Week in review: 12 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. Senate passes budget, moves one step closer to ACA repeal
The Senate voted 51-48 early Thursday morning to pass a budget resolution, paving the way for Republicans to dismantle the ACA, Politico reported. 

2. Trump makes VA pick, says agency will align with Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic
At his first formal news conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump announced he will promote David Shulkin, MD, current under secretary of health at the Veterans Affairs Department, to lead the VA, and plans to align the agency with "top-of-the-line" health systems.

3. CMS changed overall star rating formula in December update — here's what's new
CMS updated its Hospital Compare database in December, which included an update to its Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating program. This was the second time the agency updated the overall quality star ratings after initially launching the program in July 2016 and updating rankings in October. Click here to see CMS' new overall 5-star hospitals.

4. 2016 averaged 1 healthcare data breach per day
There was an average of more than one health data breach per day in 2016, with a total of 450 breach incidents in the year, according to the Protenus Breach Barometer, which utilizes information from DataBreaches.net.

5. Dr. Tom Price to divest interest in 43 companies if confirmed as head of HHS
Rep. Tom Price, MD, R-Ga., vowed to divest his interests in 43 companies, many of which are healthcare companies, if he is confirmed to the post as secretary of HHS. In a letter to HHS' ethics office dated Jan. 11, Dr. Price lists the companies he has investments in, which include Aetna, athenahealth, CVS, Eli Lilly, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, McKesson and Pfizer. The sale of his stocks in those companies and the others listed will be completed within 90 days of his confirmation, he wrote.

6. Trump taps vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy to chair vaccine safety panel
President-elect Donald Trump met Tuesday with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and outspoken critic of vaccines for children, at Trump Tower in New York City. After the meeting, Mr. Kennedy announced he accepted Mr. Trump's offer to chair a panel on vaccine safety and scientific integrity.

7. Cigna ditches coverage of Mylan's EpiPen for generic version
Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna dropped coverage for Mylan's EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. auto-injectors in favor of its generic alternative, according to the payer's prescription drug list changes, which were effective Jan. 7.

8. Patient shoots himself inside NJ hospital
A 72-year-old patient shot himself inside Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, N.J., on the morning of Jan. 11.

9. How Cleveland Clinic responded when one of its physician leaders publicly denounced vaccines
Cleveland Clinic had to handle an unexpected public relations issue this week — an anti-vaccine column penned by the medical director and COO of the Clinic's Wellness Institute, Daniel Neides, MD.

10. Hospital uncompensated care costs fall to lowest level in 26 years
From 1990 through 2015, U.S. hospitals' uncompensated care costs totaled $704.7 billion, according to a recent American Hospital Association report.

11. Car crashes into a pole, bringing down Epic EHR at Jefferson Healthcare
A car crashed into a utility pole in Poulsbo, Wash., on Dec. 31, affecting healthcare and telephone services in the area, according to PTLeader.com.

12. This physician almost died in her own hospital — what she learned from the experience
Rana Awdish, MD, a critical care physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, shares how her own near-death experience inspired her — and the hospital — to provide better patient care in an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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