Week in review: 8 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. Anthem strikes deal to buy Cigna for $54.2B
Anthem announced today it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire rival health insurer Cigna in a cash and stock transaction valued at $54.2 billion. Under the deal, Cigna stockholders will receive $103.40 cash and 0.5152 Anthem common shares for each Cigna Share. Once the deal is closed — expected at the second half of 2016 — Anthem will have more than $115 billion in pro forma annual revenues and will cover approximately 53 million medical members.

2. US News names Best Hospitals 
U.S. News & World Report released its 2015-16 Best Hospital rankings, the 26th edition of its annual ranking. Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reclaimed the No. 1 ranking on the Honor Roll for 2015-16, Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic came in second and there is a tie for No. 3 between Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. To see a complete list of the hospitals that qualified for the Honor Roll, click here.

3. Medicare's hospital trust fund projected to run dry by 2030
The Medicare program's trustees project the trust fund for hospital care will run out of money in 2030, according to their 2015 annual report. The trustees made the same estimate in last year's annual report, and as in other past reports, the trustees determined the hospital trust fund is not adequately funded over the next decade. They urged lawmakers to act on this issue quickly. Also in the report, the trustees of Social Security estimated the Social Security disability trust fund would be depleted by the last quarter of 2016.

4. GAO finds invalid addresses, disciplinary problems among providers signed up to bill Medicare
The Government Accountability Office says significant screening problems persist among the 1.8 million providers enrolled to bill Medicare, including 23,400 potentially invalid addresses and licensing issues. It is not yet clear how much money Medicare paid to providers who listed invalid addresses, but as a whole, CMS estimates it made $44.2 billion in improper overpayments to medical providers in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2014.

5. Medicare pilot to include hospice
Federal officials announced July 20 more than 140 hospices are lined up to participate in a pilot project that will allow 150,000 Medicare beneficiaries to simultaneously receive hospice services and curative treatments. Patients with advanced cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, HIV and AIDS will have access to hospice care as part of the program, according to the report.

6. UCLA to test new scope cleaning machine in the wake of superbug outbreak
UCLA Ronal Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles is planning to install a new scope cleaning machine from Langford IC Systems on a trial basis, according to the Los Angeles Times. The installation of the new scope cleaning system follows an outbreak of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae related to duodenoscopes used to perform ERCPs at the medical center. The system cleans medical devices with a two-way water flow without the use of connectors, according to the report.

7. UMass Memorial to switch to Epic EHR
Eric Dickson, MD, president and CEO of Worcester, Mass.-based UMass Memorial Healthcare, announced plans to switch the health system to Epic's EHR platform, according to the Boston Business Journal. UMass Memorial Health Care currently uses Soarian, the flagship EHR of Siemens, which Cerner officially acquired in February.

8. 1st government-approved drone carries meds to Virginia clinic
Last week, the Remote Area Clinic, a pop-up health clinic in rural Wise County, Va., received medicine deliveries from the first government-approved drone delivery in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. The pop-up clinic is an annual event that is open for one weekend and serves an average of 3,000 patients. The pharmacy supplying medications for the clinic is approximately 35 miles and a 90-minute drive away, limiting providers in what medications they can prescribe since the clinic has to be stocked before it opens. With the drones, some patients were able to receive medications the same day instead of having to wait several days.

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2019. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 

Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months