Health Care News


Challenges remain as health care reform deadline nears

KEYSTONE -As the implementation date of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gets closer, challenges remain, according to speakers at the Colorado Health Foundation's annual Colorado Health Symposium.

Health care policy leaders and physicians from across Colorado are in Keystone for the three-day conference, which runs through Friday.

Benjamin Domenech, research fellow at Chicago-based Heartland Institute and managing editor at Health Care News, outlined issues that face the nation as the Jan. 1, 2014 effective date for the historic legislation approaches.

One of the most pressing issues is implementation of the law itself, Domenech said. The functionality of such a massive piece of reform takes time to coordinate, and many parts of the law are being rushed in order to meet the deadline.

One example is a recent announcement that the number of hours of training for the "navigators" who will help consumers figure out the new health care exchanges will be reduced from 30 hours to 20 hours, Domenech said.

Other parts of the law, including the employer mandate, have been pushed back by an entire year, raising questions over how the rest of the deadlines will be met. Beyond that,

Northern Colorado Business Report
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Medicare PART D Prescription Drug Coverage News; Doughnut Hole Coverage Changes; Department of Health and Human Services Medicare and Medicaid News Review

Medicare and Medicaid premium cost trend review today August 5, 2013: Medicare Part D beneficiaries received some positive news from the government recently after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed that the average premium should remain generally flat in the coming year.

According to the the Department of Health and Human Services, the average premium within the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2014 will post at approximately $31 compared to the average of $30 this year. This is great news for those beneficiaries making it day to day on a tight rope budget plan. This news also adds to other savings that Medicare and Medicaid recipients have received recently. The government reported that added competition has pressured drug costs lower. According to the Health and Human Services Department, out of pocket expenses on prescription drugs has fallen recently. The Department reports that approximately 6.6 billion people with Medicare and Medicaid have saved billions on prescription drugs due, in part, to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Department relays that savings per beneficiary amounts to approximately $1,061. This is great news and reveals that plans to diminish, and eventually extinguish, the doughnut hole appear to be effective.

Learning and Finance
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Going Sky High: Healthcare Accelerates Move Into Cloud-based Services

The healthcare industry is gradually overcoming its fears and is—finally—about to get high on the cloud.

The array of technologies commonly known as cloud computing are coming into their own in healthcare as a secure, capable and cost-effective means to provision computer hardware, and software and services, despite persistent and still lingering concerns about privacy, security and reliability.

One newer user who's happy she jumped to the cloud is Terri Kendrick, director of purchasing at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare system in Glendale, Wis. Three of its 11 hospitals are up and running on a cloud-based, medical/surgical ordering system from McKesson Corp. in a rollout that began in November and should wrap up by October, she says.

“Security has always been an issue,” Kendrick says, so the plan to switch to a cloud-based system was scrutinized. “We talked to our IS department about the encrypting and password protection and we addressed everybody's concerns.”

While Wheaton's departing in-house ordering system has 60,000 items, the new cloud-based system has 1.3 million and is growing, Kendrick says, including “300,000 items with our purchase history, pricing and formularies.” The cloud enables buyers to expand their formularies and sellers to grow their product catalogs more quickly and easily.

“If you're in the OR, you've gone in and built a list of your favorites, because you don't want to access 1.3 million” records, Kendrick says. “So you just select an item and drop it into your shopping cart and it's done.” The new system also features onboard decision support. “If it's something that's not on contract, it will flag you, and because it has artificial intelligence behind it, it will flag you to an item that is on contract.”

For managers, “there is a dashboard that can show that this is a missed opportunity or somebody is doing a bang-up job.”

Kendrick says it's too early to talk about return on investment in the technology, but “we're looking to see where those opportunities are.” Todd Tabel, vice president of McKesson's supply chain solutions unit, says the software runs in a cloud hosted by Amazon. The online retailer is also a major provider of cloud services. For McKesson today, Tabel says, “well under 10%” of its supply chain software is cloud-based, but “it's come far enough in terms of adoption, you'll see quicker uptake in three to five years.”

Modern Healthcare
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Compound Effective Against Drug-Resistant TB

A new drug capable of inhibiting growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is reported this week in Nature Medicine. The findings may improve therapeutic options for the treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis (TB).

One-third of the world’s population is latently infected with M. tuberculosis and more than a million people die of TB each year. Multidrug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis are spreading, and therefore the need to develop new and improved drugs is urgent.

Kevin Pethe and colleagues screened a chemical library for inhibitors of M. tuberculosis growth in macrophages and identified imidazopyrimidine amides as potential candidates. The team then optimized these chemicals in order to generate the compound Q203. This compound, which showed efficacy in vitro and in a mouse model of established TB, targets part of the M. tuberculosis electron chain and therefore inhibits ATP synthesis— which is needed for cellular energy production.

The findings support the concept of targeting ATP synthesis to potentially eradicate both active and latent M. tuberculosis and provide a new candidate for clinical validation.

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News Features

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  • Healthcare Reform Legislation Deemed Unconstitutional in Florida
  • Richard Manny Featured in "The Good Pharmacist"
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