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Vital Signs Blog

Blog: NEJM's confusion on journalism ethics

A three-part series on conflicts of interest in medicine by the new national correspondent for the New England Journal of Medicine calls into question the wisdom of exposing such conflicts. The series has provoked a firestorm of criticism and reveals its author's misunderstanding of journalism...

Blog: Health insurer M&A chatter heats up, but is it overhyped?

The health insurance industry has been abuzz the past few weeks with speculation that a big merger is near. Aetna, Anthem, Cigna Corp. and Humana have all been at its epicenter. But do the rumblings really predict a seismic deal?

Blog: California Medical Association's new stance on assisted suicide could help legalization bill

The California Medical Association Wednesday became the first state medical association in the country to shift from opposing physician aid-in-dying to a adopting a neutral stance—a move that supporters of legalizing the practice hope will improve its chances there and in other states.

Blog: Expert calls Brookings estimate on lifetime obesity costs too low

A study by the Brookings Center for Social Dynamics and Policy pegged the average lifetime cost of obesity at $92,235. But at least one doctor, with a professional and personal interest in the subject, said that estimate was too conservative.

Blog: Clinicians frustrated when pay tied to teamwork

When Fairview Health Services rewarded clinicians based on their team's overall performance, the system noted improvements in collaboration and collective quality performance. But the approach also stoked substantial frustration among staff.

Blog: Drug costs exceed $100,000 a year for more Americans

Blog: Drug costs exceed $100,000 a year for more Americans

The number of patients taking at least $100,000 worth of prescription drugs annually tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to new research by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts. High-cost medications for hepatitis C and cancer were among the biggest cost drivers.

Blog: Three companies cover half of Medicare Part D members

Blog: Three companies cover half of Medicare Part D members

More than 50% of Medicare's 39 million Part D enrollees have their prescription drug coverage through one of three insurers.

Blog: If income inequality hurts the economy, can fixing healthcare help?

Blog: If income inequality hurts the economy, can fixing healthcare help?

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says in a new report that the U.S. could address income inequality and strengthen the economy by expanding Medicare and allowing Part D to negotiate all drug prices.

Blog: Two healthcare groups shed fossil-fuel investments

Blog: Two healthcare groups shed fossil-fuel investments

Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth will fully divest fossil-fuel stocks from investment assets, becoming the first U.S. healthcare organizations to do so.

Blog: Small group of Medicaid patients account for a large part of program costs

The most expensive 5% of Medicaid beneficiaries nationally accounted for nearly half of program spending from 2009 to 2011, the Government Accountability Office reports.

Blog: Calif. providers, insurers launch campaign for higher Medicaid rates

A coalition of hospital, insurance, physician, nursing and other healthcare groups unveiled a $10 million campaign Monday urging the state of California to fully fund Medi-Cal and bring provider payments in line with rates paid by Medicare.

Blog: Baltimore unrest draws attention to health disparities

Two prominent Baltimore public health physicians have called on the city's healthcare professionals to use their economic and human resources to address the underlying causes of social unrest.

Blog: Indiana works to contain HIV outbreak; Minnesota reports more cases

Blog: Indiana works to contain HIV outbreak; Minnesota reports more cases

The number of reported HIV cases continues to creep upward in a rural Indiana county as state health and government officials seek to contain an outbreak that has received national attention. In a study of contrasts, a recent report of increased HIV cases in Minnesota garnered little attention.

Blog: Do criminal attacks pose biggest threat now to healthcare data?

Criminal attacks have more than doubled over the past five years and are now the most common cause of healthcare data breaches, according to the Ponemon Institute's fifth annual survey on healthcare data security.

Blog: Getting personalized medicine—what's in a name?

The terms personalized medicine and genomic medicine pop up regularly in hospital marketing efforts. But there is no consensus on what to call this new brand of medicine that's based on the medical effects of the human genome, the constellation of 25,000 genes that make up each person.

Blog: ONC guide offers narrow view of privacy, security rules

HHS has a revised guide to privacy and security for electronic health information that's intended to help smaller healthcare organizations that lack a legal staff. The guide, however, gives scant attention to several important regulatory areas.

Blog: ER docs say ACA has not lowered patient volume

Blog: ER docs say ACA has not lowered patient volume

Provisions in the Affordable Care Act aimed at diverting emergency department visits have had little effect, according to a new survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The group says that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Blog: New York private insurance still mostly pays fee-for-service

New York hospitals and physicians continue to earn nearly all of their private insurance revenue from fee-for-service, though roughly one-third of payments are tied to performance.

Blog: Ascension hospitals see higher margins in Medicaid expansion states

Blog: Ascension hospitals see higher margins in Medicaid expansion states

More Medicaid patients, even at low reimbursement rates, delivered a financial boost to Ascension Health hospitals in states that expanded their Medicaid programs. It's an increase that wasn't seen in the system's non-expansion states.

Blog: Strapped state exchanges get by on misused federal grants

Blog: Strapped state exchanges get by on misused federal grants

State health insurance exchanges were required to be financially self-sustaining by now, but many have struggled to come up with viable funding sources and continue to rely heavily—and inappropriately—on federal grant dollars, according to HHS' inspector general's office.

Blog: Should Medicare make the switch to electronic cards?

Blog: Should Medicare make the switch to electronic cards?

Medicare could benefit by moving to a system of electronic cards, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. But such a switch could be costly for providers and create a host of problems with current electronic health records.

Blog: Rating a politician's claim that Medicaid kills

One of Florida's most powerful Republicans reportedly is using the results of a narrow study focusing on surgical outcomes to insinuate that extending Medicaid to more Americans increases their chances of dying.

Blog: VA Secretary McDonald warns of next crisis in veterans healthcare

Congress would “help create another crisis" in veterans healthcare if it doesn't approve the president's full budget request for the Veterans Affairs Department, VA Secretary Robert McDonald said Friday.

Blog: Missing Apple Watch sensors found, but mystery continues

Blog: Missing Apple Watch sensors found, but mystery continues

Disassembling new gadgets is a geek ritual with every technology release. The gadget-head community who tore apart the Apple Watch found a pulse oximeter that the company has mysteriously chosen not to activate.

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