September 1, 2018 Recent News





Alphabet, the parent of Google, is putting $375 million into Ocare startup Oscar Health.  They want the money for starting into the Medicare HMO business.  Alphabet says this is strictly a financial investment not any collaboration.

Express Scripts is getting into the gene therapy business.  Their main business is being the middle man for the purchasing and distribution of pharmaceuticals.  Now they want to distribute exclusively new gene therapies when they are approved.  This is huge money drugs.  They already are the sole distributor for Luxturna, a $850,000 treatment for a rare genetic disorder that causes blindness and Spinraza, a $750,000 drug for spinal muscular atrophy.  

California Blue Shield is getting an even shoddier name than it already has.  People insured by Blue Shield are finding their coverage being cancelled. This is for those who purchased Ocare policies as individuals.  Blue Shield blames the problem on a third party HealthPlan Services and the third party blames Blue Cross.  Both terrible organizations and deserve to lose huge monies. 

Anthem and Walmart have combined for OTC drugs for Medicare Advantage folk at reduced cost.  Walmart also is with Humana for reduced prescription drugs.  The Anthem collaboration begins in January.        Top


Central Maine Healthcare is in deep trouble.  The staff of the three hospitals it owns voted for  no confidence in the CEO Jeff Brickman which led to the board of directors changing the bylaws to give doctors more say but affirming their convidence in Brickman.  After that vote the president of two of the three hospitals resigned.  Physicians are leaving the system at an alarming rate, now at 27.1% this year.  That translates to 80 of 300 physicians.  When Brickman was hired two years earlier he made many changes including getting rid of many from the prior administration and changing some programs.  The staff view Brickman as a bottom line manager without concern regarding patients or staff.  He has cut support staff meaning those who remain are doing much more.  The physicians are pressured to see a patient each 15 minutes meaning they had to enter EMR information at the end of the day on their down time.  The administrators that remained commented for the story and sounded like administrators with half answers.

In another story in the ProPublica it was disclosed that the heart transplant program at Baylor St. Luke's medical Center will lose its federal funding.  The CMS contends that the hospital has not done enough to correct deficiencies in care that led to high patient mortality.  

At the same time as Teva's Epipen was approved Kaiser is getting a black eye for their miserliness, nothing new.  This time it may be deadly as they are only giving out one Epipen as a time instead of the needed two.  In some cases it takes two shots to stop an anaphylactic reaction.  Kaiser does not even use the Epipen but a cheap knock off.  Studies have shown that between 16% and 36% of patients require a second dose.  They are also charging the full copay for half the dosage.

Olean General Hospital has decided to put patient lives in danger for the almighty buck.  They went for the cheaper anesthesiology contract who uses anesthesiologists to oversee nurse anesthetists but not do anesthesia.  Their current anesthesiologists do the surgical procedures so they are more expensive.  The current group lives in and therefore shops in the community whereas the new group are interlopers.

Kaiser has reported that for the first half of 2018 the recorded very high revenue but their net was down 21%.  Part was due to a 12% decrease in their operating income due to lower investment income.  They did gain about 400,000 members in the first six months.          Top


NYU is making its medical school free in order to try and get more physicians to have less debt and therefore to go into primary care.  Tuition for the NYU School of Medicine is now $55,018 per year.  The off does not include the average $29,000 per year in room and board expenses.

The Milwaukee Journal has an hatchet artilcle regarding the disconnect between FDA warning letters and state medical boards.  It tells of the case of Dr. Marc Lazzaro, who was doing research on a brain device but may not have complied with fed regs regarding protecting patients.  The medical board never saw the letter but even if they had would he have needed any action?  

Some physicians are just liars or have conflicts that are not disclosed.  Dr. Michael Holick has pushed the use of Vitamin D and has written books and other materials on the vitamin.  It now comes out that Dr. Holick has been paid well for his opinion by the indoor tanning industry as well as the makers of vitamin D and let's not forget the clinical lab Quest that tests for the drug.  Dr. Holick was asked to and did resign from the Dermatology Department at Boston University.  He is still a professor at the department of endocrinology etal.  Is there a epidemic of low Vitamin D or is there only a wrong and too high normal level perpetrated by the labs and Dr. Holick.        Top


 DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.