ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * July 7, 2020

>>> Kim Darling is Founder, President and CEO of Competitive Health, Inc., which maintains direct agreements with leading digital health solutions, telehealth companies, retail clinics, and PPO networks to provide unlimited access and unprecedented savings to its clients and members - employer groups, insurance carriers, TPAs, affinity groups, and exchanges. Competitive Health provides savings solutions for doctor visits, hospital procedures, retail clinics, telehealth, behavioral health, dental, maternity, chronic care, senior programs, and more. It also provides wholesale access to programs that are proven to manage diabetes, depression, and pregnancy. Kim has led Competitive Health since 1996 and also founded WellCard Savings, in 2010, a leading free healthcare savings program. Previously, Kim was Co-Founder of Rete+Pay, worked in National Accounts for First Health/First Data, and in Regional Sales for Humana. Kim has joined the ABL-Health OC Round Table.

>>> Jiang Li, Ph.D., is Founder and CEO of VivaLNK, Inc., a provider of connected healthcare solutions for patient care and telemedicine, whose portfolio includes wearable medical grade devices and data analytics applications that continuously monitor the health and well-being of individuals. At the core of its family of products is VivaLNK's eSkin, a first-of-its-kind breathable thin film substrate with integrated circuits and sensors designed for long-term wearable use. Today, VivaLNK has 70+ commercial partners, its multi-vital sensor has received the CE Mark, and its ECG platform has received FDA clearance. Prior to launching VivaLNK in 2014, Jiang was VP of Engineering at Thin Film Electronics, and earlier at Kovio. Still earlier, he was VP of Product Engineering at Spansion, and Director of Product Engineering at Advanced Micro Devices. Returning to ABL, Jiang has re-joined the ABL-Health SV Round Table.

>>> Cynthia Sampson is COO of Life Adjustment Team (LAT), which provides Joint Commission-accredited intensive psychiatric outreach rehabilitation services to assist patients to function successfully in the community through its case management program, as well as Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Programs for individuals living with a mental health diagnosis and/or struggling with an addiction. LAT's professional team implements evidence-based psychosocial rehab programs on a one-to-one basis, in the home, at its centers, and during goal-oriented outings in the community - an approach that has reduced or eliminated the need for repeated hospitalizations and has helped many patients achieve a satisfying level of successful independent living. While a student at Cal State Northridge, Cynthia was recruited, in 1993, to help build the administrative infrastructure for LAT from the ground up. Cynthia has joined the ABL-Health LA Round Table.

>>> Marcos Vasconcelos is Executive Director, Strategic Market Planning & Execution at Kaiser Permanente, where he is responsible for leading cross-functional teams in developing pricing and market strategy recommendations for senior leaders. His accountabilities include leading the California and National rate setting processes, as well as the National Medicare, Medicaid, Channel and Strategic Projects market strategy teams. Marcos also co-leads important Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work for Kaiser Permanente's health plan. Prior to joining Kaiser in 2007, he earned an MBA from the London Business School and a BA from UCLA, and previously worked at Insight Imaging and Novartis Vaccines. Marcos has joined the ABL-Health OAK Round Table.

    These upcoming ABL Round Tables will be held via ZOOM to ensure Social Distancing for our Members. See your Round Table invitation for participation instructions, and the ABL.org Members Only website for all the Healthcare Round Table invitation specifics.

  • 7/08 - ABL-Health SF Zoom Table
  • 7/14 - ABL-Health SV Zoom Table
  • 7/16 - ABL-Health OAK Zoom Table
  • 7/17 - ABL-Health LA Zoom Table
  • 8/05 - ABL-Health OC Zoom Table
  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>

Breakthroughs with the other C-word

by Mimi Grant

Particularly because California and the Bay Area each reported nearly 75% increases in daily cases of COVID-19 in June compared to May, virtually any other healthcare story has been blown off the pages of medical news. Yet, while we've been busy sheltering at home, a major medical breakthrough has been quietly brewing in Menlo Park that has the potential to detect another potentially fatal disease before it's too late: CANCER.


[Photo Credit: San Diego Business Journal]

Click on Headlines to Read Articles
Alvaka Networks Urges Companies to Prioritize Network Security

In Is Cyber Insurance Unintentionally Increasing Ransomware Attacks?, Alvaka Networks discusses a statement by the FBI regarding ransomware, in which they express their "discourag[ment] [towards] payments of cyber ransoms, arguing that it could encourage this criminal business model." Alvaka counters that "having your business equipped with sufficient protective measures is the best method to halt the development of more cybercriminals. Cyber insurance is valuable ... [but] business owners should place greater emphasis on strengthening network security and attaining adequate IT knowledge. A safer network reduces the probability of a breach, and not having a network compromise means your insurance will not have to pay a ransom. As a result, the cyber insurance you have purchased would not be producing an unintentional growth effect on the ransomware criminal business model." (Oli Thordarson, OC)

Anthem Blue Cross Deploys Digital Kiosks to Provide Interpretation & Telehealth Services

Anthem Blue Cross has recently deployed 200+ digital solutions kiosks inside 80 health centers across California to provide real-time video interpretation services and access to telehealth. The kiosks include Wi-Fi enabled tablets that allow treating clinicians to engage certified interpreters without having to pre-schedule in-person interpreter appointments or wait with third-party call centers. 240+ languages are accessible. The tablets can also be used to provide comprehensive, whole person care by enabling access to medical specialists via telehealth and information about free community resources to address non-medical needs. Anthem plans to install hundreds more across California. (David Pryor, MD, LA)

Bayer Supports Reproductive Health Initiative for Women in Urban Poverty Areas

With a $10 million contribution, Bayer has announced its support of "The Challenge Initiative" (TCI), which provides women and girls living in urban poverty in cities in Africa and Asia with family planning and reproductive health solutions. TCI is led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute on Population and Reproductive Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School. By 2030, Bayer aims to provide 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to modern contraception. (Rama Penta, SV)

CareAcademy & NVISNx Chosen for Launch With GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort

CareAcademy, where Helen Adeosun is CEO, and NVISNx, where Glen Day is CEO, are among the 14 companies selected by The Goldman Sachs Group to participate in the first Launch With GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort. The eight-week virtual experience will provide high-touch access and resources to a select group of U.S.-based Black and Latinx founders to fast-track their companies' growth and build relationships with investors and industry experts. The Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort is a part of Launch With GS, Goldman Sachs' $500 million investment strategy grounded in the belief that diverse teams drive strong returns. The participating companies were chosen from over 400 applicants across 37 states.

Meanwhile, CareAcademy recently closed an oversubscribed $9.5 million in Series A funding led by the Impact America Fund. The funding will power the growth of the company's platform to demonstrate healthcare outcomes, expand markets, and drive its mission to create 1 million healthcare workers by 2023. Investors include Impact America Fund, Rethink Impact, Wanxiang Healthcare Investment, Steve Case's Revolution Rise of the Rest Fund, Techstars Ventures, Rethink Education, Jewel Burks-Solomon, and ECMC. (Helen Adeosun, LA; Glen Day, ABL-Tech WLA)

Cigna + Oscar Debut Affordable Health Insurance for Small Businesses

Cigna and Oscar have announced that Cigna + Oscar, a new affordable and consumer-first health insurance for small businesses, will be available in the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, and across Tennessee, effective Q4 2020, pending regulatory approvals. Covered employees will have access to free 24/7 virtual doctor visits, low-cost prescription coverage, behavioral health support, and access to multiple Cigna networks of quality physicians, specialists, and hospitals. A Cigna + Oscar survey of 1,000+ small business decision makers finds that 88% say the health and well-being of employees is a primary concern following the COVID-19 pandemic, and 50+% of small businesses are considering or unsure about changing their health insurer heading into 2021. (Chris De Rosa, OC)

Covered California Extends Special-Enrollment Deadline During Pandemic

Covered California has extended the special-enrollment deadline through the end of July, giving consumers more time to sign up for healthcare coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent data shows that 175,030 people have signed up for coverage between March 20 and June 20, which is more than twice the number who signed up during the same time last year. Overall, 242,600 people have signed up for coverage since Jan. 31, when Covered California ended its open-enrollment period, through June 20, which is nearly twice as many as seen during the same time period last year.

Also, California has suspended Medi-Cal renewal reviews through the end of the public health emergency, ensuring that those already enrolled can continue their coverage and freeing up resources to quickly process new enrollments. The Department of Health Care Services received expanded authority to expedite enrollment for seniors and other vulnerable populations, expand the use of telehealth, and take other steps to make it easier to access care. (Kathy Keeshen, JD, SF)

Elemeno Health CEO Interviewed in Industry Journal

Arup Roy-Burman, CEO of Elemeno Health, is spotlighted in a recent Republic Journal interview. Topics discussed include: Arup's inspiration for founding Elemeno Health; his process for launching the company; the #1 skill entrepreneurs need to succeed; biggest challenges; favorite apps and tech devices; his vision for the future of healthcare; and more. (Arup Roy-Burman, MD, OAK)

Elevate Addiction Services Launches Podcast

Elevate Addiction Services has launched a podcast, featuring conversations with its team members about their roles in the addiction industry and more. In the first episode, CEO Dan Manson and others discuss Elevate's four-phase program, curriculum, fitness regimen, and more. To listen to the episodes, search for Elevate Addiction Services on your preferred podcasting platform. (Dan Manson, SV)

Excell Home Care Earns "5 Stars - Top Home Health Agency" from Medicare.gov

Excell Home Care has been named by Medicare.gov as a 2020 Top Home Health Agency in California - 5 Star Rated. The company's other awards include being named among Top Home Care Providers and Most Successful Home Care Providers, both from abilitynetwork.com. (Jennifer Ty, OC)

HumanGood Brand Launches in Philadelphia

In June 2019, Presby's Inspired Life, in the Philadelphia area, affiliated with HumanGood, a nonprofit senior living organization headquartered in Pleasanton, California. And now, a year later, as part of the continued affiliation plan, four Presby life plan communities and 36 affordable housing communities have officially adopted the HumanGood logo and branding assets. The affiliated organization has become the sixth-largest national nonprofit senior living provider. (Tara McGuinness, OAK)

King & Spalding Webinar to Address Return-to-Work for Non-Essential Employees & Resumption of Elective Procedures

On July 10, from 10-11 a.m. Pacific, King & Spalding (K&S) will present a webinar - Managing Provider Risk: Return-to-Work for Non-Essential Employees and the Resumption of Elective Procedures.

And, K&S recently published a Client Alert - New Flexibilities Enacted in Paycheck Protection Program. Meanwhile, the Legal 500 United States 2020 guide has recognized K&S with 49 practice rankings, including 10 Tier-1 rankings, and the Intellectual Asset Management Patent 1000 guide has recommended several K&S IP practices and lawyers. (Marcia Augsburger, JD, SF; Travis Jackson, JD)

KMD Architects Designs New CCU for Seattle Hospital & New Women's Hospital in Korea

KMD Architects is the architect and interior designer on a redesigned critical care unit (CCU) for EvergreenHealth Medical Center, of Washington state, the first U.S. hospital to report a COVID-19 fatality, and which subsequently received patients with the virus from Life Care Center of Kirkland assisted-living facility. The redesign allows EvergreenHealth to convert 16 traditional patient rooms in the CCU to negative pressure rooms when needed, and adds two new exhaust fans, rather than using the hospital's existing system, so Evergreen can make more rooms elsewhere in the hospital negative pressure if needed.

Meanwhile, KMD played a leading role in designing the largest general hospital for women in Korea, CHA Ilsan Women's & Children's Hospital, which recently celebrated its opening. (Rob Matthew, SF)

LifeLong Medical Care's Mike Stacey Proclaimed a "Health Care Hero"

The Berkeley Times newspaper recently featured LifeLong Medical Care's Mike Stacey, MD as a "Health Care Hero," declaring him "the voice of now." An excerpt: "Due to the pandemic, lots of changes are being implemented just now. For Dr. Stacey, that means not losing the big picture while helping his team manage through mountains of minutia. To help with this process, he has led "All Staff Calls" on Zoom every Monday. Typically, 250-300 LifeLong employees participate in the call. That's how his voice has become so recognizable." (Mike Stacey, MD, OAK)

LigoLab's TestDirectly Teams with Northwest Laboratory to Test Florida's LTC Residents for COVID-19

TestDirectly, the direct-to-consumer web portal that connects patients, companies, collection centers, laboratories, and physicians for fast, safe, and easy testing, has partnered with Northwest Laboratory and the Florida Department of Health to collect and test the state of Florida's 500,000 long-term-care residents and staff for COVID-19. TestDirectly was created by LigoLab Information System to give consumers a direct link to labs for COVID-19 testing. In May, the White House called on every state to quickly test all of its LTC residents and employees for the virus. "The very next day we were approached by Florida's Department of Health," said LigoLab CEO Suren Avunjian. "Their objective was to be the first state to complete the challenge set by the administration, even though they have one of the highest senior populations in the country. Within a week we had the TestDirectly platform up and running, ready to test a half-million residents and employees across 4,000 facilities and 67 counties." (Suren Avunjian, LA)

Mazzetti CEO Seeks Input on Use of Microgrids as Emergency Source for Healthcare Facilities

In Microgrids: Help Wanted, Mazzetti CEO Walt Vernon shares that NFPA 99 recently adopted language that will permit the use of a microgrid as the emergency source for healthcare buildings, in lieu of a diesel generator. "I am now considering language to propose to move this concept into NFPA 70 and NFPA 110," Walt writes. "To help me think through this issue, I am considering convening a Zoom call to brainstorm and think about how this might work. I am interested to know if anybody out there would be interested in this kind of collaborative conversation. We can create a vision and submit it NFPA and, in so doing, hopefully help our healthcare system. Let me know what you think!"

And, in Maintaining crucial power: Fuel cells and microgrids help bolster hospital resiliency, an article in the June 2020 issue of Health Facilities Management magazine, Walt, along with Mazzetti's Anjali Wale, and Angelica Chow, share insights on mitigating the significant threats that severe weather can pose to healthcare facilities. (Walt Vernon, JD, SF)

MedWand Turns Smartphone into a Digital Clinic

MedWand Solutions has announced that its clinical-grade telemedicine device has expanded its capabilities to mobile phones and is expected to be available for consumer purchase in late 2020. Empowering patients to receive physical exams on their phone during virtual visits from their doctors, MedWand also allows physicians to use their own smartphone device to securely examine a MedWand patient anywhere at any time. When used by a patient, the MedWand can allow clinicians to listen to heart and lungs, obtain basic vitals, look into a patient's ears, nose, and throat, obtain an EKG, and more. All of this information gets sent in real time to a clinician who watches, listens, and interacts through a secure video portal on their computer, and starting this fall, on their smartphone. (Bob Rose, OC)

Nelson Hardiman Webinars to Address Legal Issues in Behavioral Health & Addiction Treatment

On July 9, from 10-11 a.m., Nelson Hardiman's Harry Nelson will present a webinar - The New Normal: Avoiding Trouble in Addiction Treatment and Behavioral Health Marketing - which will focus on new laws and regulations emerging to challenge marketing practices regarded as problematic in addiction treatment and behavioral health, and more.

on August 2, from 9-10 a.m., Nelson Hardiman and Harry will present Navigating the Reimbursement Minefield: Strategies, Trends and Tips In Provider-Payor Conflict, a webinar which will describe the leading trends and perspectives shaping the transformation of behavioral health and addiction treatment reimbursement, principal challenges and risk issues, and more. (Harry Nelson, JD, LA)

PSYCHeANALYTICS' Dave Haddick Shares Tribute to Dr. Nicholas A. Cummings

Dave Haddick, CEO of PSYCHeANALYTICS, has shared this memorial to Dr. Nicholas A. Cummings, Ph.D., Sc.D., who passed away recently, and who Dave describes as a "pioneer in many ways, but most important was his contribution to integrated behavioral healthcare." Senior leaders from PSYCHeANALYTICS serve on the advisory board of the Cummings Graduate Institute for Behavioral Health Studies, and two of the team worked as researchers under Dr. Cummings at Kaiser in the 1970s. Dave also included the link to an article he particularly enjoyed that Dr. Cummings wrote in 1994 for Managed Care Quarterly - The successful application of medical offset in program planning and in clinical delivery. (Dave Haddick, OC)

Savi Group Describes How Medical Practices are Adapting to COVID-19

In How Medical Practices are Adapting to COVID-19, Savi Group outlines a variety of initiatives and protocols that different providers have put in place. Read other recent Savi Group blog posts here, including: "How Reducing Patient Wait Times Leads to Success"; "Medical Billing and Coding Tips from the Experts"; "How to Prepare Your Medical Practice for COVID-19 Outbreaks"; and "The Rise of Telemedicine During a Global Pandemic." (Sumit Mahendru, OC)

Servicon Systems Leaders Earn Global Biorisk Advisory Council Fundamentals Certification

Stacey Wong of Servicon Systems, Inc. recently earned a Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Fundamentals Certification, with an emphasis on SARS-CoV-2/COVID. GBAC is part of ISSA, a leading trade association for the cleaning industry worldwide, and provides training to Servicon operation managers to keep them up to date on the latest science, CDC recommendations and safety protocols to guide clients through this pandemic and more. Meanwhile, Stacey has provided a glossary of cleaning and disinfecting terms that will help everyone get aligned on infection prevention needs for facilities. And, she shares this article from WebMD: Germiest Places in Your Office. (Stacey Wong, LA)

SimpleTherapy Chosen for Welltok's Connect Partner Ecosystem, for Musculoskeletal Disorders

SimpleTherapy has been selected to join Welltok's Connect Partner Ecosystem, in which employer, health plan, and health system clients can conveniently select from a curated list of 50+ programs and resources that cover the full spectrum of total wellbeing. SimpleTherapy is one of three partners addressing musculoskeletal care. Musculoskeletal disorders are the most common cause of job-related disability, and a leading contributor to absenteeism due to lower back pain. (Arpit Khemka, SV)

VivaLNK's Wearable Temperature Sensor Selected by Current Health

Current Health has chosen VivaLNK's continuous temperature sensor for its AI-powered remote patient monitoring (RPM) solution designed to reduce hospital overcrowding and readmissions. Instead of relying on the patient to manually measure and report temperature multiple times per day, the medical grade VivaLNK continuous temperature sensor does this automatically by sending patient temperature to the Current Health system on a continuous basis even while the patient is asleep. This stream of data can present a more accurate picture and trend on the condition of the patient. (Jiang Li, Ph.D., SV)

Wipfli Helps Rural Hospital Manage COVID Patients + Wins Honors

Wipfli recently worked with Mountains Community Hospital, which has less than 40 beds serving Southern California's Lake Arrowhead region, to deal with the pandemic. When area residents began to experience COVID-19 symptoms, the hospital worried about infected patients spreading the disease to medical staff or to the hospital's vulnerable long-term-care patients. Mountains Community turned to Wipfli, which worked with hospital management to lease and deploy four mobile trailers to help protect healthcare providers and patients - one designated for intake; two equipped with beds and oxygen for patient care; and one for sleeping quarters for overworked doctors and nurses.

Also, Wipfli published How to use the 340B program to aid in financial recovery efforts, which delves into the drug prescription program that provides much-needed revenue to qualified healthcare entities. Meanwhile, Wipfli has been named to the Bob Scott's Top 100 VARs list, chosen from organizations specializing in the sale and implementation of enterprise resource planning and accounting software. And, Wipfli has been named a Preferred Power Apps Advanced Partner by Microsoft. Power Apps is a platform that lets organizations quickly build low-code apps that address their specific business challenges. (Jeff Johnson, OAK, & Steve Rousso)

PeopleG2's Webinar to Describe How to Build Inclusive Workplaces

On July 15, from 11 a.m. to noon, PeopleG2's Chris Dyer will co-present a webinar - What Now? Building our Ally Muscle for Inclusive Workplaces - which will share what organizations can do to create an inclusive workplace where everyone is welcomed, valued, respected, and heard. The webinar will explore best practices for creating a diversity and inclusion program that actually works, from ongoing hiring practices, to leveling the playing field when it comes to promotions, to maintaining a workforce that is a reflection of your community. (Chris Dyer, ABL-Tech SGV)

Eckert & Ziegler Gets $6 Million From NIH for Radiation Protection Pill

MYELO Therapeutics, an affiliated company of Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG, will receive $6 million from the National Institutes of Health over the next three years for the further development of its radiation protection pill, MYELO001. The money will be used to finance further tests and proof of concept and to investigate the functional mechanism of the new orally applicable drug. If the multi-year trials are successful, MYELO has the opportunity to win valuable contracts from civil protection agencies in America and elsewhere to build up emergency stocks. (Frank Yeager, ABL-Tech SGV)

Number of New Coronavirus Cases Exploded in California Last Week

Of all the new cases in California on July 3, 65% were people between the ages of 18 and 49. That was more than three times the rate of the second-highest group, ages 50 to 64, which made up 17% of the new cases, while so far people age 65+ made up 78% of the COVID-19 deaths in California. The sharp increase in new cases started after the reopening in the past month of restaurants, bars, salons, and gyms, and a general relaxation of sheltering-in-place and social-distancing protocols. Large Black Lives Matter demonstrations, prompted by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, probably spread the disease too, health officials said.

California and the Bay Area each reported nearly 75% increases in daily cases in June compared to May. In Orange County, the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests jumped to 14% on July 6, with an average of 12% of those tested in the past week testing positive, according to the Orange County Business Journal. The number of cases has also been rising in 37 other states, prompting Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to warn last Thursday that the U.S. is in danger of losing control of the epidemic. (Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle, 7/4/20)

Black & Latino People 3 Times More Likely to Contract COVID-19 Than White People; Twice as Likely to Die

Black and Latino people are three times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white people, according to CMS data The New York Times sued to obtain. They are also more than twice as likely to die from the virus. The data covers 640,000 infections from nearly 1,000 U.S. counties through May. The Times noted the federal data is still incomplete, with more than half of cases missing race or ethnicity information. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 7/6/20)

Young Adults in Alabama Throwing COVID-19 Parties with Payout for First Person Infected

Some young adults in Tuscaloosa, Ala., are throwing parties where people with COVID-19 attend and the first person to get infected receives a payout, CNN reports. Infected people are urged to attend the parties so others can intentionally contract the virus, City Council member Sonya McKinstry said, adding that physicians' offices and the state have confirmed this information. The city is working to break up such parties and also passed a mask ordinance that goes into effect next week. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 7/2/20)

In Wake of COVID, CMS Calls for Renewed Commitment to Value-Based Medicare

CMS has called for a renewed national commitment to value-based care based on Medicare claims data that provides an early snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Medicare population. The data shows that older Americans and those with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk for COVID-19 and confirms long-understood disparities in health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority groups and among low-income populations. The transition to a value-based system has never been so urgent, CMS says.

The new data show that 325,000+ Medicare beneficiaries had a diagnosis of COVID-19, and 110,000 were hospitalized for it, between January 1 and May 16, 2020. This translates to 518 COVID-19 cases and 175 hospitalizations per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Blacks were hospitalized with COVID-19 at a rate nearly four times higher than whites. The disparities presented in the snapshot go beyond race/ethnicity and suggest the impact of social determinants of health, particularly socio-economic status.

Other key data points regarding hardest-hit patients, including those on dialysis:
> End-stage renal disease patients had the highest rate of hospitalization among all Medicare beneficiaries, with 1,341 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries. Patients with ESRD are also more likely to have chronic comorbidities associated with increased COVID-19 complications and hospitalization, such as diabetes and heart failure.
> The second highest rate was among beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligible), with 473/100,000.
> Among racial/ethnic groups, Blacks had the highest hospitalization rate, with 465/100,000. Hispanics had 258/100,000. Asians had 187/100,000 and whites had 123/100,000.
> Beneficiaries living in rural areas have fewer cases and were hospitalized at a lower rate than those living in urban/suburban areas (57/100,000 vs. 205/100,000). (Read CMS Release, 6/22/20)

National Mask Mandate Could Save 5% of GDP, Economists Say

An analysis by Goldman Sachs found that implementing a nationwide face mask order "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," The Washington Post reports. The authors estimated that a national face mask mandate could slow the daily growth rate of new coronavirus infections, from around 1.6% to 0.6%. To slow the virus growth rate by a similar amount using an economic shutdown, you would have to deduct 5% from GDP. (Read Article: Washington Post, 6/30/20)

Insurers Are Off the Hook for Back-to-Work COVID-19 Tests, Per HHS

Insurers are not required to cover COVID-19 tests that employers may mandate as they bring employees back to work, according to guidance released in late June by the Trump administration. Insurers had been waiting for clarity from the administration on whether they would be on the hook for potentially repeated COVID-19 screening tests as states relax social distancing restrictions and employees return to work. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act required insurers to cover COVID-19 tests without patient cost-sharing, but this HHS guidance clarified that the law only applies to tests that are deemed "medically appropriate" by a healthcare provider. (Read Article: Modern Healthcare, 6/23/20)

Kaiser Returns $500 Million in CARES Act Payments

Kaiser Permanente reported a $1.1 billion net loss in the first quarter, but the Oakland-based health system's finances are expected to bounce back, Chair and CEO Greg Adams told the San Francisco Business Times. Like other health systems across the U.S., Kaiser experienced a drop in revenue after suspending elective procedures to save supplies and capacity for COVID-19 patients. Despite the financial damage from the pandemic, Kaiser ended the first quarter of this year with operating income of $1.3 billion, down from $1.5 billion a year earlier. The health system's $1.1 billion net loss in the first quarter was primarily driven by investment losses totaling $2.4 billion. Though Kaiser took a hit in the first quarter, it is not in a dire financial situation. "We looked at our financial plan and we will be off budget for the year, but we will do fine," Mr. Adams said. Kaiser, a nonprofit system, has returned more than $500 million in grants it received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Mr. Adams said. The funds are meant to cover lost revenue and increased expenses tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 6/8/20)

Humana Works with Labs, Walmart to Boost COVID Testing

National health insurer Humana said it is making it easier for its members to get tested for COVID-19 at home or via drive-thru pharmacies. The company said it will pay for certain plan members to access LabCorp. at-home COVID-19 tests. It is also partnering with Walmart and Quest Diagnostics to offer testing at Walmart drive-thru pharmacies across the country. Humana said it will continue to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests and treatment. (Read Article: Modern Healthcare, 6/30/20)

California Travelers Included Among Those From 16 States to Be Quarantined in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that travelers from eight more states quarantine for 14 days, bringing the total number of states included in the quarantine order to 16, according to CNBC. The eight new states are California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee. Previously, the order only extended to people traveling from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas. (Read Article: CNBC, 6/30/20)

Hospitals Will Take $320 Billion Hit This Year, AHA Says

Hospitals and health systems will lose over $320 billion in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an American Hospital Association report. More than $200 billion in financial losses occurred from March to June. But the AHA expects hospitals to lose another $120 billion - about $20 billion per month - through year-end, mostly driven by lower patient volumes. The report probably underestimates 2020's total financial losses because "the analysis does not account for currently increasing case rates in certain states or potential subsequent surges of the pandemic occurring later this year," the AHA said in a statement. (Read Article: Modern Healthcare, 6/30/20)

Nationally, 42 Hospitals Have Closed or Filed for Bankruptcy This Year

From reimbursement landscape challenges to dwindling patient volumes, many factors lead hospitals to shut down or file for bankruptcy. At least 42 hospitals across the U.S. have closed or entered bankruptcy this year, and the financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may force more hospitals to do the same in coming months. They're estimated to lose $200 billion between March 1 and June 30, according to a report from the American Hospital Association. More than $161 billion of the expected revenue losses will come from canceled services, including nonelective surgeries and outpatient treatment. Moody's Investors Service said the sharp declines in revenue and cash flow caused by the suspension of elective procedures could cause more hospitals to default on their credit agreements this year than in 2019.

Most of the hospital closures have been on the East Coast or in the Midwest - including Mayo Clinic Health System - Springfield (Minn.), which closed on March 1. In California, the only hospital to close so far this year has been St. Vincent Medical Center (Los Angeles), which closed in January, roughly three weeks after El Segundo-based Verity Health announced plans to shut down the 366-bed hospital. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 6/22/20)

Muni Expects to Lose Majority of Its Bus Lines Permanently as Financial Devastation Mounts

Up to 40 of the bus lines that San Francisco Muni cut at the beginning of the pandemic are not coming back unless the city finds a new revenue spigot, transportation chief Jeffrey Tumlin said last week. (Read Article: San Francisco Chronicle, 7/3/20)

Cancer Screening Leaps Forward: New DNA Test Detects More Illnesses, Earlier

Menlo Park, CA-based Grail is detecting the signature of actual cancer cells in your blood. According to validation data published in the Annals of Oncology, the test can find 50 different types, more than half of all known cancers. And it can find cancer well before symptoms show up, in Stage I or sooner, when therapies are cheap and effective. If Grail can scale, it will be a massive game-changer. Five-year survival rates can approach 9 in 10 if cancer is detected early, compared with about 1 in 5 in Stage IV. (Read Article: Wall Street Journal, 7/5/20)

3-in-1 Solution: Body Temperature + Mask Detection + Face Recognition System

Jason Ciment, CEO of GetVisible, shares that his new client - Digital Gatekeeper - is distributing a 3-in-1 premises-based safety solution: a robust and reliable body temperature, mask detection and face recognition system, designed to make physical locations safer for employees and guests alike. The system scans every face that walks by in less than 2/10 of a second. The Digital Gatekeeper is ideal for offices, medical offices, schools, hotels, retail stores, malls, banks, airports, bus and train stations, etc.

Pandemic Spurs Flood of Venture Capital Funding to Healthcare Startups; FCC Commits $198M; But Some Insurers Are Now Cutting Telehealth Coverage

Venture capital funding in healthcare intensified in the first half of 2020 as COVID-19 made virtual care and similar technologies indispensable. Startups focused on telehealth, mental health, wearables and even transportation have gained new relevance during the pandemic. Companies that convinced investors of their long-term staying power even after the crisis subsides gained particular traction when it came to raising capital. Global venture capital funding for digital health and health innovation totaled $9.1 billion in the first half of the year, up from $7.7 billion during the same period in 2019, according to a second-quarter report from StartUp Health released last week. And 2019 was itself a banner year for startup funding. (Read Article: Modern Healthcare, 7/1/20)

MEANWHILE, the FCC has made an additional $197.98 million in funding available for its Rural Health Care Program, which helps rural healthcare providers purchase broadband and telecommunications services. FCC officials in recent weeks have stressed the agency's commitment to supporting telemedicine access amid the coronavirus pandemic, which many have credited with spurring rapid telemedicine growth as hospitals ramped up their use of the practice to let patients receive care at home. (Read Article: Modern Healthcare, 6/30/20)

HOWEVER, after changing policies to cover telehealth more broadly during the pandemic, some insurers are scaling it back even as COVID-19 cases surge in some states. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, where cases have soared in the past week, said in the last two weeks that its expiration date for expanded telehealth coverage is Aug. 31. Other insurers plan to reduce telehealth coverage for virtual visits in September, according to the report. Aetna began charging patients co-payments and cost-sharing for telehealth on June 4, and Cigna said it will end expanded telehealth coverage July 31. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 7/6/20)

CMS Proposes Payment Changes to Support Innovation & Increased Access for Dialysis in Home Setting

CMS has announced proposed changes to the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Prospective Payment System (PPS). Building on President Trump's Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health, CMS is proposing that certain new and innovative equipment and supplies used for dialysis treatment of patients with ESRD in the home would qualify for an additional Medicare payment. These proposed changes would encourage the development of home dialysis machines that would give beneficiaries more dialysis treatment options in the home that can improve their quality of life. (Read CMS Release, 7/6/20)

$1 Million in Bonuses Donated to Dominican Hospital Employees

Employees at Dignity Health Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Calif., will receive $1 million in COVID-19 bonuses from an anonymous local donor, the hospital announced recently. The donation from a Santa Cruz County resident and longtime hospital supporter came through the hospital's foundation and will be given to hospital employees in recognition of their efforts during the pandemic. (Read Article: Becker's Hospital Review, 5/4/20)

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