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ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * January 8, 2020
UPCOMING ABL HEALTHCARE
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  • 1/08 - San Francisco Round Table
  • 1/14 - Silicon Valley Round Table
  • 1/16 - East Bay/Oakland Round Table (new "third Thursday" date)
  • 1/17 - Los Angeles Round Table
  • 1/22 - Orange County Round Table (date moved due to 1/1 holiday)
  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS!

>>> Dolores Gomez is CEO of Mission Hospice and Home Care, which has provided thousands of patients and their families with physical, emotional, and spiritual support throughout the journey from a life-threatening diagnosis through death and bereavement. Most of Mission's patients receive care in their own homes, but Mission also cares for people in assisted living, board and care, SNFs, and elsewhere, and its hospice house offers a peaceful, homelike option for those at the very end of life whose symptoms cannot be managed at home. The Joint Commission awarded the company its Gold Seal of Approval® for Home Care Accreditation, as well as Community-Based Palliative Care Certification. In 2019, Mission, together with Hospice of Santa Cruz County and The Elizabeth Hospice in San Diego, formed the California Hospice Network (CHN) - a strategic partnership committed to sustaining local, nonprofit, community-based hospice care throughout California. While remaining independent, Mission will work together with CHN member partners to share best practices, maximize operational economies and efficiencies, and ensure long-term viability within a changing healthcare environment. Prior to becoming CEO of Mission in October 2019, Dolores was Director of Quality and an RN Consultant at Stanford Health Care/ University Healthcare Alliance; Chief Clinical Officer at Vibra Healthcare; and COO of Sutter Mills Peninsula Medical Center. Dolores has joined the San Francisco Round Table.

>>> Kathryne McGowan is CEO at Reta Trust, a non-profit employer trust that has provided affordable, quality healthcare for employees and members of Catholic organizations nationwide for 40+ years. The Reta Trust currently serves nearly 60 Roman Catholic dioceses, archdioceses, religious communities, and other institutions across the U.S. These Trustors help coordinate delivery of services to their member organizations. All Reta healthcare plans are designed to comply with the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church. Individual member organizations elect a Board of Trustees that governs all aspects of Reta's policies, operations and budget for the self-funded Trust. Through prudent management and leadership, Reta has consistently provided a fully funded plan status. Beyond that, Reta Trust has been able to return nearly $100 million in premium credits to its member organizations since 2006. Prior to taking the helm of Reta Trust in October 2019, Kathryne was CEO of Premier/ Golden State Health Plans and Coast Healthcare Management, LLC, part of Tenet Healthcare; Senior VP/ Executive Director of Population Health and Aspirus Network Inc.; and held executive roles at WEA Trust, Physicians Plus Insurance Corp., Innovative Resource Group, and Health Ventures Inc. Kathryne has also joined the San Francisco Round Table.

Click on Headlines Below to Read Articles

HEALTHCARE MEMBER NEWS
  An Ode to Next Week’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference
by Mimi Grant

'Twas the 13th of January, when all through the City
Not a room could be found for the usual kitty.
Luring VCs, and PEs, and I-Bankers, too
JP Morgan's Health Conf'rence is quite the to-do.

Armani and Gucci's the dress code for four days,
Plus, red ties and pinstripes give attendees away.
While the Event's hub at the Westin is found,
Receptions and meetings take place all around.

Non-profits and for-profits all make their play:
"No margin, no mission's" the phrase of the day.
With $3.6 Trillion at stake in health’s game
No wonder for thousands, San Francisco's their aim.

So on Uber, on Lyft, and a few Yellow Cabs
And trollies and Munis, and walking – so fab
In a town known for Tech and Unicorns rare:
Herald Healthcare's 38th Annual financial affair!

 
EXPANDED ARTICLES
HEALTHCARE MEMBER NEWS
OneLegacy CEO Comments on HHS Proposed Rules to Increase Availability of Donated Organs

On December 17, 2019, CMS and HRSA announced two proposed rules intended to: (1) enforce accountability from Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO) for their performance; and (2) promote more organ donations from living donors. These proposed rules were released in accordance with President Trump's Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health, which directs HHS to improve the organ donation allocation process. The executive order may be found here. (Read: King & Spalding Health Headlines article, 12/23/19)

When asked for his comments on this news, ABL Member Tom Mone, CEO of OneLegacy, the largest organ, eye and tissue recovery organization in the world, said: "The US organ donation system is completing its 10th year of record-setting organ recoveries for transplant (a 10% increase this year alone!) due to rising authorization rates by registered donors and families and ever-greater collaboration with hospital leaders and caregivers who recognize that enabling organ donation is a part of caring for families and their communities. Unfortunately, the White House, influenced by transplant surgeons who do not support long-standing federal law requiring the broadest possible sharing of organs, has dismissed this growth and the US international leadership in donation and transplantation. The changes in OPO metrics and oversight they propose are based on data that is grossly unreliable and will result in unnecessary disruption on the US donation system. Fortunately, there is a far better, more detailed, independently-reported metric of possible donor referrals and Brain Death diagnoses that are currently captured by hospitals that will in fact build on successful collaboration and will increase donation. We are confident that CMS and the Congress will support this collaboration." (Tom Mone, Los Angeles)

Alinea Medical Imaging Teams with Good Human Foundation

Alinea Medical Imaging recently partnered with the Good Human Foundation to participate in their Babes for Boobs event, an annual live bachelor auction that raises money for the Susan G. Komen organization. Attendees and participants were able to tour an Alinea Mobile Mammography Bus, featuring the latest technological advancements in breast cancer screening. (Monish Laxpati, MD, Orange County)

Bayer & Idean Announce "Welly" AI Coach & Fitness App

Idean and Bayer iHub have debuted Welly, a digital coach in an app that analyzes a user's health metrics from all their wearables, smart sensors, and smartphones to offer timely, actionable health insights, and recommendations. It allows the user to view their health metrics like sleep, calm, and activity in one place, without switching across various apps. Welly offers two engaging AI personas: a friendly "Coach" who is available 24/7 to answer questions, give advice, and provide timely encouragement; and a "Challenger" who playfully pushes the user to be a healthier version of their current self. (Dirk Schapeler, Silicon Valley)

CareAcademy Integrates with AlayaCare + Approved by State of Washington

CareAcademy has partnered and integrated with home care software provider AlayaCare, in order to provide its clients more options for care provider training. Also, CareAcademy's online continuing education for home care aides and CNAs is now approved by Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. And, CareAcademy is offering a variety of on-demand webinars - available here, including "What You Need to Know About Buying and Selling Home Care Agencies;" "The Home Care Agency Owner's Guide to Dealing with Grief;" "Home Health Aide Training Program;" and "Medicare Advantage Panel with Home Health Care News & Anne Tumlinson Innovations." (Helen Adeosun, Los Angeles)

Choice in Aging Eagerly Anticipates Annual Crab Feed

On the evening of February 29, Choice in Aging will present its 45th Annual Crab Feed, in Walnut Creek. This year featuring a Roaring '20s theme, the fundraiser will include all-you-can-eat fresh Dungeness crab (or a chicken alternative), music, a bar, live and silent auctions, and more. (Debbie Toth, Bay Area)

Cigna & MDLIVE Collaborate on Behavioral Health Virtual Visits

Through a collaboration with MDLIVE, Cigna's 14 million customers enrolled in employer-sponsored plans can now schedule appointments online to see behavioral health counselors or psychiatrists when/where they want, securely, by video or phone. This new service is in addition to Cigna's Behavioral Health network of 18,000+ virtual behavioral health providers. Meanwhile, New York Life will acquire Cigna's group life and disability insurance business for $6.3 billion, the corporations have announced, expected to close in the third quarter of 2020. (Chris De Rosa, Orange County)

CoveredCA Reports on 2020 Enrollment & California's New Law

Covered California reminds Californians that a new state law took effect on January 1, 2020, requiring all Californians to have health insurance or face a penalty. Open enrollment ends on January 31, and there is new financial help available to eligible consumers, including middle-income consumers who previously did not receive any assistance. More information. Meanwhile, as of December 18, CoveredCA announced that there are 230,000+ new plan selections during the current open enrollment period - up approximately 16% over this time last year, with over 1.15 million people renewing their coverage. In addition, 540,000+ people will receive new state subsidies to make coverage more affordable in 2020. Since 2013, California has reduced its uninsured rate by more than any other state in the nation, by expanding Medi-Cal, investing in marketing and outreach, and keeping costs low for consumers. California's individual market consistently ranks among the healthiest in the nation, helping unsubsidized consumers save about $1,550 annually in 2018 on their premiums compared to consumers in the federal marketplace. (Kathy Keeshen, JD, Bay Area)

Excell Home Care CEO Spotlighted in Forbes Leadership Article

Jennifer Ty, CEO of Excell Home Care, is quoted in a recent Forbes article - 11 Must-Read Resources to Help Shape Leadership Style, in which members of Forbes Business Council shared which book or resource has been particularly helpful in shaping their management style. Jennifer's recommendation: "The Ten Faces of Innovation: IDEO's Strategies for Beating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization talks about people, the roles they can play, the hats they can wear and the personas they can adapt. Tom Kelley shows how the organization can bring the human components of innovation to your organization's operational work. It's about developing the personas of your team to maximize its influence." (Jennifer Ty, DNP, Orange County)

Good Samaritan Hospital Joins PIH Health Network

PIH Health recently announced that Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles has officially joined its integrated healthcare network. This addition brings PIH Health to 7,100 full-time employees, three hospitals totaling 1,130 licensed beds, and 26 outpatient clinics. Good Sam is now a subsidiary of PIH Health, with the same relationship status as PIH Health Hospital - Downey, PIH Health Hospital - Whittier, and PIH Health Physicians. PIH Health will invest resources and capital to provide Good Sam with the ability to remain dedicated to the highest quality healthcare in its current location in downtown L.A. Good Sam will be rebranded as PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital. (Andy Leeka, Los Angeles)

Health Coach Institute Delves into Self-Care Topics

Recent blog posts from Health Coach Institute - available here - include: "What Are the Best Mindfulness Activities?;" "HCI Live Dallas 2019 Recap;" "7 Types of Self-Care & Why You Need Them;" "Self-Care Habits for Busy People;" and "How to Create a Vision Board." (Eric Neuner, Bay Area)

Home Safety Services Heralds Senate Aging Committee Report on Falls Prevention

Home Safety Services is calling attention to the Senate Aging Committee's recent report and hearings on falls prevention and proven strategies to protect seniors from injury. "This report presents a broad overview of the impact of falls, including their prevalence, causes, and cost, as well as evidence-based programs that have been shown to effectively reduce and prevent falls," Home Safety Services says. "In addition, it highlights federal and state leadership in falls-prevention, as well as the role of technology and public-private partnerships aimed at reducing fall risk. Finally, the report contains recommendations for governments, private and public organizations, providers, and communities to prevent falls among older adults, and improve fall-related outcomes. (Martin Simenc, Silicon Valley)

HumanGood's So. San Francisco Community Wins 1st Place Affordable Housing Award

Senior Housing News (SHN) has named Rotary Terrace, HumanGood's South San Francisco-based affordable housing community, as the first-place winner of the sixth annual SHN Architecture & Design Awards for affordable housing communities. The awards program recognizes and celebrates companies utilizing cutting-edge design and innovation to improve the lives of seniors. Rotary Terrace was among 100+ communities worldwide vying for the top honors across nine categories. (Tara McGuinness, Bay Area)

Kaiser Permanente Joins Initiative to Deliver Resilience in School Environments

Kaiser Permanente is partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and Discovery Education to address trauma and stress and promote social and emotional wellness at 25,000 schools nationwide. The Resilience in School Environments (RISE) initiative will provide a comprehensive set of resources, at no cost, for school staff, teachers, and districts to address some of the underlying factors of stress in schools and develop strategies and practices that foster more positive school environments - for students and staff. RISE will be offered through a variety of virtual and in-person resources. (Walt Meyers, Bay Area)

King & Spalding Named Among Most Innovative Law Firms in North America

King & Spalding received multiple recognitions from the Financial Times as part of its FT Innovative Lawyers North America Awards 2019, including earning spots on both the Most Innovative Law Firms: Overall list and Most Innovative Law Firms: Legal Expertise list, on which it ranked among the top 10 firms. In addition, the firm received a "Highly Commended" designation in the Managing Complexity and Scale category for its successful defense of a SCANA subsidiary in litigation and investigations, and a "Commended" designation in the Litigation and Disputes category for its win for Galderma in patent litigation. (Marcia Augsburger, JD, Bay Area, & Travis Jackson, JD)

LifeLong Medical Care to Celebrate Annual Gala in March

On the evening of March 7, LifeLong Medical Care will present its Annual Gala, in Berkeley. The evening will include a seated three-course dinner, hosted wine, dessert, dancing and more. (Mike Stacey, MD, Bay Area)

LigoLab Declared a Leading Vendor in Industry Forecast

LigoLab is listed as a leading vendor in a recent ReportLinker report forecasting the global growth of automated solutions for anatomic pathology laboratories. The report said that growing adoption of automated systems in laboratories will lead to the expansion of the global anatomic pathology track and trace solutions market. The report estimated a CAGR of almost 10% during the forecast period of 2020-2024. Several factors were considered, including the lower cost of barcode systems compared to RFID for tracking samples, the rising demand for timely disease diagnosis, and the high frequency of human error in labs that don't employ automated solutions. (Suren Avunjian, Los Angeles)

MayView Clinics to Merge with Ravenswood

MayView Community Health Center, which has provided care for needy patients in Santa Clara County since the 1970s, has reached a deal in which all of its assets, employees, and operations will be transferred to nonprofit Ravenswood Family Health Center by April 2020. Ravenswood is a Federally Qualified Health Center, granting it a line of federal funding to provide health services in underserved areas. To assist in the transition, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a $625,000 contract with MayView for financial support through the end of March. The money will be used as "bridge" funding to allow MayView to continue to provide healthcare services to patients during the "orderly transition of patients and patient care from MayView to Ravenswood," according to a county staff report. (Ken Graham, Silicon Valley)

Mazzetti's Sextant Foundation to Hold "Reimagining the OR" Workshop

On March 26-27, Mazzetti's Sextant Foundation and AORN will hold Reimagining the OR: Pre-op, Intra-op, and Phase 1 & 2 Recovery Workshop, in Anaheim. The program, supported by the Facility Guidelines Institute, uses elements of Human-Centered Design (empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test) and process improvement techniques to reimagine OR spaces. (Walt Vernon, JD, Bay Area)

MedWand Honored in CES 2020 Innovation Awards

MedWand has been named an Honoree in two categories of the CES 2020 Innovation Awards - Health & Wellness and Tech for a Better World. This awards program is an annual competition honoring outstanding design and engineering in consumer technology products, and Honorees are those that score above the threshold set for a specific category. Awards judges are all highly respected experts in their fields and include consumer technology designers, engineers, and members of the media. (Bob Rose, Orange County)

Nelson Hardiman Earns Industry Recognition + Issues "Call to Action" on Opioid Crisis

Nelson Hardiman Partners Harry Nelson and Stacie Neroni were recognized by the Daily Journal as two of 2019's Top Healthcare Lawyers, and the firm was listed to BTI Consulting's Client Service A-Team 2020, noted for its stand-out performance in investing in client relationships and client-facing communication. Meanwhile, Harry recently wrote an article for Forbes - Project Opioid: A Call to Action - in which he discusses ending the opioid crisis via tackling the social crisis within our society. (Harry Nelson, JD, Los Angeles)

RE Pharmacy Opens San Diego Infusion Center

RE Pharmacy recently celebrated the grand opening of RE Pharmacy Infusion Center of San Diego, which provides heated leather massage reclining seats, each of which are accompanied by an ARLO Digital Media Center, featuring a 31" interactive tablet screen with streaming educational content and media. Part of this interactive experience includes a virtual human body which the patient can view, rotate, and zoom into, allowing doctors to explain any particular illnesses to the patient in a 3D context. Patients may also surf the web and stream Netflix. Adjacent to the main infusion area is a private suite, available upon request. (Tom Leffler, Orange County)

Saferide Health Offering Webinars on NEMT for Medicare & Medicaid

Upcoming complimentary webinars from Saferide Health include Stand out from the Medicare Advantage crowd with a technology-forward NEMT benefit, on January 22 at 10 a.m. Pacific, and Stop the Grievances! How to put your NEMT broker for Medicaid to the test, on February 12, at 10 a.m. Pacific. The latter will discuss common problems health plans experience with traditional non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) brokers - from a lack of flexible ride scheduling, to high grievance rates, to areas where fraud, waste and abuse can exist. Saferide will review how you can run a pilot program to see how a technology-forward NEMT broker can relieve such headaches. (Robbins Schrader, Los Angeles)

SAVI Group Addresses Billing Expenses & Satisfied Patients

In Great Ways to Cut Down On Your Practice's Billing Expenses, SAVI Group laments that medical practices spend billions of dollars every year in billing and insurance-related costs, much of it unnecessary. SAVI then offers some tips on how practices can avoid these costs while boosting patient satisfaction and collections. And, in Taking Steps to Satisfy Patients and Grow Your Practice, SAVI Group discusses patient-focused service, practical performance and communication, and customizing care to your patient population. (Sumit Mahendru, Orange County)

Wipfli Provides e-Book on Successful EHR Implementation

In Looking to upgrade your EHR? An implementation partner can be the key to success, Wipfli acknowledges that when a healthcare organization makes the decision to implement or upgrade an EHR, doubt starts creeping in. Will the EHR work in the ways they need it to? Will staff actually use it? Does the organization even have the resources to launch a project of this scale? Wipfli reports that many organizations have found success by partnering with a firm that specializes in EHR implementation and adoption. The firm acts as the client advocate liaison, the project manager and the problem solver, helping to maintain the relationship between the healthcare organization and the EHR vendor throughout the implementation. Wipfli provides this e-book, which focuses on this role and what it helps achieve, as well as what a successful EHR implementation involves. (Jeff Johnson & Steve Rousso, Bay Area; Larry Blitz, Silicon Valley; & Tony Taddey, L.A.)

HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY NEWS & TRENDS
GOVERNMENT & HEALTHCARE
Democrats Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Save the ACA

The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives and 20 Democratic-led states asked the Supreme Court on January 3rd to declare that the landmark Affordable Care Act healthcare law does not violate the U.S. Constitution as lower courts have found in a lawsuit brought by Republican-led states. The House and the states, including California and New York, want the Supreme Court to hear their appeals of a Dec. 18 ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that deemed the 2010 law's "individual mandate" that required people to obtain health insurance unconstitutional. The petitions asked the Supreme Court, which has a 5-4 conservative majority, to hear the case quickly and issue a definitive ruling on the law by the end of June. (Read Article: New York Times, 1/3/20)

Background: On December 18, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the ACA individual mandate is unconstitutional but remanded to the district court to assess whether the rest of the ACA can stand without the individual mandate. Although the decision is only binding in states within the Fifth Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas), it sets the stage for another potential challenge to the ACA before the Supreme Court. (Read: King & Spalding Health Headlines, 12/23/19)

Federal Government Funded; Surprise Billing & Comprehensive Drug Pricing Legislation Postponed

President Trump recently signed into law two bipartisan legislative packages that included all 12 Fiscal Year 2020 funding bills. Comprehensive surprise billing and drug pricing legislation were not included in the year-end appropriations bills. A bipartisan push to curb the practice of surprise medical billing was delayed until next year. A bipartisan bid to rein in prescription drug prices failed to advance. Pharmaceutical firms won extended protections for select patents. And through a flurry of letters and targeted meetings with freshman House Democrats, the healthcare industry ginned up broad support for repealing taxes that were central to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The success shows how formidable the healthcare industry remains, able to overwhelm Democrats with well-honed talking points and splinter Republicans through a concerted push. (Read Article: Washington Post, 12/20/19; Read: King & Spalding Health Headlines, 12/23/19)

New Enrollment Data Shows Relative Stability in Federal Marketplace After 3 Years of Major Declines

New preliminary data from CMS indicates that the federal marketplace saw relatively stable enrollment during the open-enrollment period that closed December 15th, following three years of very significant declines, particularly among new enrollees. Overall, enrollment in the federal marketplace has declined from 9.6 million in 2016 to 8.3 million in 2020, a drop of 14%. In addition, new enrollment has dropped from 4 million in 2016 to 2.1 million in 2020, a decrease of 49%. (Read: Covered California Release, 12/20/19)

PREDICTIONS FOR 2020
"Five Healthcare Fights to Watch in 2020" - The Hill

Here are five healthcare fights to watch in 2020: drug pricing; surprise billing; Obamacare; Medicare for All; and vaping. (Read Article: The Hill, 12/29/19)

What Will 2020 Bring for Medicine and Science?

Stat asked science and healthcare soothsayers for predictions for 2020; their responses cover: >> Results for a broad array of approaches to treating Alzheimer's; >> Tech will change how we get care, but only if companies earn our trust; >> Advances for diseases afflicting the world's poorest citizens; >> Digital health culling will begin in earnest; >> Clinical trial of HIV vaccine will produce vital data; >> FDA will refine how it oversees health tech innovation; >> Increased scrutiny of drug prices in a presidential campaign year; >> Combatting harmful health content online; >> Shift away from narrow disease-focused global health programs; >> Early-stage data for a universal flu vaccine; >> It's not just about opioids anymore; it's about stimulants; >> Pivotal year for CRISPR-based therapies; >> Aiming to reduce worldwide deaths of under-5 children; >> More diagnostic algorithms for consumer devices; >> Reshaping an industry built for scale to one serving smaller groups of patients; and >> Explosion in drugs targeted to patients using biomarkers. (Read Article: Stat, 12/30/19)

BLOCKBUSTER TRENDS
One Medical Files for IPO

One Medical, a San Francisco-based primary care startup with tech-infused, concierge services, has filed for an IPO with the SEC. The startup, valued at well over $1 billion, currently operates 72 health clinics in nine major cities throughout the U.S., with three more markets expected to open in 2020, and has raised $500+ million in venture capital from its biggest investor, the Carlyle Group. Google also incorporates One Medical into its campuses and accounts for about 10% of company revenue, according to the filing. One Medical, which is officially incorporated as 1Life Healthcare Inc. ONEM, now plans to raise about $100 million. (Read Article: TechCrunch, 1/3/20)

HOSPITAL NEWS
LA's St. Vincent Med Center to Close; 3 Other Verity Hospitals Remain Open

Verity Health System, filed a motion on Monday, seeking court authority to proceed with the closure of St. Vincent Medical Center, in Downtown Los Angeles. Established in 1856, by the Daughters of Charity of Sr. Vincent de Paul, the hospital, located at Third and Alvarado, was the first built in the City of the Angels. The closure follows KPC Group's default under a binding purchase agreement to acquire St. Vincent, St. Francis Medical Center, Seton Medical Center, and Seton Coastside; Verity filed a lawsuit against the KPC Group and its affiliates on January 3rd. Arrangements have been made to transfer patient and specialty service, including St. Vincent's transplant program, to nearby facilities. Once court authority to proceed is granted, ambulance services will be diverted to nearby Emergency Departments, including those at the eight hospitals located within a three-mile radius of St. Vincent, including PIH-Good Samaritan Hospital. (Read Article: AP News, 1/6/20)

Sutter to Pay $575 Million in Antitrust Settlement

In the latest development of a years-long antitrust case against Sutter Health, Northern California's largest healthcare system, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that Sutter is required to pay $575 million to employers, unions and the government. Becerra sued Sutter in 2018, alleging that the system - which operates 24 hospitals and 35 outpatient clinics in Northern California - abused its market power to raise prices, harming its subscribers. The case was combined with a similar lawsuit filed in 2014 by the United Food and Commercial Workers and Employers Benefit Trust, a union trust that pays for its workers' insurance. That was classified as a class-action suit on behalf of 1,500 self-insured employers and trusts in California. The two cases were combined for purposes of a trial. Sutter has agreed to cap out-of-network costs, increase transparency, and stop all-or-nothing contract deals (requiring health insurers to contract with all of a system's hospitals and affiliates). Sutter will also halt measures to prevent access to lower-cost plans, Becerra said. Larry Levitt, executive VP for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the settlement is "a huge deal" that could lead to changes at other health systems nationwide. Levitt said the elimination of all-or-nothing contracts is particularly important. Healthcare services cost 30% more in Northern than in Southern California, and policy experts say the disparity is in part because hospitals in NorCal have consolidated more - giving them more leverage to negotiate prices with insurers. (Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle, 12/20/19)

Quality of Care at Hospitals Acquired During Recent Wave of Dealmaking Got Worse or Stayed the Same: Research

The quality of care at hospitals acquired during a recent wave of deal making got worse or stayed the same, new research found, a blow to a frequently cited rationale for tie-ups. The new research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked for evidence of quality gains using four widely used measures of performance at nearly 250 hospitals acquired in deals between 2009 and 2013. The analysis didn't find it, said the study's authors. The study is one of the first large-scale efforts to examine whether hospital combinations deliver benefits to offset higher prices associated with the sector's consolidation, said health-policy experts not involved in the research. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 1/1/20)

BREAKTHROUGHS & FINDINGS
Xilis: Cultivating Micro-tumors May Hold Key to More Effective Cancer Treatments

Despite near-miraculous advances in the treatment of cancer in the U.S. and around the world, the disease remains the second leading cause of death in America. The problem is that every manifestation of the disease is unique to the patient that is afflicted by it, because everyone's body is actually different. Most cancer treatments are determined by their ability to cure the largest population afflicted with a particular cancer type. As understanding of the disease has advanced, more targeted treatments are coming to market to treat particular types of the disease. And now, Xilis has developed a process that its founders hope will make those treatments even more effective. Advancing a technique for growing small versions of human organs for research, Xilis has developed a process that can cultivate and sustain tumors from a cancer patient - allowing physicians and pharmaceutical companies to develop even more tailored treatments. (Read Article: TechCrunch, 12/19/19)

While Designer Drugs Will Likely Be Super Expensive, Drugmakers Are Also Turning to Data Mining to Avoid Expensive, Lengthy Drug Trials

Drugmakers are trying to win drug approvals by parsing vast data sets of electronic medical records, shifting away from lengthy, and costly, clinical trials in patients. Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and Amgen Inc. are among the drugmakers that have submitted the data-mining analyses to the FDA in seeking approval to sell new medicines or for new uses for older ones. The FDA has approved new uses for breast cancer, bladder cancer, and leukemia drugs in part based on the data. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 12/23/19)

AI Is Already Making an Impact in Women's Health

A Google AI system proved as good as expert radiologists at detecting which women had breast cancer based on screening mammograms and showed promise at reducing errors, researchers in the U.S. and Britain reported. (Read Article: New York Times/Reuters, 1/1/20)

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