Week in review: 11 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. 10 things to know about the new healthcare spending projections
CMS' Office of the Actuary Tuesday announced healthcare spending grew 5.5 percent in 2014, totaling $3.1 trillion. That is the first time growth exceeded 5 percent since 2007. CMS actuaries said the rise in healthcare spending will increase at a more rapid pace than the economy for the next 10 years, and the share of the economy that goes toward healthcare will increase from 17.4 percent in 2013 to 19.6 percent in 2024. Three forces are driving the increase in spending growth, according to Medicare forecasters: expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the aging American population and a recovering economy. A rise in prescription drug spending growth has also contributed to swelling healthcare spending.

2. Cerner wins DOD contract to modernize military health records
The Department of Defense announced July 29 the bid team comprise of Cerner, Leidos and Accenture won the agency's contract to overhaul the military's health record, the biggest federal IT contract since HealthCare.gov. The team is now responsible for upgrading and managing the Pentagon's health records for 9.5 million beneficiaries at approximately 1,000 sites in the U.S. and abroad. The initial contract is for 10 years and valued at approximately $4.3 billion, though it has the potential to last for 18 years and be worth approximately $9 million.

3. Former Chicago hospital CEO sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison
Edward Novak, the former owner and CEO of now-shuttered Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for his involvement in a massive kickback scheme, according to a Chicago Tribune report. In March, a federal jury deliberated for three days before convicting Mr. Novak as well as Roy Payawal, the hospital's former CFO, and Clarence Naglevoort, Sacred Heart's former COO, of conspiring to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks to physicians for referrals to the hospital. At trial, prosecutors argued Sacred Heart reaped nearly $35 million over the 12-year kickback scheme, according to the report. In addition to his prison term, Mr. Novak was also fined $770,000 and ordered to pay an additional $10.4 million in forfeiture. Mr. Payawal was given a sentence of just one year.

4. Nebraska hospital loses Medicare funding, plans to stay open
Winnebago (Neb.) Indian Health Service Hospital lost its Medicare funding July 23, but the hospital plans to stay open for now, according to a Sioux City Journal report. The funding cutoff was due to a CMS finding that the facility put its patients in "immediate jeopardy," which led to the death of one person earlier this year. CMS also found the hospital provided inadequate treatment to at least nine other patients.

5. Arizona hospital to shut down after losing Medicare funding
The federal government terminated its Medicare contract with Douglas, Ariz.-based Cochise Regional Hospital July 10. The hospital is now set to become the 55th rural hospital to close its doors since 2010, according to a Tucson Sentinel report. Concerns over patient care led to Medicare rescinding funding to the hospital; CRH failed to comply with federal regulations during four survey conducted between Feb. 19, 2014 and March 26, 2015. Seventy employees will lose their jobs as a result of the closure.

6. Capella to be sold for $900M
Capella Holdings, the parent company of Franklin, Tenn.-based Capella Healthcare, signed a definitive agreement for Birmingham, Ala.-based Medical Properties Trust to acquire Capella for $900 million in cash. Under the deal, MPT will make a $600 million investment in Capella's real estate and an investment of approximately $300 million in Capella's operating entities. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2015.

7. Consumer Reports rates hospitals on infections
Consumer Reports this week expanded its hospital ratings to include data on Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, and it found some hospitals significantly outperform their peers when it comes to preventing these —and other — deadly healthcare-associated infections. Nine hospitals received higher ratings in preventing MRSA and C. diff as well as other infections included in the magazine's ratings. The No. 1 hospital in infection prevention is Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo. To view the nine highest and 12 lowest performing hospitals, click here.

8. BJC HealthCare loses computer service for 20 hours
Earlier this week, BJC HealthCare, based in St. Louis, experienced a computer outage that affected its operations systemwide, according to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report. The outage began on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and lasted until Wednesday at 11 a.m. As a result of the outage, all 13 of BJC's hospitals were unable to access email, EHRs and registration and scheduling systems.

9. HHS pledges $100M to combat national drug addiction epidemic
HHS is pledging $100 million to fight the national drug epidemic, according to The Hill. The money will go to community health centers in 11 states that are currently leading the way in the fight against opioid addictions. One-third of the funding will be applied to addiction-fighting medications. According to the report, deaths from substances such as heroin and prescription painkillers have reached record levels. Heroin overdose deaths doubled between 2011 and 2013 and quadrupled from 2002 to 2013.

10. 9 things for hospitals to know about the NOTICE Act
On the tail of CMS' proposed changes to the two-midnight rule in July, a new piece of legislation intended to give patients more warning about observation care is on its way to President Barack Obama. The NOTICE Act, or Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act, would require hospitals nationwide to inform Medicare patients when they are receiving care under observation status.

11. Planned Parenthood website hacked by antiabortion group
A hacker organization that opposes Planned Parenthood claims to have posted online a database containing the names and emails of employees of the women's health clinic, according to The Daily Dot. The attack was politically motivated, one of the hackers told The Daily Dot, using the pseudonym "E." It does not appear that personal data of patients or employees of Planned Parenthood's affiliate organizations were exposed, according to the report.  

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