual nursing as a recruitment opportunity to hire nurses who cannot or will not work at the bedside. Most survey respondents (66 percent) believe virtual nursing will become integral to acute care delivery models.

(Source: mHealthIntelligence, 2023-09-18)



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