June 15, 2018 Recent News






The VA has announced they are going with Cerner for their EMR.  This is a $10 BILLION project.  They want this to eventually be across the board whether they are leaving the service, being treated at the VA or at a private facility.  

The VA is also not delivering on its promise to vets to have them see a private physician within 30 days.  The reason is in their sector not the physicians.  The VA does the scheduling and procrastinates.  They are an inept program.

The FDA is attempting to modernize.  They want to evaluate treatments for diseases caused by defective genes quicker.  They will at first look at hemophilia.  They are looking to change the endpoints from how many clotting episodes to how much clotting factor a patient was producing.  These therapies are usually intended to be used only once in a lifetime.

If anyone wonder the cost of federal subsidies here you go. The CBO says it costs the feds almost $700 Billion per year for the subsidies.  Almost $300 Billion go to Medicaid and CHIP.  Medicare disabled account for about $82 Billion and the Ocare subsides account for just $55 Billion.  Almost $300 Billion is for tax write-offs for businesses who provide health benefits.  This is about 3.4% of the gross domestic product, a huge number.  The feds collect about $21 Billion in taxes and penalties relating to the healthcare.  

The Medicare Trust Fund now will go broke three years earlier than previously believed.  The new end of the road in 2026.  The Social Security Trust Fund would be depleted by 20134.  They would have enough money to pay three-fourths of promise Social Security for 75 years.  This is based on a 2.4% increase in benefits.  The two programs account for about 40% of all federal spending.  The latest report also said the new tax cuts will have only modest effects on the finances of Medical and Social Security.  The major reason for the Medicare problem is higher payouts and for the Social Security is fewer workers to pay into the program. 

How is the partnership between CVS and Aetna going to save money?  By steering patients to to CVS stores for healthcare in walk-in clinics.  They want to continue to blur the lines between the insurer and provider.

In another article about the high cost of health care it discusses a case of a Mississippi man who had a stroke and was airlifted to a hospital.  He made a great recovery but then got a bill for $42,000 for the helicopter ride.  That bill was negotiated to $17,000 but he was asked to keep the discount secret.  He did not sign and told the press about the balance billing.  Air ambulances are not subject to state balance billing laws since there is a federal law prohibiting states from imposing price restrictions on airlines.  

California, the largest Ocare state, has said they expect a 12% decrease in enrollment and a 11% increase in premiums.  They say this is because it is now not required to purchase health insurance and when you give people choice they will act.  

Covered California is also putting the screws to the hospitals.  They have two years to meet designated targets for artificial quality and safety or be excluded from the exchange, if there still is one.  They must reduce C-Sections to a 23.9 or lower % for full term low risk birth, prescribe fewer opiods and cut back on imaging.  

California just finished their primary elections.  The Democrats running for state or national offices have been instructed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee not to mention the words "single payer".  


Although England does not have a HIPAA law, it does have some rules.  The BBC reported that two members of Ipswich Hospital were disciplined for accessing ED Sheehan's health details without permission.  One was warned and one was fired.  Neither were referred on the the British Nursing and Midwifery Councils.  


In a story that should be no surprise to anyone, the civil servants of Cook County, political appointees, screwed up.  The Cook County hospitals lost about $165 million over three years to clerical procedure and other errors.  The employees agree that many do not have the skills to do the jobs.  They just do not care.  The head of the Board of Supervisors which oversees the hospitals has not changed their outlook in the past 50 years.  They continue to embrace the status quo and patronage to the detriment of the institution.  The current Board head was critical of th report for minor things and did not address the elephant, patronage.

Sutter Health had a electronic communications problem which affected all 24 hospitals.  All EHR were shut down and some surgeries were delayed or cancelled.

The Mayo Clinic has joined Kaiser as a money making organization.  Mayo reported revenues of $3.1 Billion in the first quarter versus $2.9 billion last year.  They almost doubled their operating income from $101 million  to $198 million.  

After they cancelled their illegal contract to do drug tests Sonoma California's Palm Drive Hospital could no longer survive.  The hospital board has now seeking bids for the purchase of the Sonoma West Medical Center.  They want to remain a full service hospital with an emergency room.  They are now being sued for fraud by Anthem.

Alaska's Cordova Hospital has received a telecommunications bill for just shy of $1 million to be paid by June 30 or lose their telecommunications.  The hospital has not paid for a long time and when they did pay they only paid $1000 of a $80,000 bill due to federal help.  The problem is that the feds have reduced the amount they pay to help with telecommunications.  The hospital is now facing closure.

Hospitals where Anthem will hopefully take a financial hit due to the insurer only paying for MRI and CT scans at freestanding centers.  The national average for hospital scans is up to 2.49 times higher than freestanding units.  This is for outpatient tests only.  This down the line will lead to hospitals drastically cutting their prices.

The storied Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center in Houston has suspended their heart transplant program due to several recent deaths.  The suspended followed a local story about the large number of transplants resulting in death and the loss of surgeons.  Of the nine transplants in 2018 three have died.  

The original center of the VA problem, the Phoenix VA, still does not have its stuff together.  A recent inspection found deficient safety processes, geriatrics and mental health.  The also found dirty floors , food without expirations dates and adverse events after surgery.  The hospital still gets the lowest rating of one star.  

In a rush to diversity the new president of Brigham and Women's Hospital has ordered all the portraits in the main amphitheater be removed and hung throughout the hospital.  These are the portraits of the former chiefs of all the departments and are basically all white males.  This is a good idea but this means that the next generation of female and non-white physicians who will lead their departments will also not have their portraits hung in the main amphitheater.

The scum of a hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, St. Dominic's is not only an employer but an insurer of their employees.  One of the employees has a lymphoma and is getting IV injections every 28 days at the hospital per the insurer side requirement.  The hospital ran out of the med but did not attempt to get it from any of the surrounding hospitals or oncologists who had the med.  Instead they wanted the employee to wait for an unknown amount of time to get the med at the hospital.  He did not wait and got the med at his oncologist's office but the hospital refused to pay.  After he contacted the local newspaper they hospital got religion and decided to pay the bill.  


Dr. George Tyndall, an OBGYN at the USC student health, has been accused by a newspaper and former patients of taking advantage of his position.  The doctor resigned last year and has been reported to the medical board.  To date the allegations are that he made comments that some felt were offensive, he may have done improper touching during pelvic exams and he had pictures of female genitalia twenty years ago.  

The 90 physicians leaving Atrium Health will call their new group Tryon Medical Partners.  The break will be on August 31.  


 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.