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Several changes to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have been included in a proposed rule by CMS in an effort to fight opioid abuse among seniors while taking another step towards reducing regulations.

Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 11, nearly 1.5 million people signed up for health insurance coverage on the Healthcare.gov exchange, an increase of almost 500,000 from the same period last year.

Republican leaders in the Senate announced Nov. 14 they will include a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in their tax reform proposal. After failing numerous times to repeal and replace the ACA, GOP leaders are hoping to include the healthcare reform in the tax bill.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a public health advisory about risks associated with kratom, an herbal supplement used to treat pain and reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.

In the first update to U.S. guidelines on blood pressure in 14 years, a writing committee changed the definition of high blood pressure from 140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher to 130/80 or higher.

 

Recent Headlines

Federal appeals court: Hospitals can be both ‘urban’ and ‘rural’

Earlier this month, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the HHS “reclassification rule” was invalid and hospitals could be considered “rural” in some circumstances and “urban” in others. 

What’s on TV? Ads for expensive drugs to fight rare conditions

Americans who watch at least a few hours of TV each week are used to getting urged to ask their doctors about all sorts of medications that, chances are, they really don’t need.  

CMS publishes final rule on overpayments for Medicare Parts A and B

CMS has published a final rule that requires healthcare providers and suppliers receiving funds from Medicare Part A and Part B to report and return overpayments within 60 days of first identifying them. 

Burwell has faith remaining states will embrace Medicaid expansion

HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell spoke to reporters last week about the Affordable Care Act’s 2016 open enrollment figures and the future of healthcare in the U.S. 

Longer hours show no significant impact on resident satisfaction or patient care

Surgical residents who are allowed to work longer hours than currently allowed so that they can stay with or stabilize patients do not show any signs of putting their patients at risk, according to a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine

Examination of private insurance claims data offers new insights

A recent report examining employer-sponsored private insurance claims data found that basing healthcare decisions on Medicare data might not be the best practice. The researchers found that the correlation between total spending per Medicare beneficiary and total spending per privately insured beneficiary was 0.14 in 2011, while the correlation for inpatient spending was 0.267.

CMS looks to adapt ACO benchmarks to regional realities

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing changes in the benchmarks it uses to evaluate ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

California hospital pays more than $3.2 million to settle allegations

A hospital in Oceanside, Calif., agreed to pay more than $3.2 million to settle claims it violated laws and Medicare’s prohibition on having an illegal financial relationship with referring physicians.

Government Accountability Office finds flaws in FDA's methods

According to a new 42-page report published by investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there are significant flaws in the way the FDA tracks drugs after they come to market. 

Supreme Court won't hear Medtronic case

Caplinger v. Medtronic Inc., the lawsuit in which a patient accused Medtronic of allowing doctors to use its INFUSE Bone Graft product in ways not approved by the FDA, made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Court announced it has declined to hear the case. 

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