Vital Signs

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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 Rogers.

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 Rogers, 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

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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Columnist attempts to sell conservatives on his healthcare reform plan

House Republicans repeatedly have voted to delay, defund and repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But as some conservatives have pointed out, it's unrealistic to think President Barack Obama would sign any legislation to repeal or roll back the legislation that defines his tenure and has produced the biggest changes to the healthcare system in the past half century.

House Republicans have never come together behind a comprehensive alternative to Obamacare. This week, however, the conservative Manhattan Institute fellow and Forbes columnist Avik Roy offered his own plan (Avikcare?) that would supplant the ACA. He told Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner that a fixation on defunding or repealing the law has to be squeezed out of the GOP's thinking.
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Wearing a device, not endorsing it (repeat not)

Can an item a public official is wearing be declared off the record for purposes of a news interview? I think not.

Modern Healthcare reporter Darius Tahir recently interviewed Dr. Karen DeSalvo, HHS' national coordinator for health information technology. She expressed discomfort with having it mentioned that she was wearing a personal fitness data tracker produced by a particular manufacturer. Her media handler who was present for the interview suggested to our reporter what language he should use in describing the device.

All this led to an amusing exchange about what should and should not be published.
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Patients should have access to network info before buying health plans: analyst

Regulators should back off health plans that give patients a limited choice of hospital and physician options or risk stifling innovation and raising prices, a health policy expert argues in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Instead, regulators should ensure patients have access to network information before they buy health plans, wrote David Howard, an economics and health policy associate professor at Emory University. Another option is for insurers to leave the trade-off between cost and choice to consumers through greater use of tiered networks.
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Allscripts users hear financial, population health pep talks

Allscripts CEO Paul Black, speaking Wednesday at the company's annual user conference, pivoted between assuring clients of the company's fiscal health and highlighting its focus on providers' needs for products geared toward population health management.

“We've tried to stabilize this beast,” said Black, of Allscripts' finances. “We've also created a boatload of momentum. Boatload is a financial term.”
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As U.S. diabetics live longer, the costs of care are rising

More Americans are developing diabetes during their adult lives and living longer with the disease, a new government study finds. The consequences of those developments include a potentially huge cost burden for the country's health system tasked with providing long-term care for those with this chronic disease.

Approximately 40% of those ages 20 and over were found to be at a lifetime risk of developing diabetes in 2011, according to an analysis, the findings of which were authored by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published online Wednesday in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
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Robin Williams' death a wake-up call for mental health workers

12 pm, Aug. 12 |

Williams (CBS)
Robin Williams' apparent suicide Monday has spurred a torrent of discussion across media channels about depression, bipolar disorder, suicide, addiction and mental health issues overall.

But his tragic passing, along with that in February of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a reminder that the typical American solution, throwing money at a problem, hasn't worked in terms of treating mental illness.
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