ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * March 1, 2022
  • 3/02 - Orange County ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Silver Linings That Sprung from Cloudy Skies" - Featured Member Presenter: Sumit Mahendru, Managing Director of SAVI Group

  • 3/08 - Silicon Valley ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Safeguarding the Healthcare Safety Net" - Featured Member Presenter: Ken Graham, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of RotaCare Free Clinics

  • 3/09 - San Francisco ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Meet John Gorman & Nightingale Partners: Experts Investing in Health Equity" - Featured Guest Presenter: John Gorman, founder of Nightingale Partners

  • 3/17 - Oakland ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Meet Drs. Next Gen" - Featured Guest Presenters: Walter Kopp, President of Medical Management Services, and Lori Hack, Principal at Mazars

  • 3/18 - Los Angeles ZOOM Table - Discussion Topic: "Two Years in the Life of a Startup" - Featured Member Presenter: Andy Leeka, President of Angle Health

  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>
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Bayer Spotlighted for Its Transformation in Industry Journal

A recent Biospace article - Legendary Bayer is Reinventing its Story with Cell and Gene Therapy - describes how Bayer has, over the past few years, transformed its pipeline by acquiring multiple cell and gene therapy companies to create new opportunities, allowing the company to provide life-saving and life-altering therapies to patients with different disease types. As part of its evolution, Bayer has taken a different approach with its recent acquisitions. The companies are brought under the Bayer umbrella, but they operate independently, at arm's length. This approach aims to let companies maintain that sense of independence to foment entrepreneurial and scientific cultures. (Rama Penta, SV)

Greg Buchert, MD, Featured on "Medicaid Matters" Podcast

Greg Buchert, MD, is interviewed in a recent episode of the Medicaid Matters podcast, hosted by Vik Bakhru, MD, in which Greg declares that the future of Medicaid is all about "empowering people to take care of their own health." A big part of the shift requires technology. Greg says, "We've done a pretty good job of moving from hospital to outpatient services. But I think the next big move is moving from outpatient services to home." And an even bigger part requires cultural competency. "If you've got a product that has to rely on a culturally adapted child in order to influence what happens, that's not as good as something that makes sense to an individual that they can use for themselves," Greg says. (Greg Buchert, MD, OC)

Choice in Aging Talks with Community Leaders in Video Series

Recent episodes of Choice in Aging (CiA)'s "Dishing with Debbie" video series include:
>> Guest Andy Imparato, a disabled lawyer who is Executive Director of Disability Rights California, a $41 million statewide legal services organization.
>> Guest Lori Thames, CiA's VP of Operations, discusses her new role and CiA's programs.
>> Guest Kristin Connelly, CEO of the East Bay Leadership Council, and Executive Director of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership, discusses an initiative to match business leaders with board opportunities in local nonprofits.
>> Guest Dr. Victor Baker, CiA's Chair of the Board of Directors, discusses Black History Month and the significant contributions of African Americans to our shared experiences. (Debbie Toth, OAK)

Cigna Shares Insights on Successful Leaders; Gen Z in the Workforce; & Purpose-Driven Companies

In The Skills and Traits of Successful Leaders in 2022, Cigna spoke with its own corporation leaders on bringing empathy to the way we work, embracing technology, leading with resilience, and more.
AND, in How Generation Z Will Impact the Future of Work, Cigna notes that this generation, which makes up 32% of the global population, and is driving the Great Resignation, cares about diversity, equity, inclusion, meaningful work, financial security, technology, mentorship, stress management, and more.
ALSO, in Purpose-Driven Organizations More Likely to Have Engaged, Committed Employees, Cigna's Chief HR Officer shares some ways organizations can help encourage a purpose-driven culture. (Chris De Rosa, OC)

HHS Distributes New Monoclonal Antibody That Works Against Omicron; & Another $560M in Provider Relief Fund Payments

Recent news from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) includes:
>> The federal government has purchased 600,000 treatment courses of a new monoclonal antibody treatment that data shows works against the Omicron variant. Manufactured by Eli Lilly and Co., HHS will make the treatment, Bebtelovimab, available to states free of charge.
>> HHS made $560+ million in Provider Relief Fund Phase 4 General Distribution payments to 4,100+ providers across the country last week. As such, nearly $11.5 billion in PRF Phase 4 payments has now been distributed to 78,000+ providers in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and five territories. This is in addition to HRSA's distribution of American Rescue Plan Rural payments totaling nearly $7.5 billion in funding to 44,000+ providers since November 2021. (Bonnie Preston, SF)

El Camino Health Offers Lessons in Resilience & Spotlighted in Article on New Covid Pill

In the recent HealthLeaders article - Lessons in Resilience Key to Staff Shortages, Future Covid Variants - El Camino Health (ECH) shares some of the key lessons that the organization has learned so far during the pandemic, including improving communication between leadership and frontline workers; leveraging technology; and seeking creative partnerships.
ALSO, in New COVID pill has local roots: First clinical trial patient enrolled at El Camino, the Los Altos Town Crier visits with ECH's Taft Center for Clinical Research to learn about its work on the infusion that led to the development of Paxlovid, the COVID-19 anti-viral pill from Pfizer. ECH was the first in the world to enroll a patient in Phase 1B of the clinical trial. (Cecile Currier, SV)

Elemeno Health Teams with OSF to Pilot POC Communication & Training Innovation

Elemeno Health and OSF HealthCare, a large health system in Illinois, are partnering on a pilot using a customizable, just-in-time best practices app for nurses. Elemeno's mobile-friendly platform allows for real-time updates on changes in practice, implementation of new treatments, products, even specific notifications based on information learned during team huddles. Elemeno will be piloted in several specific OSF departments, including at Saint Francis Medical Center, a Level 1 trauma center in Peoria, with a goal of full implementation within hospitals and clinics. (Arup Roy-Burman, MD, OAK)

Hospice of Santa Cruz County Honored in HEALTHCAREfirst Awards

For the third consecutive year, caregivers have recognized Hospice of Santa Cruz County (HSCC) for excellence in hospice care in the Hospice Honors 2021 awards from HEALTHCAREfirst. HSCC scored higher than the average of all hospices in California and nationally in the survey in 22 of 24 quality indicators. Hospice Honors acknowledges high performing agencies by analyzing performance of Hospice CAHPS quality measures. (Cathy Conway, SV)

HumanGood and Living Care Retirement Community Complete Affiliation

HumanGood, California's largest non-profit provider of senior housing and services, and Living Care Retirement Community, a non-profit retirement community in Yakima, WA announced that the Washington Department of Social and Health Services has approved their affiliation. This marks the final regulatory step of their affiliation process, and as a result the two organizations are united as HumanGood. (Tara McGuinness, OAK)

Illumination Foundation Announces March 27 & April 19 Events + Shares Its Community Impact

On April 19, Illumination Foundation (IF) will present its 2022 consortium Together We Can - Solutions to Address Equity (previously scheduled for February 3), at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The event will bring together speakers and panelists from governmental agencies, non-profits, for-profits, healthcare providers, private foundations, and educational institutions to drive solution-driven conversations around inequity and inequality in housing, healthcare, workforce, and education.
AND, on March 27, Chef's Table benefiting Illumination Foundation: Uplifting Others Together 2022 will take place, an evening full of delicious cuisine, auction items, and more, in the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom.
MEANWHILE, IF's Inside the Impact Report shares that, in 2021, IF served 4,362 clients, providing shelter, health care, counseling, connections to social services, housing, and hope. (Paul Leon, OC)

Kaiser Permanente, State of California Reach Agreement to Cover More People

The state of California recently announced a new 5-year state contract which will allow Kaiser Permanente (KP) to provide Medi-Cal coverage to more people, improve quality for a broader number of beneficiaries including those covered by other plans, increase the stability and quality of care of the safety net system, and provide additional value beyond these benefits. Through this joint agreement, KP and the state will develop sustainable approaches to increase participation in Medi-Cal and improve the program in a variety of ways. KP is also committed to the Department of Health Care Services CalAIM initiative, a multiyear initiative to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of the Medi-Cal population by providing enhanced care management and community supports in alignment with other Medi-Cal managed care plans.
MEANWHILE, KP has been recognized for the 16th consecutive year by the Human Rights Campaign, with the highest possible score on its 2022 Corporate Equality Index and named a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality. (Marcos Vasconcelos, OAK)

King & Spalding to Present Health Law & Policy Forum on March 21

King & Spalding will host its 31st Annual Health Law & Policy Forum on March 21, in Atlanta, GA, a one-day conference focusing on the foremost legal and political developments impacting the healthcare industry. The keynote speaker will be columnist George F. Will from The Washington Post, who will talk about current political trends and the role of the healthcare industry in shaping them. Attendees will also hear from leading practitioners about current policy and regulatory enforcement updates and the special considerations healthcare providers face in pandemics. (Marcia Augsburger, JD, SF)

KMD Architects Converts Center into Adult Rehab Facility

In Community Behavioral Health: Converting a Juvenile Detention Center into an Adult Rehabilitation Facility, KMD Architects details one of its projects - innovative reuse of an existing facility in Snohomish County, WA to treat patients with addiction and mental health needs. Previously, individuals eligible for treatment were forced to travel across the state, making it difficult for family engagement and education. The only local options for treatment were emergency rooms or jail. (Rob Matthew, SF)

LigoLab Reports on Integrated Reporting in Pathology + Specimen-Tracking & Medical Lab Management Software

A recent article in CAP Today - The rush to deliver integrated reporting in pathology - features LigoLab and its CEO Suren Avunjian, plus other key players in the LIS space, participating in a discussion on anatomic pathology computer systems. Topics include Oracle's purchase of Cerner, cloud computing, and integrated reporting.
ALSO, recent articles from LigoLab include:
>> How Specimen Tracking Software Improves Efficiency and Reduces the Chance for Diagnostic Errors and
>> How Medical Laboratory Management Software Helps Clinical Labs and Pathology Groups Offer Flawless Services. (Suren Avunjian, LA)

MedWand Lauded in Gadget Flow Product Review

The recent Gadget Flow product review - MedWand medical device makes it easier for doctors to diagnose patients remotely - describes the many benefits of the MedWand device. In regards to the article, MedWand CEO Bob Rose said on LinkedIn: "In addition to its IR Thermometer, ECG, Digital Stethoscope and Pulse Oximeter, MedWand also has a 4K camera on board that will have optional add-ons to enable a pro-otoscope performance mode, measurement of skin anomalies, tongue depressor, doctor controlled illumination, and an optional UV wound scope attachment. The entire device weighs 6 ounces. Glucometer, Spirometer, BP Cuff, and BMI weight scale are separate devices but seamlessly integrate into our app via Bluetooth with no pairing required and all under the direct, real-time control of the remotely located healthcare provider, anywhere, anytime. And while we were at it, we added a cloud based AI platform for any FDA approved AI engine and seamless integration into every major EMR system. FDA approval expected soon followed immediately by a revolution in the application of Virtual Care and Health Equity worldwide." (Bob Rose, OC)

Nelson Hardiman Provides Guidelines for Establishing Worksite Covid Testing

In Priority Guidelines FAQs: Establishing Worksite Covid Testing, Nelson Hardiman (NH) discusses the following questions: How do we get started with implementing testing protocols? How should employee Covid-19 records, regarding vaccinations or infections, be stored? Does my business need laboratory CLIA Certification for OTC rapid tests? Can a group health plan cover testing costs? Must employees be compensated for time devoted to testing? How often should employees be tested? and more.
MEANWHILE, NH Managing Partner Harry Nelson was interviewed in two recent episodes of The 5th Element's "Leaders Who Care" Podcast: America's #1 Healthcare Lawyer and Teacher, Peacemaker, Prime Minister and Hall of Famer. (Harry Nelson, JD, LA)

Pharmco CEO to Address National Athletic Trainers Association Conference

Robert Nickell, Pharmacist and CEO of Pharmco Inc., is scheduled to speak at the 73rd NATA (National Athletic Trainers Association) Clinical Symposia & AT Expo, in Philadelphia, PA. On June 29, Robert will make his presentation on "What's in your Medicine Cabinet? Topicals vs Orals." (Robert Nickell, Pharmacist, OC)

Royal Ambulance Chosen for "Workplace From Meta" Feature

In Royal Ambulance doubles down on connection and community to support workplace culture amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, Royal Ambulance talks about its recent collaboration with Workplace from Meta. After reviewing thousands of accounts for standout engagement on their platform, Workplace reached out to Royal Ambulance to be featured in their report: "The 2021 Frontline Barometer" on their blog "Deskless not Voiceless." The companies created a Hollywood-caliber short film to compliment the findings of the research [watch the 3:27-minute video at the article link above]. The piece features real Royal team members and highlights the human connection between patients, team members, and leadership. "We've adopted a new primary customer philosophy," says Steve Grau, CEO of Royal. "Our team members are our number one customer - full stop. Without them we can't provide the services that our patients and hospital partners need." (Steve Grau, SV)

Satellite Healthcare Opens Denver Regional Office & Enters Southeast U.S.

Satellite Healthcare has opened a new regional office outside of downtown Denver, CO, providing the provider of kidney dialysis and related patient services with regional support for strategic growth, business development, business integration, ancillary services and legal and compliance functions.
AND, Satellite has entered into an agreement that will expand its presence and provision of in-center and home dialysis care to the Southeast region of the U.S. with a majority ownership investment in three dialysis centers in Georgia and one in South Carolina. In doing so, the company will be collaborating with the existing nine physician partners of New Renality, based in Franklin, TN. (Jeff Goffman, SV, & Bernadette Vincent, OAK)

SAVI Group Explores Blockchain Technology & Digital Healthcare

In Blockchain Technology & The Future of Healthcare, SAVI Group reports that thanks to its high level of accuracy and security, blockchain technology could help healthcare organizations safely share, store, and access data between multiple parties. Some of these tasks include: Helping facilitate transactions and payments in real-time; Verifying identities and permissions; Transferring data between different parties and providing access; and Recording data in a way that distributes power evenly and tracking it accurately.
AND, in The Exciting Future of Digital Healthcare, Savi Group looks at some promising digital healthcare trends, including innovations in remote care; technology for mental health; and increased access to personal data. (Sumit Mahendru, OC)

Select Data CEO Featured in Industry Journal; Also Explains How OASIS Drives Agency Performance

Select Data CEO Ed Buckley is profiled in Home Health Care News' "Voices," in which he discusses the challenges and opportunities for implementing machine learning and predictive analytics, as well as the degree to which the home-based care industry is prepared in adopting and utilizing AI. Ed concludes with his prediction that in 2022, for the home-based care industry, it will be the year of driving clinical outcomes with lower staff availability. AI may become one of the most important recruitment and retention tools since the advent of the field device.
MEANWHILE, Select Data is offering a White Paper download - How The OASIS Drives Agency Performance, noting that successful home health agencies understand that improving the quality of each OASIS has downstream effects that improve all aspects of their business, from patient outcomes to correct reimbursement. Select Data shares how accurate OASIS Review directly impacts your Star Ratings; Functional Impairment Scores; Publicly Reported Outcomes; Risk Scores for Medicare Advantage Plans; and Value-Based Purchasing Programs. (Ed Buckley, OC)

Wipfli Provides HIPAA Business Associate Compliance Checklist + Announces Upcoming Events & Acquisitions

In HIPAA business associates: How healthcare providers manage the risk, Wipfli acknowledges that business associates play an integral role within every healthcare organization, ranging from housekeeping to complex and integrated services, such as supporting electronic medical records. But how do you know whether your business associates are taking the proper precautions to safeguard your patients' protected health information? Wipfli provides a HIPAA business associate compliance checklist.
AND, upcoming Wipfli events include a webinar on March 14 - Understanding skilled nursing facilities consolidated billing, and the Wipfli Rural Health Clinic Conference - Virtual on April 5-7.
MEANWHILE, Wipfli announced that the teams from Solve100 and Waypoint have joined the firm, bringing a combined 25 years of broad capabilities in data analytics and application development. (Jeff Johnson, John Dao & Steve Rousso, OAK)

Welcome New Member: Mark Parinas, Founder & CEO of Curaesoft

In addition to being the CEO of CVH (home health) Care - and an ABL-Health OAK Member, Mark launched a tech company, Curaesoft, in 2015, after completing a three-year study of the critical software solution needs in the healthcare industry. Curaesoft specializes in custom software built for healthcare, social services, and workforce management. They also build electronic health record systems that cover a healthcare service company's many different but interdependent functional needs, including clinical recording, healthcare business management, clinical compliance, recruitment, HR and financial management, clinical billing, payroll, staff performance evaluation, care coordination, wage/hour, and more. Curaesoft uses a highly agile process to extract the business, clinical, and process support needs from its clients and builds working software assets that can pay back in enhanced operational efficiency and clinical effectiveness. Mark co-founded CVH Care in 2005, which today serves the San Francisco Bay, Greater Sacramento, and Greater Los Angeles areas. In addition to remaining a Member of ABL-Health's Oakland Round Table, Mark has now also joined the ABL-Tech West Los Angeles Round Table.

AfterNow Visually Graphs Covid's Damage by State

AfterNow recently created a series of graphs with a 3D visualization concept to portray the impact of Covid-19, utilizing the company's Viz product. This first demonstration is of the U.S., displaying for each state a column of deaths composed of monthly rings. The size of each ring is proportional to the number of deaths. (Philippe Lewicki, ABL-Tech WLA)

Alvaka CEO Honored with 2022 Peer of the Year Award by Industry Group

The ChannelPro Network has named Oli Thordarson, founder and CEO of Alvaka Networks, as the winner of its 2022 Peer of the Year award, which recognizes channel pros who have shared especially powerful peer-to-peer business advice. ChannelPro magazine recently spotlighted Oli and Alvaka, in an article about their approach to identity and branding, as well as advice about what it takes to invest in and build out a 24/7/365 network operations center. (Oli Thordarson, ABL-Tech SGV)

Eckert & Ziegler to Supply Telix with Lutetium-177 for Clinical Trials

Eckert & Ziegler (EZ) has executed with Telix Pharmaceuticals Limited a comprehensive global supply agreement for EZ's therapeutic radioisotope Lutetium-177. The radiopharmaceutical will be used to advance Telix's portfolio of Molecularly Targeted Radiation investigational products. Lutetium-177 is used in precision oncology for targeted radionuclide therapy. The radioisotope Lutetium-177, is linked to tumor specific drugs which then incorporates the radiating element of the radioisotope into the tumor cells, while largely sparing healthy tissue. With EZ's production facilities in Europe, Asia, and North America, they are in an excellent position to meet the increasing demand for this isotope and related development and manufacturing services. (Frank Yeager, ABL-Tech SGV)

GIDEON Informatics Provides eBooks on Infectious Diseases, Including Occupational Risks

GIDEON Informatics has published an ebook series - comprehensive and up-to-date books summarizing the historical and current endemic status of infectious diseases in 230+ countries and territories, exploring all individual infectious diseases, drugs, vaccines, outbreaks, surveys, and pathogens, in every country of the world. The ebooks complement the GIDEON web application by expanding easy access to GIDEON's vast content without a subscription or continual internet access.
ALSO, GIDEON's blog post - Occupational Infectious Diseases - discusses certain working conditions that put us at increased risk of poor health. For example, some occupations involve repeated exposure to respiratory irritants and carcinogens, while others are associated with musculoskeletal injury or hearing loss. (Uri Blackman, ABL-Tech WLA)

Profi Raises $6M Seed Round; Launches New Corporate Product to Maximize Impact of Professional Service Providers

Profi, Inc., providers of a software-as-a-service solution for coaches, trainers, consultants, therapists and other professional service providers (aka "profis"), has closed a $6 million seed round. The company also announced the launch of its corporate solution - Profi Team - which enables secure collaboration across remote locations, teams, small businesses, and large organizations. Profi Team is built for a post-COVID world, enabling professional service practices to become more agile and efficient, collaborating on projects and clients no matter their location. Profi CEO Alina Trigubenko shares with ABL that "Health & wellness providers take on about 20-30% of the client composite." (Alina Trigubenko, ABL-Tech WLA)

Tanner Research CEO to Present Virtual Nutrition Science Workshops

On the evenings of March 8 (click here) and April 7 (click here), John Tanner, Ph.D., of Tanner Research, will present his free Nutrition Science Virtual Workshop, via Zoom, where he will relay to participants the scientific information they need to avoid heart disease and other leading killers with a proper diet. The group will discuss strategies for change and John will field questions, plus give a free book to participants. (John Tanner, Ph.D., ABL-Tech SGV)

The Joy Factory Features Its VESA Mount in Video

This 2:38-minute video highlights The Joy Factory's VESA 75/100 HD AMPs Mount, a versatile solution to positioning a device in an emergency vehicle such as a fire truck, ambulance, or police cruiser. The base features a drill-down universal AMPs base that easily attaches to flat surfaces. With VESA 75x75mm, 100x50mm, and 100x100mm configurations it will accommodate most IPCs and a variety of other devices. (Sampson Yang, ABL-Tech OC, and Miranda Su, ABL-Tech SGV)

Russia-Ukraine War: Threats Facing the Healthcare Sector

As Russia's military invasion and cyberattacks on Ukraine escalate, critical infrastructure entities, including those in the health and public health sector of the U.S. and other countries condemning Russia's actions, must also be on high alert for potentially disruptive cyber assaults, some experts warn. "Any state-sponsored Russian attacks aiming to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or to retaliate for U.S., NATO, or other foreign measures taken in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, are most likely to be destructive or disruptive in nature, rather than aiming to steal data," says Paul Prudhomme, a former U.S. Department of Defense threat analyst who is now a researcher with cybersecurity threat intelligence firm IntSights, a Rapid7 company. Such types of attacks include distributed denial-of-service, website defacements, and the use of ransomware or other destructive malware, he says.

Last week, the HHS Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center, or HC3, issued an alert for the healthcare and public health sector - based on a recent advisory from CISA. The agencies warn about incidents involving malicious actors using influence operations, including tactics like misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation - aka MDM - "to shape public opinion, undermine trust, amplify division and sow discord." Foreign actors engage in these actions to bias the development of policy and undermine the security of the U.S. and its allies, disrupt markets and foment unrest, the HC3 alert says. CISA's warning is intended to ensure that critical infrastructure owners and operators are aware of the risks of influence operations leveraging social media and online platforms, HC3 says.

As the conflict in the Ukraine worsens, all critical sectors, including healthcare, should be reviewing response plans, increasing network and endpoint monitoring, says Michael Hamilton, CISO of security firm Critical Insight and former CISO of the city of Seattle. Hamilton especially recommends that healthcare organizations ensure that vendor and business associates know to report their own compromises to covered entities. (https://www.healthcareinfosecurity.com/russia-ukraine-war-threats-facing-healthcare-sector-a-18605?mc_cid=a0ae14ba76&mc_eid=12fad95525)

CMS Changes Trump-Era Innovation Models Affecting ACOs

CMS announced on February 24 major changes to several of its innovation models, including the permanent cancellation of the Geographic Direct Contracting Model - a Trump-era model that tested whether a geographic-based approach to care delivery and value-based care can improve health and reduce costs for Medicare beneficiaries across an entire geographic region. On the same day, CMS also announced the launch of the Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (ACO REACH) Model, a rebranded and redesigned version of the Global and Professional Direct Contracting Model. (King & Spalding Health Headlines, Feb. 28: https://kslawemail.com/128/8792/pages/article2.asp?sid=ef4afa83-f5c8-4ee5-bb49-00e60c51eca7)

Healthcare Worker Job Status Proposal - "Uber for Nurses" - Scuttled in California

A proposed California ballot initiative that would have cleared the way for healthcare workers to be independent contractors under the state's rigid worker classification law has been withdrawn. The proposal would have benefited the burgeoning industry of app-based companies offering flexible options for nurses and home health aides who don't fall into the traditional employment model for the staffing agencies. The group Californians for Equitable Health Care Access proposed the initiative amid labor shortages and burnout from Covid-19 in the healthcare industry. (https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/health-care-worker-job-status-proposal-scuttled-in-california)

Demise of Single-Payer in California Trips Up Efforts in Other States

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had promised to spearhead single-payer health care when he ran for governor four years ago, dashed its chances this year when he declined to publicly support it. Instead, the first-term Democrat, who is running for reelection this November, is pushing for "universal health care," which aims to provide all Californians with coverage but, unlike single-payer, would keep private health insurance intact. Newsom's retreat devastated progressive activists and the powerful California Nurses Association union, which championed the cause. The death of single-payer in the nation's most populous state also deals a major blow to similar campaigns elsewhere in the nation - which had looked to California for inspiration and leadership - casting doubt on their ability to succeed. But single-payer activists in Colorado, Washington state, and elsewhere say that rather than giving up, they are taking key lessons from California's failure: It is essential to win - and keep - support from the governor. Groups pushing single-payer must unite Democrats, bringing in business-friendly moderates and broader support from organized labor. And they say they must learn how to counter intense lobbying by doctors, hospitals, and health insurance companies fighting to preserve the status quo. (https://californiahealthline.org/news/article/the-demise-of-single-payer-in-california-trips-up-efforts-in-other-states/)

OIG Report Analyzes Payments in Excess of Hospice Per Diem Rate

OIG released a report analyzing trends in the last decade relating to Medicare payments for hospice beneficiaries outside of the hospice per diem. In the report, OIG notes that CMS has taken the position that services provided to a hospice beneficiary that are unrelated to the beneficiary's terminal illness and related conditions should be exceptional, unusual and rare. But the OIG report showed that in the last ten years, almost half of hospice beneficiaries received nonhospice benefits, totaling $6.6 billion in nonhospice payments. This report calls for increased scrutiny on nonhospice payments. (King & Spalding Health Headlines, Feb. 21: https://kslawemail.com/128/8765/pages/art1.asp?sid=8c629cf3-4031-4017-b981-6918adec9e09)

Newsom Administration Outlines Future Plans for COVID

Vowing to be smarter after lessons learned over the past two years, the Newsom administration recently gave a glimpse of what the next few months - and potentially years - may look like in California with COVID-19 likely to stick around. Gov. Newsom's health secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said the state's new plan marks a shift in the handling of the pandemic toward preparedness, acknowledging that officials will have to be flexible to respond to any new variants of concern. The state dubbed its new plan "SMARTER," an acronym for its seven areas of focus: shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education and Rx treatments. The goals: Capacity to perform at least half a million tests per day and administer 200,000 vaccines per day on top of what's available at pharmacies or doctors' offices, expand school-based vaccine sites by 25% and ensure that therapies are available and affordable. Also included is building on current wastewater surveillance and genome sequencing to have a better understanding of the evolving virus, and pursuing a public-private partnership with a COVID-19 test manufacturer that can secure a supply chain for California. (https://calmatters.org/health/coronavirus/2022/02/california-covid-plans/)

Covid Paid Sick Leave is Back in California

Many California workers can once again apply for COVID-related sick pay under legislation approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Newsom. As of Feb. 19, people who work for public or private companies that have 26 or more employees are entitled to up to 80 hours of COVID-related paid sick leave retroactive to Jan. 1 and extending through Sept. 30. (https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/article/COVID-paid-sick-leave-is-back-in-California-16945433.php)

Compliance Considerations for Preparing to Unwind Reliance on Public Health Emergency Waivers

When COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency (PHE), the Secretary of HHS was authorized to waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, HIPAA, and EMTALA requirements. Many healthcare organizations employed these waivers or modifications by implementing temporary policies and procedures to ensure their ability to rapidly adapt to changing patient volumes and demand for providers, supplies, and equipment during the PHE. Because many of the PHE waivers and flexibilities relaxed rules related to high-priority areas for CMS, King & Spalding expects that investigations and enforcement will begin around flexibilities that will be rolled back with the expiration of the PHE. (King & Spalding Health Headlines, Feb. 14: https://kslawemail.com/128/8740/pages/article4.asp?sid=1cb8cea9-fe84-4fc7-ac82-5816efd3cdd9)

MEANWHILE, California governor ends 12 emergencies, but not for COVID: Multiple California emergencies declared by the last two governors officially ended on February 25 - including for heat waves, an oil spill, wildfires, and the civil unrest in reaction to George Floyd's murder - but Gov. Newsom said the threat from the coronavirus lives on and so does the emergency he declared for it nearly two years ago. In all, Newsom signed an order ending 12 state of emergency declarations, which automatically terminate any associated executive orders relating to those events. But he offered no timeline for ending the statewide coronavirus emergency, meaning he will continue to wield broad authority to change or suspend state laws in response to the pandemic. (https://apnews.com/article/coronavirus-pandemic-health-california-gavin-newsom-cd7450946e580263f605a0c01573b69b)

For Some People, CDC Suggests More Time Between 1st and 2nd Covid Vaccine Doses

Regarding the time between first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines, the CDC has adjusted its suggested timeline for some people by another month or so. Since the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccinations were first authorized for distribution by federal officials more than 14 months ago, the recommended interval between the first and second dose of those shots was three and four weeks, respectively. But last week, the CDC said it may be optimal for some people 12 and older to space out their first and second shots by eight weeks - especially for males ages 12 to 39. The benefit of extending the recommended time between shots among certain groups could help reduce the exceedingly rare risk of vaccine-associated myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, according to information from Dr. Sara Oliver, a pediatric infectious diseases expert, presented at a recent CDC advisory committee meeting. (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-02-26/cdc-suggests-more-time-between-1st-and-2nd-covid-vaccine-doses-for-some-people-heres-why)

Vaccine Credentials Enabling Wider Progress on Public Health Interoperability

First announced in January 2021, the Vaccine Credential Initiative - co-founded by MITRE Corporation and others including Cerner, Change Healthcare, Epic, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce and others - has made big progress over the past year-plus on new approaches to interoperable record-keeping. The public and private partnership collaborated on developing a standard model for "trustworthy, traceable, verifiable, and universally recognized digital record of vaccination status" - offering individuals digital access to their vaccination records using the open and interoperable SMART Health Cards specification based on W3C Verifiable Credential and HL7 FHIR standards. At HIMSS22 in Orlando in March, Dr. Brian Anderson, chief digital health physician at MITRE Corporation, and Bryant Karras, chief public health informatics officer and senior epidemiologist at Washington State Department of Health, will offer an update on the progress of the Vaccine Credential Initiative, and other initiatives like it. (https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/vaccine-credentials-enabling-wider-progress-public-health-interoperability?mc_cid=a0ae14ba76&mc_eid=12fad95525)

Telemedicine Leaves Behind Non-English Speakers, Study Shows

People who speak limited English struggled to access telehealth services in the US during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new analysis, affecting their ability to connect with medical care. It's something experts worried about as soon as health organizations made the switch from in-person to virtual care. Clinic patients who spoke limited English struggled to set up and use platforms like Zoom for health visits, the researchers found. Even if information on a platform was translated into other languages, it was often translated badly. Integrating third-party interpreters for non-English speaking patients into telehealth platforms was also difficult. But even without language barriers getting in the way, many patients didn't have the digital literacy to navigate telemedicine, didn't have devices that could use the telehealth tools, or didn't have good enough internet access to connect with a provider. (https://www.theverge.com/2022/2/24/22948959/telemedicine-limited-english-digital-literacy?mc_cid=a0ae14ba76&mc_eid=12fad95525)

New Research on What is Better than a "Wellness Program"

U.S. employers are embracing wellness programs, betting that if they can get workers to lose weight, stop smoking, or adopt other healthy behaviors that will reduce healthcare costs and boost productivity. The problem is, as these programs grow in popularity - workplace wellness is a $50 billion-a-year industry already - research finds little evidence that they actually improve workers' health. Is there something more effective that organizations should be doing instead? In the wellness context, new research finds that the most significant barriers to changing lifestyles are related to living situations and income levels. Things such as not having an established primary-care physician, the ability to get to a gym, or knowing how to prepare healthy meals are the kinds of things that lead to persistent differences in health outcomes. Therefore, helping employees get access to a primary-care doctor might be one of the most important things employers could do to improve employee health outcomes. A quarter of adults and 35% of younger adults don't have access to a primary-care doctor, and that percentage has been growing. Finding a reputable doctor who takes a person's insurance and is accepting new patients can be difficult even for people with resources. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-problem-with-employee-wellness-programs-11645196400?mod=hp_jr_pos3)

ON THE OTHER HAND: Salesforce Is Making a Wellness Retreat for Workers Reinvigorating corporate culture and employee enthusiasm at Salesforce.com Inc. after nearly two years of remote work will involve the great outdoors as much as returning to an office. The software giant signed a multiyear booking agreement for a 75-acre retreat set among the redwoods in Scotts Valley, Calif., to create an employee work-and-wellness center for its nearly 70,000-person staff. Salesforce plans to use the property 70 miles south of San Francisco to onboard new hires and conduct off-site team meetings for social bonding and leadership training, said Brent Hyder, chief people officer. The Salesforce "Trailblazer Ranch," as it will be known, is one of the first experiments by a big employer with building culture for a workforce that is no longer coming into an office five days a week. The majority of Salesforce's employees will work in a hybrid model once the pandemic is over, coming into the office between one and three days a week. Stays at Salesforce's retreat will combine work and training with wellness activities such as yoga and hiking. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/forget-the-officesalesforce-is-making-a-wellness-retreat-for-workers-11644510615?mod=hp_lead_pos11)

People Over 80 Are Still Taking Care of Their Parents & Partners

The U.S. population is aging, and so are caregivers. The increasing number of caregivers 65 and older is adding a layer of fragility to the nation's already strained family caregiving system, long the backbone of long-term care. Having a loved one around in old age is a blessing for many, and caring for a loved one provides a sense of purpose. But the duties are upending what many had expected from their retirement years. An estimated 19% of the nation's 53 million unpaid family caregivers are 65 and older, up from 13% in 2004. Caregivers in advanced age - 75 and older - now represent 7% of caregivers, according to the 2020 Caregiving in the U.S. report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Older caregivers are likely to be dealing with their own health needs. They might not be in the "sandwich" stage of life, juggling a job and teenagers, but may have arthritis and a bad hip, live on fixed income and live 500 miles away from the person whose care they are responsible for. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/people-over-80-are-still-taking-care-of-their-parents-and-partners-11644415549?mod=wsjhp_columnists_pos3)

Jeff Bezos Is "Paying for a Way to Make Humans Immortal"

Jeff Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon, has reportedly made an investment in the freshly launched Altos Labs, a biotech startup focused on "cellular rejuvenation programming to restore cell health and resilience, with the goal of reversing disease to transform medicine.". With $3 billion in backing on day one, Altos Labs has hit the ground running with what may be the single largest funding round for a biotech company, according to the Financial Times of London. Overseen by teams of luminaries in their respective fields, Altos will open two California laboratories in the Bay Area and San Diego, per a press release. It will also have a laboratory in Cambridge, England and collaborate with scientists in Japan. (https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/startups/a38867242/jeff-bezos-altos-labs/)

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