Sept. 17: Although healthcare isn’t the focus of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, mega-mergers very well may come up as lawmakers delve into the government’s enforcement of antitrust laws. Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department officials are slated to testify. A federal judge this month officially signed off on CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna, putting aside antitrust concerns raised by physician groups and others. State officials have been taking a closer look at the potential for antitrust implications of major health system mergers as well.
Sept. 18: This month, HHS’ Office of Inspector General raised significant concerns about the mental healthcare that children in the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s custody are getting. While acknowledging some of the challenges ORR faces, including addressing trauma that occurred before the child arrived in the U.S., the watchdog agency reported that “policy changes in 2018 exacerbated” some of ORR’s woes “as they resulted in longer stays in ORR custody and a rapid increase in the number of younger children—many of whom had been separated from their parents after entering the United States.” Jonathan Hayes, ORR acting director; and Ann Maxwell from the OIG, will detail the issue before a House Appropriations subcommittee.
Sept. 19: The CMS’ much maligned hospital star-rating system is getting an overhaul, but not until 2021. And the agency still plans to refresh the ratings on Hospital Compare using the current methodology in early 2020. The ratings were last updated in February. Agency officials are sure to get lots of pointed opinions about the ratings during a listening session at its Baltimore office. Maria Castellucci, Modern Healthcare’s quality and safety reporter who has been all over this story for the past year, will be tuning in via web conference.