- The American Hospital Association sent a letter last week to the U.S. Department of Justice, saying that mergers involving four of the nation's largest insurers could affect access, affordability and innovation in healthcare. The letter focused chiefly on the recently announced merger between Anthem and Cigna Corp. It urged the DOJ to pay close attention to the deal, though it stopped short of asking the DOJ to block it. Anthem responded in a statement that “ensuring consumers have access to affordable health coverage and quality care is the foundation of the proposed transaction.” The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights has invited the CEOs of the four insurers to testify at a hearing on the deals set for Sept. 22.
American Hospital Association says insurers' mergers could affect access, affordability and innovation in healthcare, and other news
- Hospitals added 15,700 positions in July, more than doubling June's increase, according to seasonally adjusted numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But hospitals, so far, have struggled to find hiring traction this year. The sector added 14,200 jobs in May, but that slipped 4.7% from April's job additions. And in March, the sector added only 7,900 jobs, plummeting 19.4% from February's 9,800 additions. But that was a 16.9% decrease from the 11,800 jobs hospitals added in January. Healthcare overall added 27,900 jobs in July, but that was still down 35.1% from the updated figure of 40,200 jobs in June.
- President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that requires hospitals to notify Medicare patients when they are receiving observation care but have not been admitted. The bill is meant to help address a recurring problem for beneficiaries who face sticker shock when they go to a skilled-nursing or rehabilitation facility after leaving the hospital and find that Medicare won't cover the tab. That's because to qualify for skilled-nursing facility coverage, beneficiaries must first spend three consecutive midnights as an admitted inpatient; observation days don't count.
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