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Healthcare Roundup: CVS, Walgreens, Amazon Leading Shift to Home Healthcare; OTC Birth Control & More

September 16, 2022 (5 min read)

CVS, Walgreens, Amazon Shifting Healthcare Delivery to Homes

This month, CVS announced it was buying home healthcare company Signify Health for $8 billion, adding in-home care to its vertically integrated system that already includes health insurance, retail pharmacy and urgent care. Walgreens recently made a $330 million majority-stake investment in post-acute and home-care company CareCentrix. And Amazon has announced plans to acquire primary care company One Medical for $3.9 billion.

Colin Banas, M.D., chief medical officer at DrFirst and a former chief medical information officer for VCU Health System in Richmond, Virginia, said care at home has been on the rise over the past decade and that trend accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Signify deal is CVS skating to where the puck is going to be in three to five years,” he added.

The shift in healthcare delivery to the home will disrupt legacy patient-provider relationships, according to executives at the Chartis Group.

“Health systems would do well to consider how they are positioned to deliver care at home as an integrated part of their care models, Tom Kiesau, chief innovation officer; Mark Krivopal, M.D., director; and Floyd Pitts, research analyst, wrote in a blog post. “This may include evaluating legacy home health assets and programs, while also rapidly evaluating the business case for launching a hospital at home program as part of their broader strategic and operational plans.” (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

FDA to Weigh OTC Birth Control Pill Sales

The Food and Drug Administration’s Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and Obstetrics, Reproductive, and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee will meet on Nov. 18 to discuss pharmaceutical company Perrigo’s application to switch its birth control pill from prescription to over the counter. If approved it would be the first OTC birth control pill available in the United States. (HILL)

U.S. to Spend $2B+ on Biomanufacturing Development

The U.S. government plans to invest over $2 billion in President Biden’s new biomanufacturing initiative, which will fund efforts to build or expand drug manufacturing sites and prepare for future pandemics. The money is tied to an executive order issued by Biden aimed at making the U.S. drug industry less dependent on foreign manufacturing. (STAT)

Court Ruling Opens Door for Return of Preventive Services Copays

A federal judge ruled this month that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health plans pay the full cost of preventive services, or first-dollar coverage, is unconstitutional. The decision by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in a Texas lawsuit could spur health plans and self-insured employers to reimpose cost sharing for preventive services. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS)

U.S. House Passes Medicare Advantage Reform Bill

The U.S. House passed legislation that would require Medicare Advantage insurers to employ electronic prior authorization programs, to provide notification of items and services subject to prior authorization each year, and to adopt protection standards for beneficiaries. The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act now moves to the Senate. (MODERN HEALTHCARE)

Medicare Billed $128M in ‘High Risk’ Charges in Pandemic’s First Year

More than 1,700 doctors and healthcare providers billed Medicare nearly $128 million in “high risk” claims in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic when telehealth restrictions were loosened, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. Federal investigators urged the Biden administration to tighten oversight of telehealth to ensure that Americans can continue to access remote care without hurting taxpayers. (USA TODAY)

Report Identifies Main Causes of Medical Malpractice Claims Against Nurses

Patient monitoring, medications, patient falls and pressure injuries caused more than three quarters of medical malpractice claims against nurses, according to a report from professional liability insurer Coverys. But the report also noted that although nurses make up 56 percent of the healthcare workforce, they were involved in only 18 percent of malpractice claims. (INSURANCE JOURNAL)

Study Shows More Money Wasted with Traditional Medicare Than with Medicare Advantage

Beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans received 9.2 percent fewer low-value services than those in traditional Medicare, according to a study that looked at data from roughly 2.5 million Humana members. Low-value services are tests, treatments and procedures that don’t improve outcomes more than marginally. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

Graham Proposes Federal Ban on Abortions after 15 Weeks

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced legislation that would ban abortions after 15 weeks nationwide. Graham said The Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act was meant to counter an effort by congressional Democrats to codify Roe v. Wade after it was overturned by the Supreme Court in June. But Graham acknowledged there was little chance of his bill getting a vote with the Democrats in control of Congress. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE)

U.S. House Republicans Introduce Pharmacist Conscience Bill

Republicans in the U.S. House introduced legislation that would roll back Biden administration guidance warning pharmacists of the legal and financial consequences of refusing to dispense contraception or abortion drugs. Like the federal 15-week abortion ban measure introduced in the Senate the day before, the “Pharmacist Conscience Protection Act” is not expected to advance unless Republicans take control of Congress next term. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS, POLITICO)

WI Committee Rejects Healthcare Worker Violence Proposal

Wyoming’s Joint Judiciary Committee voted down draft legislation to make assault or threat of violence against a healthcare worker a misdemeanor crime punishable by a fine up to $750 and battery against a healthcare worker a misdemeanor punishable by incarceration up to six months or a fine up to $750. Some lawmakers expressed concerns that the proposal would have resulted in charges being filed for looking at someone the wrong way or that the prescribed penalties would do little to deter violence. (WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE)

Albany Med Agrees to Repay More Nurses Charged Illegal Fees

New York has reached a second settlement with Albany Medical Center over an illegal provision in its employment contracts with nurses hired from overseas requiring them to pay thousands of dollars and threatening them with deportation for resigning or being fired within the first three years of employment. Last year the AG’s office recovered over $90,000 in fees paid by seven former Albany Med employees. State investigators determined at the time that those fees violated human trafficking laws. The new settlement will return over $24,000 to eight more former Albany Med nurses who paid such fees between 2007 and 2010. (ALBANY TIMES UNION)

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK


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