It’s definitely going to be a challenge if you think about it. If the LG V30 is to follow the design of the G6, it will need to come up with a way to mix that with its second screen feature. And it seems that LG could do it in a rather interesting way.Unlike on the V10 and the V20, the phone from this patent has its front camera right in the middle. It is flanked by a row of icons quite similar to the second screen of the V series. Nothing else can be found there, which is nearly flushed to the top edge of the phone. Not even the usual sensors or even a speaker grille.This naturally brings up the question of where LG will put these, which are critical to the operation of a smartphone. The patent doesn’t say, but LG could employ a trick that the iPhone 8 might be using, hiding the sensors underneath the display’s glass. As for the speaker, there is a hint that it could surround the front camera, given its location. Definitely an odd arrangement that could impact the front camera’s performance.The LG V30’s screen is shaping up to be its more interesting feature. According to source, the OEM could make a switch to using OLED panels in this model. This could definitely lessen the battery drain of its always on second screen while opening up the possibility for curved screen edges, something that LG has so far rallied against.VIA: GSMinfo The bezel-less wars are on. Even Apple might be joining the fray, though perhaps delayed. Xiaomi fired the opening salvo, and LG quickly followed suit. It was, however, perhaps shoved to a corner by the Samsung Galaxy S8. If, however, LG manages to use this recently unearthed patent, it could get back in the running. The patent shows a smartphone that seems like a mix of the G6 and the V30, combining a nearly all-screen front and a second screen.
There might finally be some hope for Nexus owners who have had their Nexus 5X or 6P instantly turn into paperweight through no fault of its own. While Google, LG, and Huawei take their time figuring this out and fighting off class action lawsuits, some more zealous users have taken matters into their own hands to fix their “bootloop of death”, or BLOD, problems. After the Nexus 6P got its fix, it is the Nexus 5X’s turn. Curiously, it uses the exact same fix as the Nexus 6P. Despite made by different manufacturers, both the Nexus 6P by Huawei and the Nexus 5X by LG experienced the fatal bootloops that practically made the smartphones unusable. In LG’s case, however, a few of its non-Nexus phones have also been hit by the same bug, complicating matters even more.Although a full explanation still isn’t available, an unofficial and working fix is. The trick was to apparently disable the “big” cores in the octa-core setup of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 running inside the Nexus 6P. Apparently, that same trick works for the Nexus 5X, despite the smartphone running on a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 only.Fortunately, that also means that the steps are similar as well, but so are the drawbacks. All that has changed are some of the files that you need to download. To recap, you will need these files to get started:• ADB and Fastboot tools• (Only for Windows users) USB drivers• Modified boot image (N2G47Z_4Cores.img)• (Optional) Modified TWRP image (TWRP3_1_1_5X.img)• (Optional) Modified kernel (EX4_10_5X.zip)The steps are as follows:1. Extract the ADB and Fastboot tools in a directory and place the boot image in the same directory2. Plug the Nexus 5X to the computer3. Open a Command Prompt/Terminal in that directory and run fastboot devices to check if the phone is detected. If not, reinstall the USB drivers (on Windows)4. Unlock the Nexus 5X bootloader. This will wipe the phone’s internal storage. Run the command fastboot flashing unlock5. Once unlocked, flash the boot image with fastboot flash boot N2G47Z_4Cores.img(Optional) Install TWRP with fastboot flash recovery TWRP3_1_1_5X.img6. Reboot with fastboot reboot and enjoy your Nexus 5X’s second life.Like with the Nexus 6P, the Nexus 5X will run noticeably slower since it will be running on only four slower Cortex-A53 cores. You can opt to overclock the Snapdragon 808 by flashing the modified kernel using TWRP. And like the Nexus 6P, this process wipes your internal storage, so you have to choose between trying to preserve your data, which is nearly impossible since you can’t boot into the phone in the first place, or getting to use the Nexus 5X again. For some, there isn’t really a choice.Google has responded to questions and complaints by pointing affected users to its repair and replacement options, but soon that won’t be available anymore as the Nexus 5X and 6P approach their end of life. It is also interesting that the same fix applies to two smartphones from different OEMs, using different processors. Even more mysterious when you consider that the bootloops extends to other LG devices as well. While we await more definitive answers to these questions, Nexus 6P and, now, 5X owners can at least enjoy use of their smartphones again.VIA: XDA
AT&T has announced that all 50 US states are participating in its public safety network called FirstNet. The project will take place over the next handful of years, ultimately culminating in a robust broadband network provided specifically for first responders. The carrier recently held an opt-in/out period during which states had to decide whether they wanted in…and, it turns out, they all do. The FirstNet network is the by-product of a goverment contract tasking the carrier with building a solution for first responders, that itself building upon a recommendation for such a network in our post-9/11 world. Under the contract, AT&T is getting 20 megahertz wireless airwaves and extensive funding to spend half a decade building the network.This first responder-centric network is the result of years of work. It was way back in 2011 that the FCC finally decided that LTE would be the suitable standard for this network, and now years later one of the nation’s biggest LTE providers has made i a reality.The First Responder Network Authority will make payments to AT&T based on success, ultimately shelling out $6.5 billion. AT&T will be covering the other $40 or so billion, though that will be spread out over the next 25 years and will include managing the network, not just building it.The FirstNet network is available to first responders starting today, and it’ll be improved over coming years. AT&T says it will build the foundation next year, adding Band 14 for more capacity and coverage, as well as identifying and hardening “certain critical sites” in states, including places where natural disasters are likely. FirstNet could also get a 5G upgrade in the future.SOURCE: AT&T
Lenovo IdeaPad 530SBringing in the top spec for the 2018 IdeaPads is this, the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S. It tips the scales at just over 3 pounds and is 0.6-inches thin, with an all-aluminum polished chassis in Onyx Black, Copper, Liquid Blue, and Mineral Grey. Both 14- and 15-inch displays will be offered. Either way, you get IPS LCD and Full HD as standard, with 300 nits of brightness. The 14-inch can have up to a WQHD 2560 x 1440 wide-angle display as an option. They’re driven by NVIDIA MX130 or MX150 discrete graphics, while the processors are all from Intel’s 8th Gen Core line-up. SSD storage is standard, too. Lenovo’s Precision Touchpad makes an appearance, along with a backlit keyboard and fingerprint reader as options. Harman speakers have been used, too. Ports include HDMI, USB in Type-A and Type-C flavors, and an SD card slot. Lenovo has borrowed the cooling strategy from its more expensive models, too, repositioning the fans from the base of the IdeaPad 530S to the inside edge of the hinge, where they’re more effective and less intrusive. It’ll hit stores this month, and be priced from $799.99 for the 14-inch and from $849.99 for the 15-inch. Like the rest of the line-up it’ll run Windows 10 Home as standard. Lenovo is also using its Rapid Charge system, promising up to two hours of use from 15 minutes on charge. It’s graduation season – not to mention Mother’s Day and Father’s Day nearly upon us – and Lenovo thinks the new 2018 IdeaPad range should be your first port of call for a laptop gift. Starting from $249.99, and spanning 14- to 17-inches in size, the IdeaPad 330, 330S, and 530S series include features like USB-C, HDMI ports, and discrete graphics options from NVIDIA, not to mention a rapid-charge battery system that can deliver up to 2hrs from just 15 minutes plugged in. Lenovo IdeaPad 330SLenovo’s step up from its entry-level laptop is the IdeaPad 330S. The “S” is for “Slim” and so it’s roughly a pound lighter than the regular 330, hitting the scales at 3.5 pounds and 0.7-inches thick. It gets a real polished aluminum top cover, too, and slimmer screen bezels for a more premium look. Two screen options will be offered, 14-inch and 15-inch. Lenovo will offer Full HD IPS screens as options, and up to 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processors with NVIDIA GeForce GTX1050 graphics. The keyboard is backlit, and the stereo speakers are slightly more powerful, at 2 watts. Color options will, again, depend on where you buy and what configuration, but will include Platinum Grey, Midnight Blue, Rose Pink, Blizzard White, and Iron Grey. Ports include HDMI, USB Type-A and Type-C, and an SD card reader, though there’s no optical drive. The IdeaPad 330S will go on sale in May, priced from $499.99 for the 14-inch and from $449.99 for the 15-inch. Lenovo IdeaPad 330Most affordable of the 2018 IdeaPads, the 330 kicks off from $249.99. It’ll be offered in three sizes, 14-inches, 15-inches, and 17-inches, when it goes on sale in May. Each has an anti-glare screen, and come in at HD, HD+, and Full HD respectively. Ports include HDMI, ethernet, an SD card slot, and USB in both Type-A and Type C flavors. Lenovo has used PC-ABS plastic for the chassis, though with some metallic effect detailing to make it look more expensive than it actually is. Different retailers, and different sizes, will come in different colors: Platinum Grey, Onyx Black, Mint Green, Midnight Blue, Blizzard White, and Chocolate, depending on which you buy and where you buy it from. As for the hardware, processors start from Intel’s Celeron Dual Core N400 paired with integrated graphics, and run all the way up to 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H and NVIDIA GeForce GTX1050 combos. You can have a touchscreen, fingerprint biometric security, and an integrated DVD drive, if you so desire. All have 1.5W stereo speakers. The IdeaPad 330 14-inch starts at $349.99, while the IdeaPad 330 15-inch starts at $249.99. Finally, the IdeaPad 330 17-inch starts at $499.99.
The new Xperia XZ2 design might not be as striking as other flagships this year, though it’s still a change nonetheless. Sony has employed a glass-metal-glass sandwich with the back curving very visibly. It is that curve that adds to thickness of the smartphone.Sony used Gorilla Glass 5 on both front and back sides of the Xperia XZ2, which is no match for keys, coins, and even razor blades. The fingerprint scanner on the back does scratch easily but continues to work regardless. Unsurprisingly, Sony is sticking to its LCD guns, which does have a recovery advantage over OLEDs in the practically useless burn test.It is in the bend test, however, where the Xperia XZ2’s mettle is truly tested. The new design and new materials used added to the smartphone’s structural integrity, making it more rigid and nearly impossible to flex, unlike the Xperias before it. Sony may have indeed come upon a successful formula, at least as far as durability goes.AdChoices广告Of course, durable phones don’t always translate to good sales. Despite Sony’s lackluster sales, however, it remains committed to smartphones but not for the sake of the devices themselves but for being portals to the company’s other technologies and ambitions. Sony made a huge gamble this year. At long last, it finally changed the design of its flagship phones, but it may not be what fans have been longing for. Especially after it visibly and tangibly increases the thickness of the devices. But that design change may also have some added benefits as YouTuber Zack Nelson from JerryRigEverything found out in his trifecta of durability test performed on the Sony Xperia XZ2.
For a time, iOS locked its doors to other web browsers like Firefox unless those used its WebKit web engine. While that is in the past, there are still other parts of Apple’s ecosystem that remain closed off to other players unless they’re to concede some ground to Apple. One of those is CarPlay, which can only use Apple Maps for its navigation. That’s changing in iOS 12 and now Google Maps has a beta that reveals just what it had to do to get in. Apple Maps has matured a lot since the brouhaha that happened during it’s launch. Still, some prefer to use Google’s version of the system, which they may feel has had more time to collect data and might be more accurate. Good thing, then, that they can now do so from CarPlay. Once they get on iOS 12 and receive this beta version of Google Maps.Those who have both installed will be able to see the Google Maps icon in CarPlay, a spot previously reserved only for Apple Maps. Launching the app, users will be greeted by a view that’s familiar in more ways than one. Google’s concession is apparently to leave almost all UI parts to CarPlay and provide only the map itself.That means that Google Maps in iOS 12 CarPlay will show a familiar blue arrowhead overlay and the same map tiles that Google Maps users have been accustomed to. That works for both cartography and satellite modes. However, the rest of the interface, from settings to toolbar will be consistent with the old CarPlay Apple Maps UI. Best of both worlds, perhaps. As 9to5Mac notes, this new experience isn’t available yet even to a few. For one, iOS 12 isn’t due to lunch until a few more hours. This beta version of Google Maps, however, is even more restricted and no timeline has been announced yet for its launch.
For a lot of us, spam calls and robocalls have gone from being an occasional annoyance to a frequent problem. Some carriers are attempting to do something about that, and today Verizon is hopping on that train. The company announced today that it will soon make its spam and robocall protection tools free for all of its customers to use (as long as they have a phone that supports these features). The company has been offering these spam and robocalling tools for a while now as a feature called Call Filter (previously, it was Caller Name ID). Of course, like most features Verizon offers, Call Filter is currently only available to customers for an extra $3 per month per line. In March, that functionality will be free to all Verizon customers using iOS and Android smartphones.To hear Verizon explain it, Call Filter’s spam tools do three different things. First, they alert users when an incoming call is potentially spam or a robocall. Those tools also allow users to report a number as spam after receiving a call, so if you pick up the phone only to be greeted by a scammer, you can at least help other people avoid that number in the future. Finally, you can also block specific numbers and set up a spam filter, which will send calls from suspicious numbers to voice mail.Of those features, it sounds like the spam alerts will probably be most useful to many of Verizon’s customers. Obviously, Verizon’s system isn’t going to work 100% of the time, especially since robocallers and scammers like to spoof their numbers to make them appear local, but the company touts that its tools have blocked almost one billion robocalls over the past year.Once these features go free, it sounds like Verizon will require subscribers to opt-in to receive spam protection. Verizon said that it will detail the process of signing up for the feature once we get closer to its launch date. We’ll keep an eye out for those details as well as more specific information on when these tools will be going free, so stay tuned. Story TimelineVerizon Gaming streaming service appears in early testingVerizon adds Apple Music as free perk on two Unlimited plansMotorola RAZR could return as Verizon foldable smartphone
It is definitely an unprecedented last-minute change of plans. The LG V50 ThinQ would have launched in the OEM’s home market on April 19 but, just two days before that, it has announced it is putting that on hold. Perhaps a bit more worrying, it doesn’t even have a new target date for that launch.LG is practically putting the blame on preparations for 5G to “enhance customer satisfaction with 5G service”. In particular, it is working on getting the hardware, especially the Snapdragon 855 processor and X50 5G modem, working properly with the newly launched services in Korea. Things you presumed it would have already figured out before setting an April 19 launch date.It might, however, be trying to avoid the problems that the Galaxy S10 5G is now experiencing in the same market. Early adopters of the world’s first commercially available 5G phone are complaining about disconnections when switching from 5G to 4G networks. Considering how 5G isn’t that widespread even in Korea, that’s a critical flaw that needs to be fixed ASAP.AdChoices广告Hopefully, it won’t take long for LG to figure it out, as having one of the first 5G phones in the market could give it an edge. Flanked by the Samsung Galaxy S10 on one side and the Huawei P30 on the other, the LG G8 ThinQ might be having a difficult time standing out. Especially with a OnePlus 7 lurking around the corner. For the first time in its history, LG unveiled both a G series and a V series phone on the same day at MWC 2019 last February. The point was to differentiate the 5G-capable LG V50 ThinQ from its non-5G cousin, the LG G8 ThinQ. But while the G8 ThinQ has already started its rather quiet rollout, the V50 ThinQ apparently won’t be coming anytime soon. That’s because LG has opted to delay its April launch in Korea, which will probably offset global dates as well, all to better prepare for 5G.
Story TimelineMophie Juice Pack Access battery case arrives for iPhone XR, XS, and XS Maxmophie Palm juice pack, powerstation keychain are cute and ironicmophie 2019 powerstation universal batteries fully embrace USB-C If there’s one downside to the Powerstation Hub, it’s that its USB-C PD port tops out at 18W. That means it’s not going to be powerful enough to recharge your laptop, so our dreams of having a single adapter to deal with a computer, phone, and other accessories will have to go unanswered for a little while longer, at least. AdChoices广告Still, that would probably have made the whole thing a lot larger – and more expensive, for that matter – something that can’t really be said about the portable battery as it is. It measures in at 5.6 x 1.5 x 8.5 inches, and tips the scales at 21.7 ounces. Mophie throws in a 1.5 meter AC power cable, too, and a half-meter USB-A to USB-C cable. The removable foldable prong section, meanwhile, should eventually mean that if you’re traveling abroad you could take a different plug with you. Right now there’s no sign of Mophie offering those swappable plugs, mind. The Mophie Powerstation Hub is available for order now, priced at $99.95. The idea is that you can plug the Powerstation Hub into the wall when you’re at home or at the office, and use it to charge up your phone, tablet, or other gadgets as you would with a regular power adapter. There are are two USB-A ports, one supporting Quick Charge 3.0 15W and the other a 5W port, together with a USB-C PD port that works as both an input and an output. The top surface, meanwhile, is a Qi wireless charging pad. If you’ve got a recent smartphone – like an iPhone XS or a Samsung Galaxy S10 – or indeed Qi-enabled accessories like the latest Apple AirPods, you can charge them simply by placing them on top of the Powerstation Hub. A non-slip border around the edge keeps your gadgets in place. Mophie has launched its newest portable battery, but the Powerstation Hub promises to do more than just give your phone a top-up while you’re away from home. While the black block may well be a 6,100 mAh battery, it also has an integrated AC adapter built in, complete with pop-out prongs.
The court’s decision to uphold the law is expected to help nearly every corner of the health care industry, The Associated Press reports. But other outlets also note that insurers are concerned about new rules.The Associated Press: High Court Ruling Benefits Most Health Care FirmsThe Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama’s historic health care overhaul is expected to benefit nearly every corner of the health care industry by expanding coverage to millions of Americans. But it’s not a slam dunk. Hospitals and drugmakers are expected to be flush with new customers because of the law’s requirement that most Americans have insurance by 2014 or pay a fine. Insurers also are expected to experience a boon, but they’ll face a new round of fees and restrictions. It’s unclear if medical device makers will get the same jump in business, and the law calls for them to pay new taxes (Johnson, 6/28).The New York Times: In Health Care Ruling, Investors See A Mixed BlessingHospitals will gain millions of paying customers. Insurers, by contrast, could face crimped profits from restrictive rules. Medical device and pharmaceutical companies will bear new taxes and other higher payouts, but they were already expecting such costs (Pollack and Thomas, 6/28).Reuters: Hospitals Win In Health Ruling, Mixed View For HMOsHospitals and insurers providing Medicaid plans for the poor emerged as the main corporate winners from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law, while investors in large insurers were left deflated. The ruling paves the way for hospitals to see a massive influx of insured customers from the law which is expected to broaden coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans (Krauskopf, 6/28).Reuters: NYC Public Hospitals See Big Financial Hit From Health Care LawThe New York City Health and Hospital Corporation expects to lose $2.3 billion over eight years from the Medicaid cuts included in President Barack Obama’s new health care law. … Alan Aviles, the HHC chief executive officer, said on Thursday that although more people will have insurance, this will not make up for the loss of Medicaid funds (6/28).USA Today: Insurers Like That Health Law Ruling Sets Their PathInsurance companies hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act, saying it gives them certainty about the rules they’ll face as they push to cut administrative costs and reward doctors who contain health care costs by emphasizing preventive care (Mullaney, 6/28).Kaiser Health News: Hospitals Celebrate Decision, But Threats Remain Even if President Barack Obama is re-elected, the ruling letting states refuse the act’s Medicaid expansion puts at risk billions of dollars in potential federal funding of medical care. “We have a lot of questions about that,” said Richard Umbdenstock, CEO of the American Hospital Association. “It wasn’t an area that people focused on.” That’s a financial risk for all hospitals in those states that opt out but especially for “safety net” hospitals that serve the uninsured poor. Not only would the hospitals miss out on the expansion of Medicaid coverage; over time the health act reduces the Medicare and Medicaid surpluses they collect for handling a disproportionate share of low-income patients (Hancock, 6/29). Philadelphia Inquirer: Hospitals Delighted By High Court’s Ruling; Other Health Sectors MixedHospital executives were delighted Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision — called an “unexpected twist” by one — to uphold the nation’s embattled health reform law. “This is good for hospitals because 32 million people will now have some kind of coverage, which they didn’t have previously. We had bad debts from this group because they didn’t have funds to pay,” said Alan B. Miller, chairman and chief executive of King of Prussia hospital operator Universal Health Services Inc. Investors agreed with Miller’s assessment, bidding up hospital stocks by an average of 7 percent (Brubaker, Sell, Burling and Von Bergen, 6/29).Arizona Republic: Obama Health Care Decision Stands To Benefit Hospitals, InsurersSurprise, confusion and skepticism — but also a little relief. Those are reactions from the health-care industry and the broader business community after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the core of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Reginald M. Ballantyne III, senior corporate officer at Vanguard Health Systems in Phoenix, is a former chairman of the American Hospital Association. Though conceding the law has “complexities, nuances and imperfections,” he calls it an important step to reforming the health-care system (Wiles, 6/28).CT Mirror: Connecticut Businesses Concerned About Ruling’s ImpactGroups representing Connecticut businesses Thursday were wary of the Supreme Court’s landmark health care decision, concerned it will drive up costs and even prompt some small businesses to stop offering health insurance altogether. “This is basically a devastating loss for small businesses, which are at the mercy of the law, the law that has already driven up the cost of insurance premiums,” said Andrew E. Markowski, state director of the Connecticut chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. While it is too early to predict the full impact of the ruling, he said that, anecdotally, he has heard that many small businesses plan to stop offering health insurance coverage (Merritt and Phaneuf, 6/28).Los Angeles Times: Retailers, Factories, Main Street React To Supreme Court RulingThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it respects the decision but called for more reforms anyway, maintaining that the ruling “does not change the reality that the health care law is fundamentally flawed.” The Main Street Alliance quoted its members as saying that “this is a good day for small businesses across America … [that] couldn’t afford to go back to the nightmare scenario” before the health care law (Hsu, 6/28).Los Angeles Times: Olive View Sees Health Care Ruling As A New ChallengeIt was a historic moment for the nation’s health care system, but a routine one at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center’s emergency department. Patients packed the waiting room suffering from chest pains, skin infections, stomach cramps and headaches — the least urgent cases waiting up to 12 hours to be seen (Bermudez and Zavis, 6/29). Most Health Care Firms Expect To Benefit From Health Law This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
A meeting Monday between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Florida Gov. Rick Scott on the health care law didn’t seem to yield any immediate results on whether the GOP governor will implement parts of the law, but his willingness to meet may signal he is willing to do just that.Politico: Scott, Sebelius Have ‘Productive’ Obamacare ChatA long-awaited sit-down Monday between Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius didn’t provide any answers on whether one of Obamacare’s biggest critics will suddenly embrace the law. But the fact that the meeting happened at all — and that Scott is keeping up the newly pragmatic tone he’s had since the election — raises the intriguing possibility that one of the nation’s most high-profile Republican governors might actually agree to implement some of the law (Millman and Cheney, 1/7).The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Florida’s Scott Talks Health Overhaul With SebeliusFlorida Republican Gov. Rick Scott is no fan of the health overhaul law, with his state having led the Supreme Court fight against it. But on Monday, he sat down in Washington with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to talk about whether the Sunshine State will work with federal officials to implement it (Dooren, 1/7).CQ HealthBeat: Sebelius And Scott Pow-Wow Produces No Immediate ResultsHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott in Washington on Monday to discuss how the health care law will be implemented in his state, but afterward there didn’t appear to be any agreement forged between the two. In November, Scott, a longtime Republican opponent of the law, had requested the meeting to discuss the cost to Florida of expanding the state’s Medicaid program to uninsured adults as well as the cost of establishing a state-run health insurance exchange. In a statement following the Sebelius meeting, Scott said it was a “great conversation” but repeated his concerns that he doesn’t have enough information on what implementation would cost the state (Norman, 1/7).Reuters: Florida Governor Meets Sebelius On Healthcare, Bridles At CostFlorida Governor Rick Scott kept up his attacks on Obamacare on Monday even after meeting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, complaining that federal health care reforms could cost Florida $26 billion over the next decade. Scott, a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare, told reporters following the meeting in Washington that Medicaid program costs, which state officials say could mushroom over the next 10 years, continue to be his major concern. Scott was among a group of Republican governors who fought hard against the federal mandate and waited until the outcome of the November election before proceeding in earnest to comply with the law. “I understand the need to have a quality health care safety net for every Florida family that can’t afford their own health care,” Scott told reporters. “But we have to do it at a price that Floridians can afford” (Peltier, 1/7). Health News Florida: Scott Keeps Using Wrong Medicaid Numbers, Records ShowGov. Rick Scott says he opposes expanding Florida Medicaid because it would cost too much: $63 billion over 10 years, he says, with the state paying $26 billion of that. But those numbers are based on a flawed report, state budget analysts say. A series of e-mails obtained by Health News Florida shows the analysts warned Scott’s office the numbers were wrong weeks ago, but he is still using them. He cited them in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed on Sunday and at at a Washington press conference on Monday. The flawed report, “Estimates Related to the Affordable Care Act,” was sent to members of the Legislative Budget Commission on Dec. 17. Three days later, two of the recipients pointed out the faulty assumptions and sent it back to AHCA for a do-over. They said it would violate Florida law to proceed with the estimate (Gentry, 1/8).In other states, decisions loom on whether and how states will implement health insurance exchanges and the Medicaid expansion –Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Conn., Insurance Capital, Moves Ahead With Exchange PlansFive health plans — including all the major insurers in the state’s individual and small group markets — have told Connecticut’s health insurance exchange that they plan to offer policies in the state’s new online marketplace this fall. Exchange officials said Monday that Aetna, United Healthcare, Anthem, ConnectiCare and a new nonprofit co-op owned by the Connecticut State Medical Society have filed letters of intent to sell coverage, exchange officials said Monday (Galewitz, 1/8).MPR: Health Insurance Exchange, MinnesotaCare, Medicaid Decisions Due At LegislatureState lawmakers are under a tight deadline as they tackle a number of issues related to the federal health care overhaul, including passing legislation to set up a health insurance exchange, the fate of MinnesotaCare and an expansion of Medicaid. The exchange will serve as the online gateway for more than a million Minnesotans to comparison shop for health insurance policies and enroll in government programs such as Medicaid. Health insurance exchange legislation has faced a difficult couple of years at the state Capital, opposed by a Republican majority hostile to President Barack Obama’s health care law. With Democrats now in power, such legislation should move along a smoother path (Stawicki, 1/8). State Of Health: Analysis: Medicaid Expansion Brings ‘Minimal’ State CostsA new report finds California could see a significant increase in Medi-Cal coverage at “minimal” cost to the state. Medi-Cal is the state’s version of Medicaid, health insurance largely for the poor. In the new study from researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA, analysts report that 1.4 million California adults under 65 will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal. The Affordable Care Act says the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of these new enrollees from 2014 to 2016 and no less than 90 percent of the cost after that. In addition, the implementation of the ACA is expected to bring many people already eligible for Medi-Cal into the fold. The state will pay a greater share of the costs for those people. Altogether, analysts project that from 2014 to 2016, California will incur additional annual costs between $188 million and $471 million. But at the same time, billions of dollars will flow into the state, paying the overwhelming majority of total costs for the newly enrolled and those already eligible (Aliferis, 1/7).And Sebelius is telling states they should review insurance rate increases more carefully –CQ HealthBeat: HHS Secretary Pushes States To Do More On Rate ReviewHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Monday called on states to beef up their reviews of proposed insurance rate increases. As part of a statement on national health expenditures, Sebelius said states should “continue the work to hold insurance companies accountable by reviewing and building the capacity to deny unreasonable health insurance rate increases.” On Sunday, The New York Times highlighted some proposed double-digit increases in premiums for individual and small-group market customers in states such as California, Florida and Ohio (Adams, 1/7). Sebelius, Fla. Gov. Scott Have Health Care Chat With No Immediate Results This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Viewpoints: Predictions Of Rising Premiums; Health Law Anniversary The Arizona Republic: Sebelius’ Latest “Glitch”: Slow-Rising Insurance CostsNo one challenges reality like Kathleen Sebelius, who assured the world on Sept. 30, 2013 that the Affordable Care Act website would be open for business the next day. “We’re very excited about tomorrow,” Sebelius said. “Shutdown or no shutdown, we’re ready to go.” The rollout was an epic catastrophe, of course. Even now, it is difficult to find a parallel to the enormity of the belly flop it made (Doug MacEachern, 3/20).Forbes: 4 Reasons Why Obamacare Exchange Premiums May ‘Double In Some Parts Of The Country’ In 2015As we reach the end of the first year of enrollment in Obamacare’s subsidized health insurance exchanges, we’ve been trying to solve a couple of mysteries. First: how many people who have signed up for coverage were previously uninsured? Second: will the botched rollout and design flaws lead to even higher health insurance costs next year? We’re starting to get indications from insurers that premiums on the exchanges will go up significantly in 2015 (Avik Roy, 3/20).The New York Times’ Room For Debate: The Health Care Law’s Checkup Four years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Is the law working? What needs to be fixed? And what is beyond repair? (3/20).The Washington Post: The GOP’s Need For Creative Policy Over the past several years, increases in insurance premiums have averaged nearly 6 percent. Because of the rocky launch, age distribution and delayed provisions of Obamacare exchanges, insurance company officials expect far larger premium increases this spring — in the double digits, if not the triple digits, in many places. This is an administration that learns nothing. Rather than preparing people for increased premiums, and trying to explain the additional benefits of the new system, it says, in effect: If you like your current health insurance premium, you can keep your current health insurance premium (Michael Gerson, 3/20).New England Journal of Medicine: Vivek Murthy For Surgeon General On February 27, a bipartisan group of senators on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved [Vivek] Murthy’s nomination for surgeon general and forwarded it for a vote by the full Senate. But now, astonishingly, the nomination appears to be in jeopardy and may be delayed or withdrawn altogether. How could this have happened to such a distinguished and highly qualified nominee? The answer lies with the National Rifle Association (NRA). It is of great concern to us and to many other members of the health care community that Murthy’s nomination is in jeopardy because of NRA opposition. The NRA opposes Murthy solely on the grounds that he has advocated reasonable and mainstream forms of gun regulation (Gregory D. Curfman, Stephen Morrissey, Debra Malina and Jeffrey M. Drazen, 3/20).Roll Call: Why We Are Fighting For The Birth Control BenefitAs we approach March 25, when the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the birth control benefit, Planned Parenthood Federation of America is pressing the pedal to the metal to make sure every American knows that this benefit is basic health care for women (Dana E. Singiser, 3/20).The Washington Post: Fox News’s Bret Baier Corrects Obamacare Mistake Fox News anchor Bret Baier screwed up on Tuesday night’s edition of his acclaimed show, “Special Report.” As part of a “checkup” series on Obamacare, Baier took a close look at those who would remain uninsured after the March 31 enrollment deadline expires. … Among those who’d be left out of the party, Baier continued, were indigent folks in Republican-led states that had opted out of the Obama administration’s Medicaid expansion. Such individuals faced a certain double jeopardy, in Baier’s formulation: “For those people, they not only face the prospect of not having health insurance coverage despite Obamacare, but now they will have to pay a penalty because of it.” Untrue. The law provides a hardship exemption for those people. No penalty. To his eternal credit, Baier cleared up the matter on last night’s program (Eric Wemple, 3/20). The Washington Post: Dueling Maps Of Abortion Protesters, Providers Push Battle Into Personal Territory Is it fair to post an online database of names, photos, home addresses and telephone numbers of abortion protesters? A Maryland-based group, Voice of Choice, did just that: It created an online map of more than 150 protesters across the nation who target doctors and health centers that provide legal abortions, complete with all the personal information it could find on each one. The map is nearly identical to one that opponents of abortion rights have at AbortionDocs.org, which pinpoints doctors and clinics. … The truth is, none of this should be handled this way (Petula Dvorak, 3/20). Los Angeles Times: Three Genetic Parents — For One Healthy Baby Since January, a new California law allows for a child to have more than two legal parents. But children are still limited to two genetic parents. That could change soon, if the Food and Drug Administration approves human clinical trials for a technique known as mitochondrial replacement, which would enable a child to inherit DNA from three parents. News of the pending application has caused a kind of panic not seen since Dolly the sheep was cloned, raising the possibility of a single genetic parent. But far from being the end of the human race as we know it, the technique might be a way to prevent hundreds of mitochondrial-linked diseases, which affect about one in 5,000 people (Judith Daar and Erez Aloni, 3/21). Los Angeles Times: We Can’t Afford Not To Spend More Money On Alzheimer’s Research A study by researchers at Rand Corp. and other institutions calculated that the direct cost of care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in 2010 was $109 billion. In comparison, healthcare costs for people with heart disease was $102 billion; for people with cancer, it was $77 billion. Yet cancer research will be allocated an estimated $5.4 billion this year in federal funds, and heart disease will get $1.2 billion — while research on Alzheimer’s and other dementias comes in at only a fraction of that, at $666 million. It’s time to substantially increase that budget (3/19). The New York Times: TV Lowers Birthrate (Seriously) In the struggle to break cycles of poverty, experts have been searching for decades for ways to lower America’s astronomical birthrate among teenagers. We’ve tried virginity pledges, condoms and sex education. And, finally, we have a winner, a tool that has been remarkably effective in cutting teenage births. It’s “16 and Pregnant,” a reality show on MTV that has been a huge hit, spawning spinoffs like the “Teen Mom” franchise. These shows remind youthful viewers that babies cry and vomit, scream in the middle of the night and poop with abandon (Nicholas Kristof, 3/19).New England Journal of Medicine: Graded Autonomy In Medical Education — Managing Things That Go Bump In The Night Traditionally, physician training has followed the apprenticeship model: students, residents, and clinical fellows participate in delivering medical services to patients under the supervision of accredited professionals. This hierarchical system offers trainees graded responsibility, enabling them to learn their trade by performing increasingly complex functions over time and experiencing gradual reductions in supervision. Whether by design or not, the middle of the night has historically been the time when trainees were able — and indeed required — to practice more independently. … This model … was called into question by the death of Libby Zion in a New York emergency department in 1984. … studies suggest that newer resident-training approaches entailing reduced work hours and curtailed autonomy may not achieve the goal of improving the safety of patients today (Scott D. Halpern and Allan S. Detsky, 3/20). The Oregonian: Bruce Goldberg Goes, But Oregon’s Health Care Challenges RemainIf Bruce Goldberg’s resignation as Oregon Health Authority director wasn’t inevitable before this week, it certainly became so with Thursday’s release of a damning outside review of Cover Oregon’s technology debacle. This report identified Rocky King, Bruce Goldberg and Carolyn Lawson as the three key decision-makers in the state’s ambitious project to create a customized online health insurance exchange. King, the folksy head of Cover Oregon, and Carolyn Lawson, the hard-driving IT director imported from California, both resigned months ago. Goldberg, a respected figure in Oregon health care, was next. This housecleaning is a necessary part of holding state leaders accountable for bungling the rollout of a key government initiative (3/20).
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Health Law Influences Small Business Owners’ Decisions The Wall Street Journal reports that even though the mandate was delayed requiring businesses with more than 50 employees to provide coverage for their workers, the overhaul is affecting how companies are run. In addition, Fox News reports that doctors could be left with unpaid bills if enrollees don’t pay their premiums, and Politico writes about a study that challenges the notion that the health law resulted in millions of canceled policies.The Wall Street Journal: Small Businesses Find Benefits, Costs As They Navigate Affordable Care ActMany small businesses won a reprieve from having to provide health insurance under the Affordable Care Act until 2015 or later. But the law is already having a lasting impact on how lots of owners choose to run their companies. Some owners have begun to weigh strategies that might help them avoid complying with the law later on, such as opting out of providing the required coverage and instead paying a federal penalty of $2,000 for each full-time worker after the first 30. Others have begun restructuring their businesses, reducing their employees’ hours, for example, or trimming their total head counts to fewer than 50 full-time workers (Needleman and Loten, 4/23).Fox News: Nonpayment Of ObamaCare Premiums Could Cost DoctorsWhile the debate continues over how many ObamaCare enrollees are actually paying their premiums, one aspect of the law temporarily rewards those who actually stop paying – and doctors may wind up bearing the cost. “This law provides a 90-day grace period for people who have subsidized ObamaCare exchange plans and stopped paying their premium,” said Betsy McCaughey, health care author and former New York lieutenant governor. But the insurance companies are only obligated to cover the first 30 days of the 90-day grace period (Angle, 4/24). Earlier, related KHN coverage: Doctors Say Obamacare Rule Will Stick Them With Unpaid Bills, (Rabin, 3/19).Politico: Study Questions Obamacare Impact On Canceled PlansMillions of the plans that were canceled because they did not meet Affordable Care Act requirements probably would have been canceled anyway — by the policyholders, a new study suggests. Last fall, as cancellation letters arrived in mailboxes around the country, opponents of the law cited them as evidence that President Barack Obama had lied to Americans when he promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” (Wheaton, 4/23).
A selection of health policy stories from California, Missouri, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia.Los Angeles Times: Official Says County Health System Needs 700 New Nurses To Boost CareLos Angeles County health officials said Wednesday that they need to hire more than 700 new nurses to shore up and sustain the county’s medical system in the new Obamacare world. The Department of Health Services presented a report to the Board of Supervisors on a hiring plan that was included in the county’s proposed budget released last month (Karlamangla, 5/14).Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader/USA Today: Mo. Lawmakers Pass 3-Day Abortion Wait PeriodMissouri could become only the third state requiring women to wait 72 hours to have an abortion under legislation passed Wednesday night. Following a tense debate, the state House voted 111-39 to send House Bill 1307 the abortion measure to Gov. Jay Nixon. Lawmakers ensured the passage of the legislation earlier this week when Senate Democrats cut a deal with Republicans to stop filibustering the bill in exchange for stopping other controversial bills (Shormanb, 5/15). The Associated Press: Maine Gov. Says Nursing Home Funding Need CriticalMaine Gov. Paul LePage said Wednesday that the state’s nursing homes are at risk because of the Legislature’s failure to fully fund them and pledged to find the money to ensure that they won’t be forced to close their doors. Lawmakers adjourned earlier this month, but the debate over the nursing home funding goes on, with LePage threatening to haul the Democratic-led Legislature back for a special session to resolve the issue (5/14).Los Angeles Times: Study Of California Hospitals Shows A Third Of Patients Have DiabetesThe disproportionate numbers of diabetic patients — overall, only 11.6 percent of Californians in that age group have diabetes — have resulted in significant added hospital expenses, study authors said. The average cost of hospitalization for a person with diabetes was about $2,200 more than that for a person without the disorder, said study lead author Ying-Ying Meng, a researcher at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (Brown, 5/15).The Detroit Free Press: Seven Metro Detroit Providers Charged In National Take Takedown On Medicare Fraud Medicare fraud continues to run rampant in metro Detroit, where seven defendants were charged Tuesday in a nationwide takedown of health care schemes — joining dozens of others who have been indicted in recent years for scamming the government out of millions of dollars for bogus medical claims. Among those is Oakland County patient recruiter Richard Shannon, 41, who was sentenced Tuesday to seven-plus years in prison for his role in a nearly $14.5-million Medicare fraud scheme. His crimes included recruiting poor Medicare beneficiaries from housing projects and soup kitchens, obtaining their patient information in exchange for cash and promises of pain pills prescribed by doctors who were also part of the scheme. Shannon, who was convicted in a jury trial, also paid Medicare beneficiaries to sign blank documents for physical therapy services that were never provided or medically unnecessary (Baldas, 5/14).North Carolina Health News: McCrory’s Health Care Budget Contains Many Health Trims, Small AdditionsOn the same day lawmakers at the General Assembly started their work for the short legislative session, Gov. Pat McCrory presented his budget adjustments for the 2014-15 fiscal year. In a plan that McCrory said covers the Medicaid shortfall while also giving raises to teachers and state employees, the governor proposed a total budget outlay of $20.9 billion for the coming year; $5.01 billion of that covers funding for the Department of Health and Human Services. But though the plan covers the entire cost of the state’s Medicaid outlay, has a $168 million surplus and adds $50 million to a reserve fund, it teases more revenue out of hospitals, asks mental health managed care organizations to send money back to the state and moves money to create more slots for 4-year-olds to enter the Pre-K program (Hoban, 5/15).North Carolina Health News: Naloxone ‘Saves’ Help Drop Rate Of Overdose Deaths In N.C. Advocates of the harm-reduction approach to drug abuse say that since a law went into effect last year, dozens of lives have been saved by administration of the opiate antidote naloxone (Hoban, 5/14).The Houston Chronicle: Women’s Health Main Theme Of Wendy Davis Campaign StopThe Democratic nominees for governor and lieutenant governor — state Sens. Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte — appeared together in Houston Tuesday at a sold out Annie’s List luncheon, where both women delivered keynote speeches and painted their Republican political opponents as good, old boys who have championed policies harmful to women and minorities. “It’s clear from the Republicans’ War on Women that they feel entitled to speak for women, but they don’t even bother to listen to us in the first place,” Van de Putte told a Galleria hotel ballroom packed with more than 800 attendees, mostly women. … The San Antonio Democrat bashed her likely opponent this November, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, for authoring a bill – now law – requiring women to get ultrasounds before having an abortion (Collier, 5/13).Georgia Health News: ACA Likely To Dominate Race For Insurance PostWith crowded, high-profile contests for a U.S. Senate seat and the governorship, most Georgia voters are not focused on who’s running for the state insurance commissioner post. The party primaries are May 20, but early in-person voting began on April 28. Once the nominees are chosen, the insurance commissioner race is expected to attract more voter interest. The general election is set for Nov. 4 (Stafford, 5/14).The San Francisco Chronicle: Campos Tries Again To Plug Loophole In S.F. Health Care LawAs San Francisco Supervisor David Campos tries yet again to close a loophole in the city’s universal health care ordinance that has allowed employers to take back tens of millions of dollars earmarked for workers’ health care, he will point to residents such as Brent Sanchez. Sanchez, a 38-year-old Tenderloin resident, works more than 40 hours a week bartending and serving food at Tacolicious and Daniel Patterson Group restaurants. The companies he works for — and by extension, the customers he serves — are all paying into a fund that is supposed to help him get medical care when he needs it. But Sanchez said he’s never touched that money, because it’s never been enough to help him buy full health insurance (Lagos, 5/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. State Highlights: 700 Nurses Needed In Calif. County; Nursing Home Funding In Maine
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: How The Sequester Could Cost Obamacare Insurers In a Think Tank post Thursday, I wrote about how insurers deciding to participate next year in the health exchanges established under Obamacare could be expecting funds that the federal government may not have legal authority to disburse. But that’s not the only potential pitfall for carriers: They could also end up on the hook for payment reductions caused by sequestration (Chris Jacobs, 6/23). Philadelphia Daily News: Poor Bill Of Health In one respect, the Affordable Care Act has also become a perfect controlled experiment: Almost exactly half the states have accepted a federal expansion of Medicaid as part of ACA, and the other half — all ruled by Republicans — haven’t. … Recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute studied this petri dish to measure the impact on expansion of Medicaid to the uninsured, by studying 14 big cities around the country, including Philadelphia. Seven of those cities are in states with expanded Medicaid and seven are in states without. While the outcomes of Medicaid expansion should shock no one, the disparity between those states that have expanded and those that haven’t is disturbing (6/23). Roanoke Times: McAuliffe And Medicaid: Beware The Precedent Democrats may cheer [Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s vow to bypass the legislature to expand Medicaid] now, but someday could rue the precedent if a future Republican governor can’t get his way with the legislature. Two other governors confronted with legislative opposition have expanded Medicaid through executive action — Democrat Steve Beshear in Kentucky and, curiously, Republican John Kasich in Ohio, who otherwise opposes Obamacare but bucked his own party because he thought Medicaid expansion was a better deal for Ohioans than the alternative. He explained it to talk show host Laura Ingraham this way last winter: “Conservatism means that you help people so they can help themselves and that they can enter into the economic strength of our country.” Those, however, are different states with different laws and different constitutions (6/24). The San Jose Mercury News: Health Care Challenge: Medi-Cal Insurance Doesn’t Guarantee Access Expanding Medi-Cal is one of the important ways the ACA increases access to health insurance, but providing insurance does not ensure health care will be available. It’s important to understand the facts related to access to health care in our state. Thankfully, California is one of the states that committed to expanding government coverage for the poor and uninsured. At this time, the number of Californians served by Medi-Cal is increasing and approaching one-third of our population, or 10 million. Unfortunately, reimbursement rates for providers who serve the poor are declining drastically (Reymundo C. Espinoza, 6/23). St. Louis Post-Dispatch: UnitedHealthCare Disadvantages Medicare Advantage One of the major flaws in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is also one of the reasons it was able to pass: It accommodated, and in some ways enhanced, the role of for-profit insurance companies. Last week, the Post-Dispatch’s Tara Kulash reported that thousands of Missouri seniors and hundreds of its doctors had learned that they’d be paying a high price for this accommodation. The patients are among the 95,000 Missourians who purchased a Medicare Advantage plan from UnitedHealthCare (2013 profits: $10 billion). … The company, the nation’s largest seller of Medicare Advantage plans, is reducing the number of doctors in its approved-provider network. It appears to be trying to steer patients into large hospital-affiliated physician groups, where there are economies of scale. By Sept. 1, eight months into the coverage year, patients will have to find new doctors. Had there been the political will to enact a single-payer national healthcare system, this sort of problem could have been avoided (6/24). Tampa Bay Times: Florida Falling Short For Seniors Florida has undermined its reputation as an attractive retirement destination for seniors by failing to provide enough resources for their long-term care. A new national study ranks Florida 43rd among 50 states and the District of Columbia in helping seniors live independently and stay out of nursing homes. As baby boomers get older, the need for long-term care services will increase exponentially, and the state is woefully unprepared to keep up with demand (6/20). Viewpoints: Overlooked Costs For Insurers; Medicaid Disparities; Dropping Doctors From Medicare Advantage
A selection of health policy stories from California, Kansas, Washington state and Maryland.San Jose Mercury News: Drugging Our Kids: California Calls For New Checks On Psych Meds For Foster KidsIn a significant step toward curbing the overuse of psychiatric drugs in California’s foster care system, doctors will soon be required to get extra authorization to prescribe antipsychotics, a new safeguard to protect some of the state’s most overmedicated children. Beginning Oct. 1, a state pharmacist must verify the “medical necessity” of each antipsychotic prescription before the medications can be given to children who are 17 and younger and covered by Medi-Cal, the state’s health program for the poor that also includes foster children (De Sa, 9/18).Kansas Health Institute News Service: Kansas To Expand Employment Support To Mentally IllThe Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has been awarded a five-year, $3.9 million federal grant to expand employment services for Kansans with severe mental illness, including those with a mental illness and co-occurring substance disorder. KDADS received the grant to expand individual placement and support services from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Enhancing Supported Employment in Kansas (ESEK) project is designed to help people with mental illness achieve steady employment in mainstream competitive jobs, either part-time or full-time (9/17). Seattle Times: Planned Parenthood ‘Office Visit’ Via App Gets You Birth Control“Isn’t there an app for that?” Turns out there is, if what you’re after is birth control or a test for a sexually transmitted infection. In the latest example of fast-growing “telemedicine,” video conferencing that virtually extends medical expertise, Planned Parenthood is rolling out a pilot project for real-time “office visits” that bring patient and medical provider face to face on a smartphone, tablet or personal computer. Fueling the Planned Parenthood Care project, under way in Washington and Minnesota, is a “horrible statistic,” says Chris Charbonneau, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest: “People are sexually active for six to nine months before they get a really reliable birth-control method” (Ostrom, 9/18). Kansas City Star: Hospital Will Start Billing Health Insurers For Claims In Auto Accidents Instead Of Collecting From Auto Insurance SettlementsTruman Medical Center in Kansas City has agreed to stop a billing practice that involves refusing to accept a patient’s health insurance. The concession is part of a proposed settlement valued at $478,000 to dispose of a lawsuit against the hospital. Truman Medical Center allegedly didn’t file health insurance claims for some patients injured in auto accidents, which allowed it to avoid the deep discounts typically required by health insurers. It could then seek more money for its medical services, mainly from auto insurance settlements. In court documents, the hospital said it is ready to stop the billing method and provide some financial relief to more than 180 patients who were subjected to the billing practice. The hospital said it will partly reimburse those who have already paid their bills and seek no further payments from those who haven’t (Everly, 9/18). Baltimore Sun: A Push For Paid Family LeaveA growing movement of workers — and their supporters in Annapolis and Washington — wants to make the [paid leave] benefit universal. Democrats in Congress have proposed a fund that would pay a worker up to two-thirds of his or her monthly wages for 12 weeks to care for a new child or an elderly family member. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island have expanded their state disability insurance programs to cover family leave. The Obama administration has offered grants for other states to study how they might also offer the benefit. In Maryland, Del. Heather Mizeur proposed a paid family leave program modeled on California’s during her unsuccessful campaign this year for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. In California, a portion of the state payroll tax paid by employees goes into a fund. Eligible workers on family leave can draw on that fund to cover a portion of their salary (King and Campbell, 9/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. State Highlights: Kan. Employment Support For Those With Mental Illness
Three consumers filed a lawsuit accusing Mylan Pharmaceuticals of paying kickbacks to pharmacy benefits managers in order to boost EpiPen sales, which caused them to unfairly overpay for the allergy-reaction device that has been at the center of the national debate over the high cost of medicines. Their allegations take aim at the convoluted interplay between drug makers and pharmacy benefit managers, which are middlemen that negotiate favorable insurance coverage for medicines on behalf of insurers. The PBMs attempt to extract the best prices from drug makers and, for their trouble receive rebates, some of which are held back as fees. (Silverman, 4/3) Reuters: Mylan Hit With New Class Action Lawsuit Over EpiPen Pricing Although other lawsuits have been filed over EpiPen pricing, Monday’s is the first to focus on the role of PBMs and to bring claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal law historically used against organized crime. (Pierson, 4/3) The latest lawsuit alleged Mylan violated a federal racketeering statute and various states’ consumer-protection laws by raising the EpiPen’s list price to give a share of the proceeds to pharmacy-benefit managers, or PBMs, and ensure the device was available for sale to patients. PBMs manage pharmacy benefits for employers, and insurers and can influence which drugs are covered by placing them on preferred lists. (Rockoff, 4/3) Stat: Mylan Sued By Consumers Claiming PBM Rebates Are Kickbacks Consumers Sue Mylan Claiming Company ‘Gamed The System’ In Order To Boost EpiPen Sales The lawsuit focuses on the relationship between the company and pharmacy benefit managers, which are coming under increasing scrutiny for their role in high drug prices. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Wall Street Journal: Mylan Hit With Lawsuit Alleging It Overcharged EpiPen Patients
Research Roundup: Price Transparency; Cost Of Not Expanding Medicaid; Coverage In Rural Areas Each week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs. To quantify the prevalence of 10 quit methods commonly used by adult cigarette smokers, we used data from a nationally representative longitudinal (2014–2016) online survey of US adult cigarette smokers (n = 15,943). Overall, 74.7% of adult current cigarette smokers used multiple quit methods during their most recent quit attempt. Giving up cigarettes all at once (65.3%) and reducing the number of cigarettes smoked (62.0%) were the most prevalent methods. Substituting some cigarettes with e-cigarettes was used by a greater percentage of smokers than the nicotine patch, nicotine gum, or other cessation aids approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. (Caraballo et al., 4/13) Question: Does increasing price transparency for inpatient laboratory tests in the electronic health record at the time of order entry influence clinician ordering behavior? Finding: In this year-long randomized clinical trial including 98 529 patients at 3 hospitals, displaying Medicare allowable fees in the electronic health record at the time of order entry did not lead to a significant change in overall clinician ordering behavior. Meaning: These findings suggest that price transparency alone may not lead to significant changes in clinician behavior, and future price transparency interventions may need to be better targeted, framed, or combined with other approaches. (Sedrak et al., 4/21) Urban Institute/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Cost Of Not Expanding Medicaid This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. JAMA Internal Medicine: Effect Of A Price Transparency Intervention In The Electronic Health Record On Clinician Ordering Of Inpatient Laboratory Tests Medicare’s Oncology Care Model (OCM) is designed to incentivize providers to reduce unnecessary spending, improve care, and involve patients more closely in decisions aboutthe use of chemotherapy. The model includes a 13-point care plan recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) that represents a significant step toward making patients partners in their own care; in particular, it aims the volume of OCM episodes by reducing overly aggressive use of chemotherapy and underuse of hospice services among patients who are close to death. However, IOM recommendations since 1999 and recent medical literature suggest that a formal shared decision-making process (SDM) remains vitally important. This paper discusses the rationale for and barriers to adopting a more formal SDM. (Millenson and Berenson, 4/23) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report/CDC: Trends In Repeat Births And Use Of Postpartum Contraception Among Teens — United States, 2004–2015 This brief describes Medicaid’s role for 52 million nonelderly children and adults living in the most rural areas in the United States and discusses how expansions or reductions in Medicaid could affect rural areas. … Although private insurance accounts for the largest share of health coverage in rural areas, nonelderly individuals in rural areas are less likely to have private coverage compared to those in urban and other areas (61% vs. 64% and 66%, respectively). Medicaid helps fill this gap in private coverage, covering nearly one in four (24%) nonelderly individuals in rural areas. Further, in many states, Medicaid coverage rates are higher in rural areas than in urban or other areas of the state. (Foutz, Artiga and Garfield, 4/25) Nineteen states have not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). We estimate that from 2018 through 2027, expansion in these states would increase nominal state costs and federal spending by $59.9 billion and $427.5 billion, respectively, if enrollment is moderate and by $62.9 billion and $487.0 billion if enrollment is high. Each state dollar would thus draw down between $7.14 and $7.75 in net federal funding. (Dorn and Buettgens, 4/27) Preventing Chronic Disease/CDC: Quit Methods Used by US Adult Cigarette Smokers, 2014–2016 From 2004 to 2015, the number and percentage of teen births that were repeat births decreased 53.8% and 16.9%, respectively; in 2015, the percentage of teen births that were repeat births varied by state from 10.6% to 21.4%. Among teens with a recent live birth, use of the most effective contraceptive methods postpartum increased substantially, from 5.3% in 2004 to 25.3% in 2013; however, in 2013, approximately one in three teens with a recent live birth reported using a least effective contraceptive method or no method postpartum. (Dee et al., 4/27) Kaiser Family Foundation: The Role Of Medicaid In Rural America In this binational cohort study, which included 968 264 patients who received transfusions, there was no association between age and/or sex of blood donors and survival of patients. Even among the patients who received multiple units of blood from very young or very old donors, absolute mortality differences compared with patients who received no such units of blood were consistently below 0.5%. (Edgren et al., 4/24) Urban Institute: Shared Decisions In Cancer Care: Is Medicare Providing A Model? JAMA Internal Medicine: Association Of Donor Age And Sex With Survival Of Patients Receiving Transfusions