Healthcare and Insurance News Headline Updated on 20 December 2019

The headline on 20 December 2019

Direct-to-consumer company Hims & Hers has signed some notable partnerships, including pop star Jennifer Lopez. Source: Medium > Making Healthcare Work for You

The headline on 19 December 2019

Hospital execs say they’re getting swamped by tech companies with requests for your data. Source: CNBC > Hospital execs say they are getting flooded with requests for your health data

Cigna confirmed Wednesday that it would sell its non-health benefits business to New York Life in a deal valued at $6.3 billion. Source: Cigna > NEW YORK LIFE TO ACQUIRE CIGNA’S GROUP LIFE AND DISABILITY INSURANCE BUSINESS

The Associated Press reports that Navajo Nation is working to become one of the first Native American tribes to establish its own managed care program under Medicaid in New Mexico. Source: The Associated Press > Navajo Nation to create ‘one-of-a-kind Medicaid program’

Salaries increased last year for both physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, according to a new survey that revealed average earnings by specialties. Source: LocumTenens > 2019 Physician and Advanced Practice Salary Report

A Pennsylvania doctor pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug importation charges for illegally importing medications not approved by the FDA. Source: DOJ > Pennsylvania Doctor Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Drug Importation Charges

An EHR deleted a decimal point from a drug dosage entry, which was among the examples of issues that could lead to patient harm. Source: JAMA Network > Identifying Potential Patient Safety Issues From the Federal Electronic Health Record Surveillance Program

The headline on 18 December 2019

Digital health company Hims & Hers announced two new partnerships Tuesday—one a traditional collaboration and another that’s a bit more flashy. Source: Medium > Making Healthcare Work for You

Cigna is cutting ties with Memorial Hermann Health System, saying the provider raised its prices but refused to negotiate. Source: Houston Business Journal > Major insurance co. to end contract with Houston’s largest health care system

The headline on 17 December 2019

A new study finds fewer Americans have a primary care doctor, which the lead author says is “moving in the wrong direction”. Source: JAMA Network > Characteristics of Americans With Primary Care and Changes Over Time, 2002-2015

Is eating chili peppers a key to good health? A study finds they cut the risk of death from heart attacks and stroke. Source: CNN Health > Eating chilies cuts risk of death from heart attack and stroke, study says

A study published in Health Affairs put a new number of just how much surprise out-of-network bills for care delivered in in-network hospitals are costing patients. Source: Health Affairs > Out-Of-Network Billing And Negotiated Payments For Hospital-Based Physicians

The headline on 16 December 2019

Boston-based Partners HealthCare—now known as Mass General Brigham—plans to spend more than $100 million on a five-year initiative to boost digital innovation and improve the patient experience. Source: Boston Globe Media Partners > Partners HealthCare is launching a $100 million digital health initiative

Investor interest in healthcare artificial intelligence companies continues with software company LeanTaaS closing a $40 million series C funding round from Goldman Sachs. Source: Lean Enterprise Institute > PRINCIPLES OF LEAN

Hackensack Meridian Health said it paid an unspecified ransom after it was hit with a cyberattack that disrupted care across its clinics and 17 hospitals. Source: The Wall Street Journal > New Jersey Hospital System Hit by Cyberattack

A survey found the majority of female physicians believe that their male counterparts earn more than they do. Joanne Finnegan has more on why. Source: Merritt Hawkins > 2019 Survey of Women in Medicine

The headline on 13 December 2019

CVS is launching a new program aimed at boosting access to genetic testing for people with advanced cancers. Source: CVS Health Launches Transform Oncology Care Program to Help Improve Patient Outcomes and Lower Overall Costs

A federal watchdog is concerned Medicare’s rules have enabled Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to make patients appear sicker than they are to get higher payments. Source: Billions in Estimated Medicare Advantage Payments From Chart Reviews Raise Concerns

Express Scripts has revealed the first 15 tech tools it will include on its new digital health formulary, which launches in January. Source: Express Scripts Makes Digital Health Click

The headline on 12 December 2019

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will integrate PillPack’s services into its member app, marking the online pharmacy’s first such arrangement with a health plan. Source: Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Massachusetts Simplifies Pharmacy Experience With PillPack

Healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente has named a new CEO following the sudden passing of industry titan Bernard Tyson. Source: Kaiser Permanente > Greg Adams named Chairman, Chief Executive Officer

Take a look at which physician specialties have the highest salaries and which saw the biggest pay increases in 2019. Source: Doximit > U.S. Physician Employment Report 2019

Female medical students have hit a milestone: They now comprise the majority of enrolled U.S. medical students. Source: AAMC > The Majority of U.S. Medical Students Are Women, New Data Show

At the same time, female doctors are still earning less than their male colleagues. In a survey, the women said why they think that is the case. Source: Merritt Hawkins > 2019 Survey of Women in Medicine

A new study looked at how primary care in the U.S. stacks up with 11 other high-income countries. While ahead in IT, doctors still struggle to coordinate care. Source: Health Affairs > Primary Care Physicians’ Role In Coordinating Medical And Health-Related Social Needs In Eleven Countries

The headline on 11 December 2019

White House officials have called HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Verma into a meeting Thursday to see if they can resolve their differences, Source: The New York Times > White House Summons Feuding Health Officials for Counseling Session

OneFifteen, the high tech clinic Verily launched in Dayton, Ohio earlier this year with a focus on opioid addiction, begins seeing its first patients. Source: Dayton Business Journal > Google’s Verily begins seeing first patients in Dayton

The headline on 10 December 2019

A new Gallup poll found more Americans are delaying medical treatments due to costs. Source: Gallup > More Americans Delaying Medical Treatment Due to Cost

Tensions are still running high between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to the point that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have intervened. Source: Axios > Scoop: Trump and Pence intervene in a clash between top health officials

UnitedHealth Group announced that it would purchase specialty pharmacy Diplomat in a $300 million deal, with plans to fold it into OptumRx. Source: UnitedHealth Group > Diplomat, OptumRx Combining to Advance Access to Specialty Pharmacy Care and Infusion Services, Improve Health Outcomes

Banner Health has agreed to pay up to $6 million to victims of a massive 2016 data breach as part of a proposed settlement, according to court documents filed last week. Source: ISMG > Banner Health Breach Lawsuit Settled

Take a look at which physician specialties have the highest salaries and which saw the biggest pay increases in 2019. Source: U.S. Physician Employment Report 2019

Certain political events, including the election of President Donald Trump, caused a mood decline among young U.S. doctors, according to a new BMJ study. Source: thebmj > Political events and mood among young physicians: a prospective cohort study

Since the devices became popular in 2006, head and neck injuries related to cell phone use have increased steadily, according to a study led by a facial plastic surgeon. Source: JAMA Network > Head and Neck Injuries Associated With Cell Phone Use

The headline on 9 December 2019

Google continues to face Congressional scrutiny about its collection and use of sensitive health data in a project with Ascension as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash, wrote a letter to company executives pressing for more details. Source: JAYAPAL PRESSES GOOGLE ON HEALTH DATA COLLECTION

Genomics startup Veritas Genetics is ceasing U.S. operations because it has struggled to raise new funds. Proteus Digital Health also is struggling to stay afloat. Source: CNBC > Digital health start-up once worth $1.5 billion is racing to keep lights on as investors flee

As Millennials continue to gain influence in the workplace, they’ll likely be pushing insurers for some changes, according to a new survey. Source: HealthEdge > 2019 Voice of the Market Survey Series

The headline on 6 December 2019

CMS released its annual look at health expenditures on Thursday, and the report shows that health spending growth did increase slightly from 2017, due in large part to the impacts of the ACA’s hated health insurance tax. Source: CMS.gov > CMS Office of the Actuary Releases 2018 National Health Expenditures

The House is set to vote next week on a sweeping drug price bill championed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Source: THE HILL > House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices

The headline on 5 December 2019

Health IT pioneer John Halamka, M.D. is leaving Massachusetts after 23 years to lead Mayo Clinic’s digital health and artificial intelligence projects. Heather Landi has more. Source: Dr. John Halamka named the president of Mayo Clinic Platform

Regulators found a former NFL quarterback was not qualified to run a hospital. Source: Tampa Bay Times reports > Former NFL player not qualified to run hospital, feds find

Startups with solutions for migraines, kidney stones, clinical trial recruitment, and endoscopic medical care were among the latest health VC deals. Heather Landi offers a look. Source: MedCityNews > Japanese firm’s AI algorithm for gastric cancer gets FDA’s Breakthrough Device designation

TV hospital dramas often get a bad rap for how they portray healthcare. But a new study is giving “Grey’s Anatomy” some credit for increasing awareness for a sexual assault hotline. Source: JAMA Network > Public Awareness for a Sexual Assault Hotline Following a Grey’s Anatomy Episode

Two Democratic senators are pushing big name payers and CMS to respond to concerns about racial bias in data algorithms used to assess patients’ healthcare needs. Source: Booker Wyden Health Care Letters

41% of Americans say they do not intend to get a flu shot this season, a new survey shows. Source: NORC > 41 Percent of Americans Do Not Intend to Get a Flu Shot this Season

Physician compensation increased this year but productivity remained flat or even declined, according to a new survey. Source: SullivanCotter > Physician Compensation Evolving to Address Complex Operating Environment

A factor that could worsen the country’s rural health crisis: The number of medical students from rural backgrounds declined 28% over 15 years. Source: Health Affairs > The Decline In Rural Medical Students: A Growing Gap In Geographic Diversity Threatens The Rural Physician Workforce

In what’s an angry, stressed-out time, you can learn to become a kinder person, research finds. Source: The Washington Post > In this angry and stressed-out time, research says we can learn to be kinder

The headline on 4 December 2019

The Trump administration is launching a program to provide free access to doses of Truvada, a drug that prevents HIV, to people who are uninsured and at risk of being infected. Source: Ending the HIV Epidemic: Ready, Set, PrEP

Stephen Hahn, the radiation oncologist from MD Anderson Cancer Center nominated by the Trump administration to be FDA Commissioner, got passed a key hurdle toward getting the job on Tuesday. Source: The Washington Post > Senate panel approves Hahn as FDA head

Humana and Philips announced this morning that they were joining forces for two remote monitoring programs targeting select Medicare Advantage members. Source: Philips and Humana team up to improve care for at-risk Medicare Advantage members

Texas health officials have sued the Trump administration over $25 million in Medicaid payments. Source: Bloomberg Law > Texas Sues HHS to Hold on to $25 Million in Medicaid Payments (1)

Health IT company Cerner is deepening its partnership with Amazon Web Services to build new prediction tools and a virtual medical scribe for healthcare providers. Source: Cerner, AWS Work to Reduce Patient Re-Admissions and Time Spent Documenting Patient Visits

Cerner is deepening its partnership with AWS
Cerner is deepening its partnership with AWS

Humana and Philips announced this morning that they were joining forces for two remote monitoring programs targeting select Medicare Advantage members. Source: Philips and Humana team up to improve care for at-risk Medicare Advantage members

The headline on 3 December 2019

UnitedHealth Group projected it will generate $242 billion in revenue in 2019 and expects to report another 7% to 8% increase in top-line growth in 2020. Robert King has more. Source: Forbes > UnitedHealth Group: 2020 Revenues To Eclipse $260B

It will take nearly 100 years to reach gender parity among healthcare venture capital partners—and that’s if 50% of new hires are women starting today, according to a Rock Health report. Source: Rock Health > The state of gender equity at healthcare startups and VCs in 2019

Today is Giving Tuesday, a global day of charitable giving that falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This site offers resources to find a cause or organization to give your time or a donation.

A package originally intended for a medical clinic was delivered to the wrong address and resulted in a Washington state movie theater being evacuated over the ‘highly contagious’ box of urine. Source: Fox News > Washington movie theater evacuated after ‘highly contagious’ package of urine sent to the wrong address

Centene agreed to sell its Medicaid and Medicare Advantage business in Illinois to CVS Health to help its $15 billion mergers with insurer WellCare. Source: Centene and CVS Health Announce Agreement for CVS Health to Acquire IlliniCare Health

Some life insurance underwriters are beginning to charge certain vapers higher rates than smokers. Source: Reuters reports > Could life insurance go up in smoke for some vapers?

The headline on 2 December 2019

Politico reports that tensions are running high within HHS between Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Source: Clashes among top HHS officials undermine Trump agenda

Partners Healthcare System — which is Massachusett’s largest health system — will be now known as Mass General Brigham. Source: Partners HealthCare Announces Five-year Strategic Plan and Launch of System Rebranding

As Joanne Finnegan reports, a new study found doctors with depression are at a greater risk of making medical errors. Source: JAMA Network Open > Association Between Physician Depressive Symptoms and Medical Errors

Amazon launched Transcribe Medical, a new speech recognition service for clinical documentation to rival virtual medical scribe services from Microsoft and Google. Source: Amazon Transcribe Medical

A Japanese startup focused on using AI for early detection of gastrointestinal cancers scored $42.9 million in funding backed by big-name investors like Sony. Source: AI Medical Service

The Wall Street Journal reports that blood-sugar monitors for patients with diabetes stopped sending important information over the weekend, the result of a technological problem. Source: Diabetes Patients’ Blood-Sugar Data Aren’t Being Shared

GTT Communications announced on Monday that it has completed its $56 million deal to buy Dutch carrier KP International. Source: GTT Completes Acquisition of KPN International