What’s New in Health Care Reform: July 12

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Congress's Other Health Care Problem Awaits Action on ACA

Congress must renew a fee program that funds government review of new drugs and medical devices, but a legislative logjam over the Senate’s health care overhaul stands in its way. Lawmakers need to sign off on the drug and device fees by the end of September or the program will lapse. If Congress can’t pass legislation, the Food and Drug Administration could be forced to send layoff notices by the end of this month to more than 5,000 employees involved in product reviews, who would lose their jobs within 60 days. Via Bloomberg.

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Survey Says: Medicaid Recipients Really Like Their Coverage and Care

A new study released by Harvard's Chan School of Public Health shows that people enrolled in Medicaid are overwhelmingly satisfied with their coverage and care. The researchers looked at survey data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from more than 270,000 people who were enrolled in Medicaid in 2013. They gave the program an average rating of 7.9 out of 10, where 10 was considered "the best health care possible." Nearly half of the respondents rated Medicaid a 9 or 10. Via NPR.

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Health Care’s Widespread Overbilling Problem

The health care system's complex payment system gives doctors and hospitals lots of incentives to bill for more expensive services than they actually provide, a practice known as upcoding. Numerous settlements between health care companies and the Department of Justice indicate it's a widespread problem. Via Axios.

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Drop in Cancer Deaths in Rural America Slower Than Urban Areas

Cancer deaths in America's rural areas are not falling as much as they are in urban areas even though the total deaths from the disease are dropping across the country, a U.S. health agency report showed, emphasizing the gap in access to health care. Via Reuters.

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Computer-Simulated Tests Eyed at FDA to Cut Drug Approval Costs

Computer simulations may get a role alongside human testing as part of an effort to bring new medications and medical devices to market more quickly and cheaply. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlined a proposal to help integrate computer modeling and virtual testing as part of the regulatory approval process for manufacturers—a step the agency said could save money while helping find cures for puzzling conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Via Bloomberg.

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Suspected Cholera Cases Pass 300,000 in Yemen, Red Cross Says

The cholera outbreak in Yemen marked a grim milestone, as the International Committee of the Red Cross announced there are now more than 300,000 suspected cases of the disease in the country. The epidemic has claimed more than 1,600 lives in roughly 10 weeks and "continues to spiral out of control," according to the agency. Via NPR.

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Delaying August Recess, Senate Republicans to Release Updated Health Care Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to release an updated Republican health care bill and is delaying the body's annual August recess by two weeks in an effort to generate momentum for the beleaguered legislation. Via NPR.

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Double-Booked: When Surgeons Operate on Two Patients at Once

The controversial practice has been standard in many teaching hospitals for decades, its safety and ethics largely unquestioned and its existence unknown to those most affected: people undergoing surgery. But over the past two years, the issue of overlapping surgery—in which a doctor operates on two patients in different rooms during the same time period—has ignited an impassioned debate in the medical community, attracted scrutiny by the powerful Senate Finance Committee that oversees Medicare and Medicaid, and prompted some hospitals, including the University of Virginia’s, to circumscribe the practice. Via Kaiser Health News.

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Medical Debt? Big Changes Are Coming to the Way Credit Agencies Report It

Starting Sept. 15, the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—will set a 180-day waiting period before including medical debt on a consumer’s credit report. The six-month period is intended to ensure there’s enough time to resolve disputes with insurers and delays in payment. Via STAT.

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F.D.A. Deal Would Relax Rules on Reporting Medical Device Problems

Makers of cardiac defibrillators, insulin pumps, breast implants, and other medical devices might be able to delay reporting dangerous malfunctions to the Food and Drug Administration under an agreement heading for a vote in Congress. Device makers will still have to quickly report any injuries or deaths related to their products. They would have more time, though, to file reports on devices that may not be working properly, and have the potential for injury. The deal is part of a pact between the F.D.A. and the $148 billion device industry. Renegotiated every five years, the agreement includes the fees that device makers must pay for the agency to review their products. It is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives. Via NY Times.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. He leads strategies for corporate communications, public relations, and new media innovations. Andy has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2003. Outside of work, Andy can be found running, hiking, snapping photos, and most importantly, spending time with his family.