Rich Daly reports that Congress’ Medicare advisory body recommended that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius limit hospital cuts she was required to make under a year-end fiscal cliff law to leave those facilities with a 1 percent payment increase next fiscal year.
N.C. Sees Reduction in Flu Cases , 1-10-13, News & Observer
Renee Elder reports North Carolina’s early descent into flu season may have an upside. Fewer patients sought treatment at emergency rooms and clinics for flu symptoms last week, fueling speculation that the worst could be over.
Wal-Mart Boosts Arkansas Medical Home Effort, 1-11-13, Modern Healthcare
Andis Robeznieks reports the state of Arkansas’s health system transformation was given a significant financial boost from the state’s largest company, Wal-Mart Stores, which committed to providing $670,000 to help underwrite the work of the Arkansas Health Care Payment Improvement Initiative.
More Cliffs Ahead, 1-12-13, Modern Healthcare
Rich Daly and Jessica Zigmond report many of the prominent healthcare developments in the months ahead are expected to center around coming federal and state regulations that will provide final details for the major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that finally take effect next year.
Who Knew? Patients’ Share of Health Spending is Shrinking, 1-13-13, Kaiser Health News
Jay Hancock reports despite rapid growth in high-deductible health plans and rising employee contributions for insurance premiums, consumers’ share of national health spending continued to fall in 2011, slipping to its lowest level in decades.
States will be Given Extra Time to Set Up Health Insurance Exchanges, 1-14-13, New York Times
Robert Pear reports the White House says it will give states more time to comply with the new health care law after finding that many states lag in setting up markets where millions of Americans are expected to buy subsidized private health insurance.
Cornerstone Partners with UnitedHealthcare, Optum on Accountable Care, 1-15-13, The Business Journal
Owen Covington reports Cornerstone Health Care is partnering with UnitedHealthcare and a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary, Optum, to form an accountable care organization that will tie health care delivery more closely to quality metrics in an effort to improve outcomes.
North Carolina Lags Behind in Adopting Electronic Health Records, 1-15-13, Triangle Business Journal
Jason deBruyn reports family physicians have adopted electronic health records at a clip that far surpasses all other doctors, but North Carolina lags behind the national average.
Are e-visits as good as office appointments?, 1-15-13, Reuters
Genevra Pittman reports a new study suggests that “e-visits” for sinus infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs) may be cheaper than in-person office visits and similarly effective.
Rally Urges Republican Officials to Nullify Obamacare, 1-16-13, Carolina Journal
Sara Burrows reports as state lawmakers made their way back to work January 9, they faced nearly 200 protesters on the lawn in front of the General Assembly building. The message from the demonstrators to the incoming legislators – some seasoned, some newly elected: “Honor Your Oaths: Nullify Now!”
Mental Health Parity Coming, President Says, 1-16-13, MedPage
David Pittman reports President Obama promised Wednesday that his administration would issue final rules implementing a 2008 law that requires insurers to cover mental health services on a par with physical care, but the President gave no time frame for doing so.
Slowly Dying Patients, an Audit and a Hospice’s Undoing, 1-16-13, Kaiser Health News
Randy Dotinga reports in the wake of an ongoing federal audit and an internal investigation, San Diego Hospice’s patient load has dropped by hundreds as it targets its services more tightly to only those within the six-month window.
Smartphone Apps for Melanoma Detection Not So Smart, 1-17-13, Journal Watch
Cara Adler reports Smartphone apps for helping nonclinicians determine whether their skin lesions might be benign or malignant are not accurate, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology.
Flu Crisis Prompts Broadest Vaccine Redesign since 1981, 1-18-13, Bloomberg
Michelle Fay Cortez reports with the worst flu outbreak since 2009 gripping the U.S., vaccine makers are determined to do better next season. They’re developing powerful vaccines that hold the promise of cutting incidences of flu by the thousands. The new immunizations represent the broadest flu treatment update in three decades.
NC Waited Before Disclosing Meningitis Outbreak, 1-21-13, Star News
Mitch Weiss reports days after investigators linked a deadly cluster of rare fungal meningitis cases in Tennessee to tainted back pain medication, North Carolina officials received an urgent email from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.