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It's not just the ACA—employer-sponsored insurance was already eroding



The number of private-sector workers who get health insurance through their employer has been declining steadily since well before the Great Recession and nearly a decade before the healthcare reform law took effect, according to a new analysis published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

FDA getting quicker at reviewing new drugs, study participants say



Pharmaceutical industry leaders indicate the federal government's review process for the approval of new drugs and medical devices has improved in recent years, according to new report. But questions remain regarding whether changes to the regulatory process are needed to ensure quicker release of...

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The health insurance stock boom



Investors in health insurance companies will surely celebrate the upcoming five-year anniversary of Obamacare, a law that aggressively restricts how insurers do business but nevertheless brought them huge gains in the stock market.

Acquisition-hungry Emdeon kicking the IPO tires



Payments and revenue-cycle-management firm Emdeon is contemplating an initial public offering, according to a report in financial publication The Street. If completed, the offering would return the firm to the public markets; it had most recently gone public in August 2009, before being bought out...

CDC finds high opioid Rx rates for women of child-bearing age



High prescription rates for opioid medications among reproductive-age women are raising concerns about the risks associated with their use and the development of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

States make strides, but Medicaid sign-up tech woes continue



States have made major strides in automating their processes used to determine eligibility for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. But challenges remain in verifying user data and re-enrolling certain populations.

Docs make fewer diagnostic mistakes in teams, study finds



Teamwork may be one way to help reduce the incidence of diagnostic mistakes, in which patients' conditions are missed, delayed or diagnosed incorrectly, a study suggests. When two doctors worked together, their confidence in a diagnosis was boosted and their determination was more accurate.

Companies still struggling to comply with ACA's employer mandate



Most companies do not feel fully prepared to comply with Obamacare's employer mandate even though it went into effect at the start of January, according to a study recently conducted by ADP, a benefits consulting firm.

Whistling past the graveyard on Obamacare threats



Top healthcare executives who gathered in San Francisco this past week at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference widely agreed that the healthcare reform law's coverage expansion and other provisions are not in jeopardy at the hands of congressional Republicans or the Supreme Court. Really?

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Is 3-D mammography cost-effective?



There is an economic benefit for payers and patients when using tomosynthesis, a more advanced form of mammography, to screen women for breast cancer at a time when adoption of the new technology is growing, researchers conclude in a study.

If CHIP ends, what happens to poor children's healthcare access?



A federal advisory panel next week will examine the healthcare challenges low-income children and their families will face if Congress does not renew funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program this year.

Here comes this year's Medicare doc-fix exercise



The perennial congressional battle over repealing Medicare's sustainable growth-rate payment formula for physicians will kick off Wednesday. Two days of hearings before the House Energy and Commerce Committee will seek to find common ground on a permanent fix to the despised payment formula.

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J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference: Day 3 notebook



Hospital chain Universal Health Services executives explained their U.K. play, and soon-to-be Kindred Healthcare CEO Ben Breier updated investors on the recent Gentiva buy. Other presenters included Stryker and HealthNet.

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Iowa co-op insurer's plight has Grassley asking questions



Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who sits on the Finance Committee, is seeking answers about why the CMS refused to provide additional funding to CoOportunity Health, a failed not-for-profit health plan operating in Iowa and Nebraska.

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Here's one Emanuel reader who won't skip his annual physical



University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel struck again with this recommendation: Skip your annual physical because it's “worthless.” This after the healthcare reform law he played a role in crafting made such exams available to many Americans free of charge.

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J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference: Day 2 notebook



Insurers were bullish on their prospects and circumspect on an expected rash of M&A. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said it will “take one big transaction to tip the whole thing off.”

North Carolina Blues plan unloads price transparency surprise



There's a fascinating story out of North Carolina about that state's largest insurer unexpectedly publishing information on how much it pays healthcare providers for a wide range of elective, non-emergency services. Providers were not pleased.

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J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference: Day 1 notebook



The 2015 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco got off to a feverish start Monday. Here are some quick observations and news tidbits.

Obamacare subsidies case, Ebola top readers' minds in 2014



We asked our readers to pick the best and most important stories of 2014, and the results match the level of upheaval the events caused in the industry.

Insurance doesn't guarantee immunity from medical debt



Medical debt has long been pointed to as a major contributor to Americans' personal financial woes and personal bankruptcy filings. While some try to counter that contention, evidence keeps emerging to fuel the debate.

Should Dems keep ACA bargaining chips in case Supreme Court strikes down subsidies?



A few Senate Democrats reportedly are weighing whether to support the GOP bill to revise the definition of full-time work from 30 hours a week to 40 under the ACA's employer mandate. What might they be thinking with a greater threat around the corner?

Population health improvement still a riddle wrapped in an enigma



Perhaps nowhere is the value of promoting healthy behaviors more uncertain than in federal initiatives to extend care into neighborhoods and homes.

Losing subsidies would cause 10 million to drop insurance



Nearly 10 million fewer Americans will enroll in health insurance coverage through the individual market if the U.S. Supreme Court invalidates subsidies for those buying insurance on HealthCare.gov in the 34 states that haven't established their own exchanges, according to a new study released by...

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Healthcare tech hype, and a warning, surface at Consumer Electronics Show



The boom times in healthcare gadgetry are on display at this week's International Consumer Electronics Show. But the show also featured FTC Chair Edith Ramirez warning that tech companies need to do a better job with data security.

Americans spent more of their own money on healthcare in past decade



Out-of-pocket expenses for households with employer-sponsored insurance grew faster than overall health spending during the decade that ended in 2013, according to an analysis of medical bills for workers with health benefits from self-insured employers.

Thumbs up for keeping medical education a four-year deal



Medical school leaders have debated shortening the duration of their M.D. programs, but medical students, alumni and faculty at Ohio State University seem pretty content with four years.

CVS strikes deal to offer Gilead's hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi, Harvoni



The battle over market share for the three newest and costliest hepatitis C drugs continues. And this time, Gilead Sciences wins the round. CVS Health, one of the nation's largest pharmacy benefit managers, said this week it will exclusively offer patients seeking treatment for hepatitis C the...

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How Obamacare is affecting health insurance enrollment



Obamacare has expanded health insurance to millions of Americans, and the latest enrollment data show that the individual and managed Medicaid markets have ballooned the most over the past year.

Republican legislators join lawsuit attacking exchange subsidies



A group of influential Republican legislators has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court calling for insurance subsidies to be invalidated in states that haven't established their own exchanges.

Obama and Reinhardt strain to explain ignorance about Obamacare



The American people aren't stupid but they are ignorant about Obamacare, the eminent Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt recently wrote in a Health Affairs blog post.

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