What’s New in Health Care Reform: Aug. 9

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.

U.S. News Announces 2017-18 Best Hospitals

U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in hospital rankings, released the 2017-18 Best Hospitals rankings. In their 28th year, the rankings and ratings compare more than 4,500 medical centers nationwide in 25 specialties, procedures and conditions. For the second consecutive year, the Mayo Clinic claimed the No. 1 spot on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll. The Cleveland Clinic ranked No. 2, followed by Johns Hopkins Hospital at No. 3, up from No. 4 last year. The Honor Roll is a distinction awarded to 20 hospitals that deliver exceptional treatment across multiple areas of care. Via U.S. News.

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Anthem to Pare Back Obamacare Offerings in Nevada and Georgia

U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc said it will no longer offer Obamacare plans in Nevada's state exchange and will stop offering the plans in nearly half of Georgia's counties next year. The moves come after Republican senators last month failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law, creating uncertainty over how the program providing health benefits to 20 million Americans will be funded and managed in 2018. Via Reuters.

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Why One Insurer’s Collapse Could Whack Insurers, Policyholders Across the Country

Among all the reasons for rising health insurance premiums, this one might be the most obscure: A long-term care insurer in Pennsylvania just went belly-up. Health insurers across the country are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses stemming from the recent insolvency of Penn Treaty American Corp., of Allentown, Pa., and its two subsidiaries. Via Kaiser Health News.

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Health Care Gains 39,400 Jobs in July

Health care hiring rose at a sizzling 39,400 jobs in July, marking the second straight month that job growth surpassed the white-hot average monthly gain of 32,000 last year. The July hiring binge by hospitals and clinics happened even as the Senate debated most of the month on different plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and dramatically scale back Medicaid funding. Via Modern Healthcare.

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Senate Passes ‘Right-to-Try’ Bill, Reauthorizes FDA User Fees

The Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill that would make it easier for terminally ill patients to access drugs that have not been approved by the federal government. The “right-to-try” legislation would prohibit the government from denying such patients access to experimental drugs that are still being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and have completed a preliminary trial. The FDA would be barred from overruling the 37 states that have “right-to-try” laws on the books. Via Morning Consult.

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Take the Generic Drug, Patients Are Told – Unless Insurers Say No

Faced with competition, some pharmaceutical companies are cutting deals with insurance companies to favor their brand-name products over cheaper generics. Insurers pay less, but sometimes consumers pay more. Via ProPublica.

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Your ZIP Code Might Be as Important to Health as Your Genetic Code

When a receptionist hands out a form to fill out at a doctor's office, the questions are usually about medical issues: What's the visit for? Are you allergic to anything? Up to date on vaccines? But some health organizations are now asking much more general questions: Do you have trouble paying your bills? Do you feel safe at home? Do you have enough to eat? Research shows these factors can be as important to health as exercise habits or whether you get enough sleep. Via NPR.

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Under Trump, Hospitals Face Same Penalties Embraced By Obama

Amid all the turbulence over the future of the Affordable Care Act, one facet continues unchanged: President Donald Trump’s administration is penalizing more than half the nation’s hospitals for having too many patients return within a month. Via Kaiser Health News.

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Trump Promotes Technology to Improve Veterans' Health Care

President Donald Trump announced new efforts to use technology to improve veterans' health care, saying the programs will greatly expand access, especially for mental health care and suicide prevention. Veterans living in rural areas will also benefit, he said. Initiatives include using video technology and diagnostic tools to conduct medical exams. Veterans also will be able to use mobile devices to make and manage appointments with Veterans Administration doctors.. Via MPR.

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Insurers Think They’ve Found the Perfect Patients for Profits

The turmoil around the Affordable Care Act has created heartburn for health insurers. The industry is betting that a different government program will soothe its ills. Big insurers have retreated from Obamacare’s individual market, where fighting over the future of the health law has contributed to financial losses. They’re focusing instead on Medicare Advantage, a politically popular program that’s being embraced by a growing population of older Americans. Via Bloomberg.

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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.