Week in review: 11 biggest healthcare stories this week

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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. John Oliver forgives $15M in medical debt

On his program Sunday, John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, demonstrated how easy it is to get into the debt buying business and gain access to the personal information of thousands of people. 

2. Senate advances $162B health spending bill
A Senate subcommittee approved a $162 billion health spending bill Tuesday that will deliver funding increases to opioid abuse treatment, precision medicine and Medicare fraud programs, among others.

3. Senate panel approves $261M funding bill to fight opioid epidemic
A Senate panel on Tuesday approved a health funding bill that would increase spending to address opioid abuse by 93 percent, according to STAT.

4. Fewer than a quarter of US hospitals on track to hit value-based payment goal, survey finds
A new survey of healthcare executives from Health Catalyst revealed that fewer than a quarter of U.S. hospitals are on track to hit CMS' goal of transitioning half of payments to value-based care models by 2018. The survey revealed that only 3 percent of health systems today meet the target set by CMS.

5. Kaufman Hall: Hospital M&A activity up 13% in Q1
Hospital merger and acquisition activity across the U.S. continued to rise in the first quarter of 2016, according to the latest analysis by Kaufman, Hall & Associates. There were 26 hospital and health system transactions in the first quarter of 2016, a 13 percent increase compared to the 23 transactions announced in the first quarter of 2015.

6. Pharma companies to pay $67M for misleading physicians about cancer drug
Two pharmaceutical companies — Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Genentech and South San Francisco, Calif.-based OSI Pharmaceuticals — agreed to pay $67 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations, according to the Department of Justice.

7. Feds: Carolinas HealthCare forced steering restrictions in top payer contracts
The Department of Justice and North Carolina Attorney General filed an antitrust lawsuit against Carolinas HealthCare, alleging the Charlotte, N.C.-based system drove up costs in the region by imposing steering restrictions in contracts with commercial health insurers.

8. NY physician gets prison time for taking bribes in $100M fraud scheme
A physician who admitted to taking bribes as part of a long-running test referral scheme operated by Parsippany, N.J.-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services was sentenced to 37 months in prison, according to the Department of Justice.

9. Employee found dead in Bronx hospital
An employee at NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx Hospital was found dead in the hospital Tuesday. The 48-year-old man was found deceased at about 10:00 a.m. Police sources told New York Daily News that the employee may have died of a heart attack, and no foul play is suspected.

10. Former Pacific Hospital CEO and son guilty in $600M fraud scheme
Michael R. Drobot, former CEO of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., and his son are two of nine defendants that admitted to participating in a massive fraud scheme that involved physicians receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in kickbacks, according to the Department of Justice.

11. Man charged with selling heroin from hospital room
A man is being held on $11,000 cash bail for allegedly selling heroin from his room in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, Pa., according WPXI.

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