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27Jul, 2016

What will happen with healthcare policy under President Trump or Clinton?

By Harris Meyer  | July 23, 2016 | Modern Healthcare.com

The November elections surely won’t end the nonstop, eight-year political war over the shape of the U.S. healthcare system. But the ballot results likely will determine whether the changes driven by the Affordable Care Act continue in the same direction or the system returns to its less-regulated, pre-ACA contours.

Heading into this week’s Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton has promised to preserve and expand the ACA’s coverage expansions and delivery system reforms. Donald Trump, who accepted the Republican nomination last week, says he wants to repeal them, without offering much detail about what […]

27Jul, 2016

Attorneys spar over Hershey-Pinnacle merger

July 26, 2016 at 3:59 PM | CPBJ

A federal court in Philadelphia today heard arguments about a merger between two of Central Pennsylvania’s largest health systems, with a decision expected later this summer.

The hearing in the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia brought together lawyers representing the government and the two systems, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Pinnacle Health System.

The merger had been approved by lower courts, but the Federal Trade Commission and Pennsylvania Attorney General continue to oppose it.

The latest round of arguments was heard by a three-judge panel led by former Pennsylvania […]

25Jul, 2016

When Health Insurers Merge Consumers Often Lose

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD JULY 25, 2016 | The New York Times
A wave of mergers in many sectors of the economy over the last several decades has significantly reduced competition and hurt consumers. That’s why the lawsuits filed last week by the Department of Justice and state attorneys general in federal court challenging two big heath insurance mergers were so important.

Antitrust officials say Aetna’s $37 billion acquisition of Humana and Anthem’s $54 billion purchase of Cigna will reduce the number of large national health insurers to three, from five today. That would lead to fewer choices and higher premiums for […]

25Jul, 2016

Democratic Platform calls for end to Obamacare tax

By Robert King • 7/22/16 5:40 PM  | The Washington Examiner

Democrats drove another nail into the coffin of the unpopular “Cadillac” tax on expensive health plans created under Obamacare.

The Democratic Party platform released Friday calls for ending the planned excise tax on high-cost healthcare plans that has been nicknamed the “Cadillac” tax. Democrats have largely joined Republicans in opposing the tax.

“We will repeal the excise tax on high-cost health insurance and find revenue to offset it because we need to contain the long-term growth of health care costs, but should not risk passing on too much of the burden to […]

25Jul, 2016

Healthy eating can include ‘a lot’ of (good) fat, analysis of 56 diet studies concludes

By Ariana Eunjung Cha | The Washington Post
July 19

Hanna Bloomfield’s bosses at the Department of Veterans Affairs had been reading a lot about the plant-based Mediterranean diet. Some highly publicized recent studies had shown that eating lots of fresh vegetables and olive oil along with maybe a splash of red wine could have tremendous health benefits, and they wondered whether it was something the VA, as an organization, should consider recommending to its more than 9 million patients.

They tasked Bloomfield with figuring out whether this health effect was real — or simply hype. Bloomfield, associate chief of staff for research for the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and a professor at the University of Minnesota, pulled […]

21Jul, 2016

Pa. offers prescribing guidelines, monitoring program to combat opioid abuse

By Lenay Ruhl,July 21, 2016 at 3:00 AM | CPBJ

(Photo / Thinkstock)

The latest state efforts to combat the epidemic of painkiller and heroin abuse are focusing on prescription medication.

State officials this this week adopted guidelines for physicians prescribing opioids, while a new prescription drug monitoring program is set to become fully functional in August.

The efforts are critical as Pennsylvania combats a national epidemic, officials said.

More than 259 million opioid prescriptions were written across the U.S. in 2012, and an estimated 1.9 million Americans are addicted to opioid pain pills, according to a study by the National Security Council.

The study found […]

15Jul, 2016

U.S. Health Care Costs Reach Record Highs

July 14–WASHINGTON — The nation’s health care tab this year is expected to surpass $10,000 per person for the first time, the government said yesterday.

The new peak means the Obama administration will pass the problem on to its successor.

The report from number-crunchers at the Department of Health and Human Ser­vices projects that health care spending will grow at a faster rate than the national econ­omy over the coming decade.

That squeezes the ability of federal and state governments, not to mention employers and average citizens, to pay. Growth is projected to average 5.8 percent from 2015 to 2025, below the pace […]

14Jul, 2016

Law blocks insurers from upcharging for oral cancer treatment

By Lenay Ruhl, July 14, 2016 at 3:00 AM | CPBJ

(Photo / Thinkstock)

New legislation approved this week will protect cancer patients in Pennsylvania from paying more for oral treatments.

The law ensures that insurers in Pennsylvania cannot increase a patient’s insurance rates simply because they are using oral forms of treatment.

Oral cancer treatment is newer than traditional, intravenous or injected chemotherapies, and tends to have fewer, less harmful side effects, according to the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

However, health insurance plans typically imposed higher co-payments, deductibles or coinsurance amounts for oral anticancer medicine, the society said.

Those practices are now illegal under a law […]

13Jul, 2016

How can I help my employees become better health care consumers?

According to the 2016 Milliman Medical Index, the average cost of providing health care for a family covered under an employer-sponsored health care plan has surpassed $25,000.

That is three times the cost of family coverage in 2001 and represents the 11th consecutive year that the total dollar increase for the average family’s health care costs exceeded $1,000.

With many employers not able to continue absorbing ever-increasing insurance renewals, some are partnering with employees to reduce expenditures as part of their benefit strategy.

Too frequently, employers spend months working with consultants to plan an upcoming renewal only to spend a day or two […]

27Jun, 2016

Study finds Pa. is “lagging” in fight against opioids

Lawmakers, governor plan special session to tackle problem
By Lenay Ruhl, June 24, 2016 at 10:32 AM | CPBJ

Pennsylvania is lagging behind when it comes to combating opioid pain pill and heroin addiction, according to a report released today by the National Security Council, but elected officials are springing into action with plans for a special legislative session.

The council deemed the opioid epidemic the most fatal drug crisis in U.S. history, blaming it for the loss of 165,000 American lives between 2000 and 2014.

It evaluated efforts by all 50 states based on six indicators deemed necessary to confront the crisis.

The study […]