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Vital Signs Blog

Blog: CDC alcohol warning results in hangover for agency

Women (and men) on social media are lashing out at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accusing the federal health agency of overstepping its boundaries. The agency warned women of child-bearing age who are not currently using birth control about the risks of drinking alcohol.

Blog: Insurers' moves suggest yearning for old cherry-picking days

A new report shows that major health insurers are moving away from the Affordable Care Act's reformed insurance market to the days of favoring healthier customers. That could bolster Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' argument to abolish private insurance.

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Blog: Trump trumps GOP rivals on healthcare empathy as Iowans caucus

The word empathy doesn't usually come to mind when people think about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. But compared to his GOP rivals Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, Trump came off looking like Mother Teresa over the weekend, just before Iowa voters participate in presidential selection...

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Blog: Cruz delinks rhetoric and healthcare reality in debate comments

There's a big disconnect between Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz's promise to make health insurance more portable and affordable and what he's actually proposed so far.

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Blog: A closer look at Sanders' single-payer plan could give pause to Democratic primary voters

Now that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has released an outline of his “Medicare for All” health coverage plan, will Democratic primary voters consider whether his plan is or isn't viable—or simply vote with their hearts for their single-payer ideal?

Blog: Harvard project gets new funds for helping patients control their data

A Harvard University data privacy program won a $450,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to expand its efforts to allow patients and other consumers to map where their personally identifiable information goes and with whom it is shared.

Blog: Patient suicides among top sentinel events hospitals reported in 2015

Objects left inside patients, wrong-site surgeries and patient suicides were the most frequent sentinel events reported to the Joint Commission in 2015, according to preliminary data provided to Modern Healthcare.

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Blog: Hospitals sponsor most new Medicare Advantage plans, Aetna-funded study says

Health systems and other provider organizations represent a majority of the new participants in the Medicare Advantage program, according to a new Avalere Health study. The paper serves as another talking point for a certain large insurer under the government's antitrust lens right now.

Blog: Incentives for quality a challenge for ACOs

Pediatricians in an ACO who received small incentives to improve quality did so, but not as significantly as doctors employed by a hospital, a new study found. The findings underscore the challenge that policymakers and the industry face as payers increasingly seek to tie payment to performance.

Blog: Healthcare's mission makes it vulnerable to 'social engineering'

A new report states that healthcare's mission of saving lives, its goal of sharing patient data in order to improve treatments, and its largely low investment in cybersecurity makes it attractive to hackers.

Blog: Better nursing-staffing equals lower mortality

The biggest difference between hospitals with more nurses and those with fewer was felt by the sickest patients getting the riskiest surgeries. The better staffed the hospital, the less likely the patient would die or need to be sent to intensive-care services.

Blog: Dying docs opt for less aggressive end-of-life care

Doctors facing death may be less likely to seek surgery or visit the intensive-care unit during the last six months of their lives when compared to non-clinicians. They are also less likely to ultimately die in a hospital, according to studies posted Tuesday in JAMA that looked at use of...

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Blog: Barack Obama's public health legacy for African-Americans

Will African-Americans feel dispirited and disempowered when President Obama steps down and is succeeded by a non-black person during a time of heightened concerns about racial and economic inequality? Could that affect health outcomes in the black community? One public health expert thinks Obama...

Blog: NEJM writers confuse 'Medical Taylorism' with 'Lean'

The latest New England Journal of Medicine launches a frontal attack on the application of Toyota's Lean manufacturing techniques to healthcare settings. How its writers got it wrong.

Blog: Privacy experts say Coburn op-ed misses the mark

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn attacked the federal health information privacy laws haphazardly, according to a privacy legal expert, and egregiously, according to a leading privacy advocate. Experts say that in mentioning specifically the federal privacy law, he mixed research governed under the...

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Blog: Hillary's attacks on Sanders' single-payer proposal may be risky in Iowa

Conversations this month with Democratic Party officials and voters in Iowa raise questions about the political wisdom of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's attacks on rival Bernie Sanders over his support for a Medicare-for-all health insurance system.

Blog: GOP block grant model sours Obama's Medicaid expansion sweetener

The White House has come up with a good way to convince more states to expand Medicaid to low-income adults but congressional Republicans are almost certain to reject it. They have their own very different ideas on what to do with the program.

Blog: Liberal and conservative reformers press candidates on ACA changes

Liberal healthcare policy experts are urging an ambitious, costly program to expand and improve the ACA's coverage while conservative policy mavens are promoting an even more ambitious replacement package. The proposals are efforts to frame the options for the next president and Congress.

Blog: Anthem jabs Express Scripts on drug prices (and more from the JP Morgan investor conference)

Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish told analysts and investors in San Francisco on Tuesday that the company is overpaying for its drugs by $3 billion a year and is renegotiating prices with Express Scripts, the company that manages its pharmacy benefits.

Blog: Skin in the game gets personal for doctors

Physicians are finding themselves being held financially accountable for their medical choices, and they don't much like the skin-in-the-game model or metaphor.

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Blog: Why state AGs want a piece of the feds' insurance merger reviews

More than a dozen state attorneys general reportedly joined the U.S. Justice Department's investigation into the two massive insurance mergers in the pipeline. That's likely because they want a say in the terms of any deals struck with the companies—and to score political points.

Blog: Health systems at JP Morgan conference say they're still looking for deals

Expect more acquisitions, joint ventures, affiliations and health plan expansion from U.S. hospitals this year. Executives of some the largest U.S. hospital operators revealed their plans Monday in pitches to investors and analysts in San Francisco.

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