Advocate Health Care plans to cut $200 million in expenses as financial pressures mount. Jim Skogsbergh, CEO of the Downers Grove, Ill.-based health system, insists the cuts aren't related to Advocate's lengthy battle trying to merge with Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem. Advocate spent $15 million in legal fees and other expenses related to the merger, the system said. Instead, the cuts are fueled by soaring debt from patients who can't afford to pay their medical bills. Reimbursement rates from Medicaid and Medicare don't cover how much it costs to treat patients, while payments from private insurers aren't making up the difference, Skogsbergh said. The state of Illinois, which hasn't approved a budget in nearly two years, also has not paid Advocate and other local providers.
A St. Louis jury has awarded a Virginia woman a record-setting $110.5 million in the latest lawsuit alleging that Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused cancer. The jury ruling last week for 62-year-old Lois Slemp, of Wise, Va., comes after three previous St. Louis juries awarded a total of $197 million to plaintiffs who made similar claims. Those cases, including the previous highest award of $72 million, are all under appeal. Slemp, who used the company's talcum-containing products for more than 40 years, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. Her cancer has spread to her liver, and she was too ill to attend the trial. About 2,000 state and federal lawsuits have been filed across the country over concerns about health problems caused by prolonged talcum powder use. Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that it would appeal.
Healthcare hiring rebounded by 19,500 jobs last month, a big lift over March. The April increase surpassed a disappointing 13,300 gain in March that analysts felt had been dampened by congressional efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The sector shook off those doubts in April, needing workers especially in outpatient settings. A January report by the Commonwealth Fund found that repealing key provisions of the ACA, including the insurance premium tax credits and Medicaid expansion, could lead to 2.6 million people losing their jobs in 2019.