Week in review: 10 biggest healthcare stories this week

Stay in the know with Becker's Hospital Review's weekly roundup of the nation's biggest healthcare news. Here's what you need to know this week.

1. GOP unveils ACA replacement plan
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Republicans Wednesday unveiled a 37-page healthcare proposal that consolidates the party's ideas to replace the Affordable Care Act. The plan centers around five core principles, including: repeal the ACA; provide Americans with more choice, lower costs and greater flexibility in healthcare; protect the most "vulnerable" patients, such as those with pre-existing conditions and complex medical conditions; promote medical innovation; preserve Medicare.

2. 301 individuals charged in $900M Medicare fraud crackdown
The Medicare Fraud Strike Force set a new record this year for the largest takedown against medical professionals attempting to defraud Medicare, according to the Department of Justice. This year, the task force levied criminal and civil charges against 301 individuals, including 61 physicians, nurses and other licensed medical professionals for allegedly participating in schemes involving $900 million in false billings. In comparison, last year's record setting numbers for defendants charged and alleged loss totaled 243 individuals and $712 million in false billings.

3. Joint Commission denies Virginia Mason full accreditation after discovering safety issues
The Joint Commission denied the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle full accreditation after a surprise review in May revealed noncompliance with 29 standards, according to The Seattle Times. The accreditation announcement follows news of a possible hepatitis B exposure at the hospital affecting nearly 650 patients.

4. Medicare to be insolvent 2 years earlier than previously expected
Medicare's hospital-insurance trust fund will be depleted by 2028, two years sooner than estimated in 2015, according to the annual report card by the program's trustees. The trustees updated the estimate as a result of projected higher use of inpatient hospital services and lower taxable payroll.

5. Ex-health clinic CEO guilty of 98 counts in $14M fraud suit
A federal jury has convicted Jonathan Dunning, the former CEO of Birmingham (Ala.) Health Care and Central Alabama Comprehensive Health in Tuskegee, of diverting $14 million in federal funding to private companies he formed to contract with the clinics. After leaving his post as CEO in 2008, Mr. Dunning continued to exercise control over the two nonprofit health clinics and diverted $14 million in government funds meant for the clinics to his own for-profit companies.

6. Advocate-NorthShore request expedited appeal in merger case
Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care and Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem have asked a federal appeals court to speed up the process of hearing arguments from federal antitrust regulators who are determined to stop the two Chicagoland systems from merging.

7. 1,300 Kaiser nurses set to begin 4-day strike
About 1,300 nurses at Kaiser Permanente's Los AngelesMedicalCenter, who are members of the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United, began a four-day strike Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

8. More than 4,000 nurses begin strike at Allina hospitals
More than 4,000 nurses at Minneapolis-based Allina Health went on strike Sunday, signaling the beginning of a planned seven-day walkout, according to a Star Tribune report. A June 22 Star Tribune report found the striking nurses are questioning the organization's spending, including the Minneapolis-based system's $108 million investment in medical data company Health Catalyst.

9. UC Health nurse sues health system for covering up scope-related outbreak
A University of Cincinnati Health nurse filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the system, claiming UC Health failed to prevent the spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria and covered up its role in the outbreak, FOX 19 NOW reports.

10. Fort Worth hospital to close, 152 to lose jobs
Regency Hospital in Forth Worth, Texas will close Aug. 11, leaving the specialty acute care facility's 152 employees without jobs, according to The Dallas Morning News.

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