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In Arkansas, a Dem senator campaigns on Obamacare

8:45 pm, Aug. 21 |

Pryor
One of the biggest mysteries in the endless political battle over Obamacare is why President Barck Obama and his fellow Democrats haven't more aggressively and effectively touted the law's protections for consumers against being denied coverage and treatment by insurers.

Many if not most Americans have experienced fights with health insurers over coverage, and it's safe to say insurers are not well-loved by the public. Yet Republicans are counting on their attacks against the Affordable Care Act to carry them to November election victories that will hand them control of the Senate and greater leverage to roll back the healthcare reform law.
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Suspicion falls on Heartbleed in CHS hack


It seems that healthcare information technology security specialists may have been right back in April when they warned that healthcare data systems were at risk from the then-newly discovered Heartbleed vulnerability.

While there is no official confirmation that the highly publicized Heartbleed bug was used to drain Community Health Systems of the demographic information on 4.5 million patients, an Ohio security firm is saying that it was a Heartbleed-enabled hack.
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Amazon meets with FDA, healthcare is likely the topic


The road to the Food and Drug Administration's Silver Spring, Md., office this year has been well-traveled by the big technology firms. Both Google and Apple have met with FDA leadership to talk about healthcare plans, and a recent review of FDA's public calendar reveals Amazon.com has joined the FDA healthcare parade.
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RAND report takes you on a trip to dark side (of cybercrime)


It's not Elmore Leonard, but for the average health information technology reader, a new RAND report, Markets for Cybercrime Tools and Stolen Data: Hackers' Bazaar, is still a gripper.

The report pulls back the curtain on the underworld of data theft, looking at it in its entirety, as a fully functional marketplace, not merely as random, isolated hacks and breaches. That's where it's likely to capture a health IT reader's attention in the wake of Monday's announcement that 4.5 million patient records had been stolen from Community Health Systems by hackers.
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How to find new evidence to back digital health initiatives

1:15 pm, Aug. 20 |

The development of clinical evidence proving the effectiveness of various digital health systems and devices lags well behind the hype and adoption that surrounds the digital space, many health technology experts agree.

More and better research would ensure that providers are making evidence-based decisions, and not hastily wasting money or harming patient care, they reason.
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You can show patients test results, but will they understand them?

1:15 pm, Aug. 20 |

With the increasing adoption of electronic health records, more patients are able to view their lab results electronically outside of clinical consultations, but a study suggests that access doesn't mean patients understand what they're seeing.

A team at the University of Michigan schools of Public Health and Medicine discovered that people with low literacy skills and low numerical comprehension were less than half as likely to identify if a lab result was inside or outside the standard range.
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A great hacker will find HIT system flaws, exploit them


When you think about how an “advanced persistent threat,” i.e., a hacker, works, think of a professional quarterback like the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers.

Smart, capable and most of all flexible, a pro QB will read a defense and exploit whatever weakness it offers. He might look first for a 50-yard TD strike to the split-end running a fly down the sideline. But if the cornerback has that guy covered, he'll look next for the flanker on a cross 20 yards deep. If the safety is blanketing the flanker, the wily QB will take what he can get, either dumping off to a halfback sneaking in front the linebackers in the hook zone 7 yards downfield or, if the tackles are split and he's fleet of foot like Rodgers, running the ball himself.
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'Copper plans' could cut subsidies, lower deficit, but would consumers bite?


Allowing cheaper health plans designed to cover just half of medical costs to be sold on the exchanges would result in 350,000 additional individuals enrolling in coverage in the next decade, according to an analysis by Avalere Health.

Because of associated lower premiums for such plans, the federal government would spend $5.8 billion less on subsidies by 2024. But it would also take in $5.5 billion less in fines from individuals and companies that failed to meet the mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The net impact would be a $300 million reduction in the deficit over the course of a decade.
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Premera Blue Cross adds Seattle Children's to settle dispute


Premera Blue Cross will add Seattle Children's hospital to its provider network for plans sold on Washington state's insurance exchange, ending a long-running dispute over network adequacy.

Starting Sept. 1, Seattle Children's will be part of the networks for individual and small-group plans that were sold through Washington Healthplanfinder in 2014. The hospital system also will be included in the provider network for 2015 plans.
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Criticism of Oregon's med-mal mediation law off base, lawmaker says


Conger
An Oregon law to encourage settlement of medical malpractice claims through disclosure, apology and compensation has taken heat from HHS and the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen because it exempts some claims from being reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. But the bill's sponsor said the criticisms misinterpret the measure's intent.

“It wasn't specifically designed so incidents of malpractice would be kept hidden, which is what has been implied,” said Oregon state Rep. Jason Conger, a Republican who sponsored the bill.
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