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Reform Update: Anthem's Vivity alliance with seven L.A. systems aims at Kaiser
September 17, 2014
News of an unusual joint venture between Anthem Blue Cross and seven Los Angeles health systems signaled new competition for Kaiser Permanente, the integrated health system with one of California's largest insurers. It also underscores the eagerness across the industry to broker novel and riskier...

Americans endure unwanted care near death: IOM study
September 18, 2014
Americans suffer needless discomfort and undergo unwanted and costly care as they die, in part because of a medical system ruled by "perverse incentives" for aggressive care and not enough conversation about what people want, according to a report released Wednesday.

8% of patients stop taking Sovaldi, CVS study finds
September 17, 2014
About 8% of the patients who started taking Sovaldi to treat hepatitis C discontinued their treatment regimen prior to its conclusion, according to an analysis released Wednesday by CVS Health. The findings raise questions about how effective the costly drug will be in a larger patient population...

Medicare ACOs improve quality, have mixed results on slowing spending, CMS says
September 16, 2014
The participants in Medicare's programs for accountable care organizations have continued to produce mixed results. Quality broadly improved but savings proved more elusive among the early participants.

New Anthem network makes business case for HMO-ACO hybrid
September 17, 2014
Anthem Blue Cross Vivity, the newly announced joint venture among WellPoint subsidiary Anthem and seven prominent Southern California providers, will blend both the past and future as its planned HMO-like structure also looks to implement elements found in today's accountable care organizations.

With Kaiser in sight, Anthem creates new plan with major California hospitals
September 17, 2014
Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross and seven competing health systems in Southern California are joining forces to create a new health plan that executives believe will enhance competition in the area while reducing healthcare costs.

Intermountain Healthcare improves patient engagement
September 13, 2014
Nearly two years ago, leaders at Intermountain Healthcare, a 21-hospital system based in Salt Lake City, made a seemingly small but critical wording change to its organizational strategy.

Reform Update: Will Anthem's Vivity gain traction among large employers?
September 18, 2014
Anthem Blue Cross' new health plan partnership with seven hospital systems has grabbed the attention of healthcare stakeholders nationally, but questions loom about the ability of the HMO-like plan to catch on and draw interest from its main target market—large, fully insured employers in Los...

Providence Health launches $150 million tech venture fund
September 18, 2014
Providence Health & Services, the fifth-largest not-for-profit system in the country by revenue, has started a venture capital fund to develop innovative, consumer-driven technology. A former Amazon.com executive will run the new undertaking.

Slow Ebola response blamed on false assumptions about its course
September 17, 2014
Health experts and humanitarian organizations waging war against the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa hope plans announced Tuesday by the Obama Administration to send additional aid to affected regions will encourage more philanthropic support and health worker recruitment. Both money and...

Wearable activity trackers: Do they help health and wellness?
September 17, 2014
The attention given Apple's new smartwatch and Health app has brought the debate center stage over whether wearable activity trackers conform to best evidence-based practices—and whether they work as promised. Authors of a just-published study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research...

Wake Forest, WakeMed, Vidant form non-ownership alliance
September 17, 2014
Three health systems in North Carolina have formed a non-ownership alliance that will allow them to share back-office functions while still maintaining their independence.

ACA co-op plans retool for 2015 open enrollment
September 16, 2014
Many consumer-governed insurance plans that struggled to attract customers during the first year of open enrollment are aggressively pricing and retooling products to be more competitive when the exchanges re-open for business on Nov. 15.

CT scans may be overused for detecting kidney stones
September 17, 2014
Using an ultrasound rather than a CT scan for patients suspected of having kidney stones could be preferable to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure, concludes a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. No significant differences were evident in detecting high-risk diagnoses, serious...

Security assessment planned for HealthCare.gov, Tavenner vows
September 18, 2014
The CMS plans to perform, by the end of September, a comprehensive security assessment of Healthcare.gov to determine if any site vulnerabilities exist, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said at a congressional hearing Thursday.

Apple iOS 8 software bug affects health apps
September 18, 2014
A bug in Apple's new iOS 8 software for mobile devices is prompting the company to withhold apps that use a highly touted feature for keeping track of fitness and health data.

VA whistle-blowers blast conclusion that waits didn't cause deaths
September 17, 2014
The Veterans Affairs Department physicians who blew the whistle on long waits at the VA's Phoenix hospital portrayed the department's review of the scandal as a whitewash during a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

AMA pleads for more user-friendly EHRs
September 16, 2014
The American Medical Association is targeting the usability—or lack thereof—of electronic health-record systems as part of a broader campaign to improve physician satisfaction.

Double-digit premium hikes common in pre-ACA small-group market
September 17, 2014
Average premium increases in the small-group market typically ranged from 5% to 6.5% in most states from 2000 to 2013, according to a new analysis of insurance data from researchers at the Urban Institute. But double-digit increases were not unusual and the breadth of changes varied significantly...

Privia Health secures $400 million for national expansion
September 16, 2014
Privia Health, which provides practice-management tools to independent physician practices, has secured $400 million in new funding that will allow it to launch a nationwide expansion strategy.

Partners HealthCare to develop IT systems with Sunquest to interpret, share genomic data
September 18, 2014
Partners HealthCare has forged a deal with Sunquest Information Systems, a diagnostic and laboratory software company, to develop tools that will make it easier for geneticists and pathologists to interpret and share genomic information.

CPI for hospitals unchanged in August, up 4.1% year-to-year
September 18, 2014
Inpatient hospital prices were flat and outpatient hospital prices declined 0.3% last month, the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index show. Overall, hospital prices were unchanged in August.

Carol Solomon: targeting chronic illness in New Orleans
August 29, 2014
Cajun and Creole foods and a “let the good times roll” attitude make New Orleans and its surrounding parishes a great place to visit, but they're also among the contributing factors making it difficult for residents to maintain healthy lifestyles. Statewide figures show Louisiana has...

Digital health companies want more HIPAA clarity
September 16, 2014
Acting on concerns about a lack of clarity for the privacy rules in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a group of digital health companies and a trade association is asking for administrative changes to clear the way for entrepreneurs.

Cleveland Clinic to launch Center for Functional Medicine
September 16, 2014
The Cleveland Clinic announced it will launch a center that focuses on how lifestyle factors contribute to chronic disease. The new Center for Functional Medicine, which the clinic said is the first of its kind at an academic medical center, will open Sept. 23 and will be led by Dr. Mark Hyman, a...

CMS expects Medicare Advantage 2015 premiums to be flat for most enrollees
September 18, 2014
The average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage plans in 2015 will be $33.90—an increase of $2.94, or 9.5%, over the current year. But as a result of more individuals seeking out lower-cost plans, the CMS estimates that the average premium hike will actually be $1.30 per month. And the...

County health department takes major tech step forward on privacy
September 16, 2014
Five behavioral health patients in Maryland, picking and choosing what information they want to share with their primary healthcare physicians, are among the vanguard of a paradigm shift going on in healthcare privacy, a public health official there says.

Calif. collaborative will first rely on Anthem for data analytics
September 17, 2014
Seven Southern California hospitals and healthcare systems combining with insurance giant Anthem to create a super-sized coordinated-care organization will be relying on more conventional data-sharing and analytics for care management and coordination, at least at first.

Obama creates task force to craft antibiotic-resistant bacteria battle plan
September 18, 2014
President Obama Thursday signed an executive order directing the formation of a task force led jointly by the secretaries of the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture to develop an action plan by Feb. 15 to carry out priorities laid out in the administration's new...

Heavyweights lead charge for more time on EHR meaningful use
September 16, 2014
A host of heavyweight healthcare organizations is calling for HHS to back off of the requirement to meet meaningful-use criteria for all of 2015 for the federally funded electronic health-record incentive payment program, insisting that the future of the program is at stake.

Fairview's health plan leaving Minnesota insurance exchange
September 16, 2014
In a surprising move that will shake up Minnesota's state-run Obamacare exchange, PreferredOne, a large provider-run health plan affiliated with Fairview Health Services, will drop out of the MNsure exchange for 2015, company and state officials announced Tuesday.

ACA open enrollment for 2015 causing anxiety for plans, providers
September 13, 2014
The 2014 Obamacare open enrollment period focused on signing up as many people as possible. But when enrollment for the second year of coverage opens on Nov. 15, the task for health plans, insurance brokers and navigators will be more complex.

Obama announces increased U.S. efforts against Ebola
September 15, 2014
President Barack Obama has outlined a heightened U.S. effort to fight the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

Reform Update: Premiums may prevent low-income residents from enrolling in Medicaid, experts say
September 16, 2014
Hungry to get holdout states to expand Medicaid, the Obama administration has been increasingly willing to allow them to impose premiums and cost-sharing on low-income residents. But policy experts generally agree that the fees will mean many newly eligible people won't enroll, and some say the...

Number of uninsured cut by 3.8 million in first quarter of 2014
September 16, 2014
The number of individuals lacking health insurance coverage decreased by 3.8 million in the first quarter of this year, according to federal statistics released Tuesday. The level of uninsured dropped from 14.4% to 13.1%, compared to the same period in 2013, according to the survey conducted by the...

Reform Update: Doctors order unnecessary tests without even realizing it
September 15, 2014
Physicians order unnecessary tests and procedures to inoculate themselves from legal liability more than they realize, according to a new survey of physicians at several hospitals in one Massachusetts health system.

House bill answers providers' anxiety over EHR reporting
September 17, 2014
With pressure mounting on HHS to make it easier for physicians and hospitals to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records, two U.S. House members have introduced a bill that would allow providers to use a 90-day reporting period in 2015 rather than an entire year.

Hospital, physician office prices remain flat in August
September 16, 2014
The moderate inflation that has helped slow health spending continued last month, as prices paid by insurers to physician offices and acute-care hospitals remained flat, federal figures show.

PreferredOne, leading plan in Minnesota, leaving state exchange
September 16, 2014
In a surprising move certain to shake up Minnesota's state-run exchange, PreferredOne, a large provider-owned health plan, announced it will drop out of the MNsure exchange for 2015.

As a proton therapy center closes, some see it as a sign
September 18, 2014
The Indiana University Proton Therapy Center will close in December, marking the first time a proton-beam therapy center in the U.S. has shut its doors since the rapid proliferation of the costly treatment centers began about a decade ago.

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