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Hospitals, 'friend' Facebook; quality ratings could benefit



Hospitals may want to devote more attention to the power of social media, according to a recent study looking at the correlation between hospitals' Facebook ratings and how well they performed on 30-day readmission rates.

Reducing health disparities: It takes more than access to care



A new study shows that U.S. counties with the highest income inequality have worse health outcomes. But it will take more than giving people access to healthcare to reduce the differences in outcomes between the social classes.

Medicaid 'gun to the head' test depends on which Supreme Court case you consider



When is a gun to the head OK and when is it not? The Supreme Court is making that difficult to know.

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Retiring Harry Reid vows to keep fighting to preserve his landmark healthcare law



Working closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi five years ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid achieved a treasured goal that had eluded Democratic leaders since Franklin Delano Roosevelt—enactment of a national health insurance program expanding coverage to most Americans.

States never considered subsidy issue in exchange decisions, report finds



Strong new evidence has emerged undercutting one of the key arguments Obamacare foes are using in their U.S. Supreme Court case to disallow premium subsidies in states using the federal insurance exchange.

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Obama wishes ACA a happy 5th; Congress tries to kill it, again



President Barack Obama on Wednesday remained upbeat and defiant against Affordable Care Act naysayers during a White House event to celebrate the controversial law's fifth birthday.

EHR vendors study whether they can deliver on Stage 3 demands



EHR developers are hoping the draft regulations issued Friday prove more flexible and focused than earlier editions that led to delays in software certification and tripped up providers trying to meet the requirements for using the technology.

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Did Justice Kennedy offer a clue to the King v. Burwell decision?



Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy told lawmakers Monday that the justices shouldn't take congressional gridlock into account when making decisions, a statement some think might mean he will side with the challengers in King v. Burwell.

Why it's safer for Republicans to target Medicaid than Medicare



It's not surprising that Senate Republicans have chosen to distance themselves from the House Republican plan to convert Medicare into a defined-benefit voucher program. It's also not surprising they decided to join their House colleagues in pressing to convert Medicaid into some type of capped...

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Republicans eye budget maneuver to pass GOP subsidies fix



House Ways and Means Chair Paul Ryan says Republicans need to have a plan in place by June 20 to respond if the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in up to 37 states.

Why Senate Democrats have been cool to Medicare SGR deal



The two top Democrats in Congress apparently are tussling behind the scenes over the deal to repeal and replace the Medicare physician-payment formula, and it could be because one feels left on the sidelines.

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UnitedHealthcare spotlights odd injuries in new ad campaign



Health insurer UnitedHealthcare is highlighting ICD-9 medical codes and quirky injuries in its first national consumer-facing ad campaign.

'Did the surgery work?' California registry asks patients



A California-based orthopedic surgery registry posted new data this week that takes a different approach to showing how well patients fared within one year of undergoing common, often expensive, musculoskeletal procedures.

Why providers should care more about Medicare Advantage



Private insurers have eyed Medicare Advantage as a huge opportunity for growth. Providers would be well-served to partner more with those health plans, according to two healthcare leaders.

A human touch with patient complaints could mean fewer lawsuits



Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, N.C., dramatically reduced the number of lawsuits it faces and its professional liability insurance premiums after adopting a specific methodology for handling patient complaints and grievances.

Proposed SGR deal would advance GOP goal of privatizing Medicare



The proposed bipartisan House deal to repeal and replace Medicare's hated sustainable growth-rate physician payment system offers Republicans a chance to make two significant benefit changes they've long sought. Now it remains to be seen if they can accept and lock in that victory.

When it comes to pricing Sovaldi, how NICE of them



New cost-effectiveness analyses of Sovaldi and other treatments to treat chronic hepatitis C infection suggest U.S. firms initially set prices near the ceiling that the United Kingdom's National Health Service will pay for drugs.

Why one self-insured hospital system invested in employee care management



Several years ago, Montefiore Health System in the Bronx was behind the curve when it came to health benefits costs for employees. So Montefiore implemented disease- and care-management programs to improve the health of employees before illnesses became more serious, and more expensive, problems.

Online petition asks Washington to control cancer drug prices



A grass-roots petition to improve the affordability of cancer drugs is gathering signatures—and stories—after being posted online this month. Two weeks in, nearly 4,000 people have signed the petition asking the president, HHS and lawmakers to protest against high cancer drug prices.

Hospitals need a paradigm shift to emphasize efficiency



Health systems that hope to profit under accountable care or bundled payments will likely fail to do so without plans to sharply cut hospitals' operating costs.

Drug costs fuel higher health spending growth



Spending on prescription drugs and health insurance overhead rose by double digits last year, making them the main drivers of higher estimated health spending, according to a new economic analysis.

HealthCare.gov targets Americans caught off guard by mandate



HealthCare.gov's special enrollment window for some consumers to get 2015 coverage starts Sunday, just as many of them realize they owe a tax penalty for failing to get health insurance last year.

New rules for medical-debt reporting could help consumers



Consumers with unpaid medical bills will get new leeway before those bills appear as black marks on their credit history under a new set of credit-reporting standards released this week.

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Fourth-quarter revenue and income rise for investor-owned chains



The five major for-profit hospital chains enjoyed impressive results in the last three months of 2014 as their numbers of paying patients increased in tandem with the economic recovery and the health insurance expansions under the Affordable Care Act.

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Jeb Bush's consumer-choice model offers questionable choices



Republican heavyweight Jeb Bush offered his ideas this past week on how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. His most concrete proposal could well worsen one of the biggest consumer problems under the ACA – high out-of-pocket costs.

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Chicago hospital kitchens need some cleaning up, report indicates



Recent inspections at several Chicago hospital kitchens revealed major issues with pests and food temperature control even as some patient-serving kitchens went years without being inspected.

Are Republicans, Chief Justice Roberts sweating King doomsday scenario?



Given the awful mess an anti-subsidy ruling in King v. Burwell would create, why wouldn't Congress and the White House instead repeal the entire law and put an end to the hemorrhaging?

Halting hospital mergers not the same as boosting competition



There is growing skepticism about provider claims that large healthcare combinations will lower costs by streamlining operations and providing better coordinated care. It would be a mistake to think preventing them will magically increase competition, much less achieve lower costs.

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Hold the pickles, lettuce ... and antibiotics, McDonald's says



First McDonald's and then Costco this week announced each would no longer source poultry that had been given antibiotics also used in human healthcare. The announcement represents a seismic shift that could have major positive benefits for healthcare.

Determining how many people have advance care directives



How many Americans have an advance care directive? It may be time for those asking the question to get more specific so more meaningful data can be collected.

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