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Apr 16, 2018
The CMS has appealed a Missouri federal court's decision to vacate a final rule that would have allowed the agency to claw back money from Missouri hospitals' disproportionate-share hospital allotments.

The CMS alerted the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of its intention to challenge the District Court decision last week. Jane Drummond, general counsel for the Missouri Hospital Association, expects oral arguments to take place in late summer or early fall.

In February, U.S....

Apr 16, 2018

For the first time, a treatment that boosts the immune system greatly improved survival in people newly diagnosed with the most common form of lung cancer. It's the biggest win so far for immunotherapy, which has had much of its success until now in less common cancers.

In the study, Merck's Keytruda, given with standard chemotherapy, cut in half the risk of dying or having the cancer worsen, compared to chemo alone after nearly one year. The results are expected to quickly set a new...

Apr 13, 2018

Nearly a half century ago, Kurt Vonnegut published his classic antiwar novel Slaughterhouse-Five. Few know that its full title was Slaughterhouse-Five, or the Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death.

The first part came from Vonnegut's World War II experience. While a prisoner of war, he survived the firebombing of Dresden by taking shelter in a meat locker.

His more allegorical subtitle referred to the early 13th century Children's Crusade, when thousands of German and...

Apr 13, 2018

HHS Secretary Alex Azar in early March challenged the industry to move quickly to become more transparent about pricing. And if it doesn't happen, he said, the government has "plenty of levers to pull to make the change." Joseph Fifer, CEO of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, agrees that healthcare has been slow to adopt meaningful transparency policies, but he believes that is changing. Fifer, who took over the HFMA in 2012 after 11 years as vice president of hospital...

Apr 13, 2018
Chinese investors showered the U.S. senior housing market with money in 2016 and early 2017, buying properties operated by companies like Brookdale Senior Living and Genesis Healthcare. Those investments dried up in mid-2017, and some experts say they're unlikely to return to previous levels any time soon.

The Chinese government has in recent months been limiting real estate investments in other countries following its high-profile takeover of the Chinese insurance company that acquired the...

Apr 13, 2018
First the scientists came for our kitchen sponges. Full of frightening germs, they said. Bathroom hand driers? Havens for ugly bacteria.

And now? The innocuous rubber duckies that delight tots at bath time could harbor a nasty surprise.

Swiss and American researchers counted the microbes swimming inside the toys and say the murky liquid released when ducks were squeezed contained "potentially pathogenic bacteria" in 4 out of the 5 toys studied.

Bacteria found included...

Apr 13, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan's surprise—but not surprising—announcement that he will retire from Congress at the end of this term leaves the unified Republican government with little to tout in terms of healthcare legislative victories.

During his two decades in Congress, Ryan fought to bring conservative ideas to the healthcare debate. Many were detailed in his 2016 "A Better Way" blueprint, which laid the groundwork for the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act and many of the...

Apr 13, 2018
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will debate legislation April 24 as Congress pedals toward the Memorial Day deadline to complete its opioids package.

HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he sees a proposal to support the National Institutes of Health work on non-addictive painkillers as the "holy grail" for solving the epidemic.

"Developing new, non-addictive ways to treat is crucial to helping prevent people from becoming addicted to opioids...

Apr 13, 2018

As the Trump administration and some in Congress whittle away at the Affordable Care Act, blue states are filling in gaps in an attempt to bolster their markets. Others are picking up chainsaws.

Federal moves to pull a form of financial assistance for low-income Americans and slash ACA outreach and advertising last year were followed by the GOP tax law's elimination of the individual mandate penalty, and a proposal to expand health coverage that disregards ACA rules and protections....

Apr 13, 2018
The Drug Enforcement Administration has raised production quotas for drug manufacturers Fresenius Kabi and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals to mitigate the shortage of opioid injectables, but relief is likely months away.

Federal regulators and pharmaceutical manufacturers are trying to fill a void left by Pfizer, which produces about 60% of the small-dose presentations of injectable morphine, fentanyl and other opioids. Pfizer has been mired in manufacturing hang-ups since July.

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