#PNN In Other News

Here are some other local, state or national stories we are reading that may impact you, your practice or your patients.

U.S. Prices For Healthcare Services Far Outpace Peer Nations | As Democratic presidential candidates debate the state of U.S. healthcare, a common theme is the high cost of the system. Senator Bernie Sanders (I - Vermont), in particular, has made the claim that the U.S. spends twice as much on healthcare, per capita, as any other nation in the world. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the U.S. spent $10,586 on healthcare per capita in 2018, about twice the average of $5,280 among peer nations. While Sanders’ claim is erroneous, he’s pointing to a serious problem. Total healthcare spending is a function of both prices paid for and volume of healthcare services and technologies provided. Higher prices - “it’s the prices, stupid” - rather than utilization explain the higher per capita spending in the U.S. relative to other high-income countries. Utilization of many healthcare services is in fact lower in the U.S.; for example, fewer physician visits and fewer hospital days upon admission.

Health care data-sharing rules touch off intense lobbying fight | The looming release of data-sharing rules for health care have sparked an intense lobbying fight, with hospitals, digital health firms and patient access groups joining a battle that pits the promise of care coordination and streamlined research against nightmares over compliance and privacy. Last Tuesday, former HHS Secretary and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson jumped into the fray with an op-ed denouncing the rules on behalf of a hometown company, health records giant Epic, which is based outside Madison. The proposed rules, currently under White House review, would allow patients to access their health information and share it with third-party apps, require hospitals to send notifications of admits, discharges or transfers, penalize information blocking and allow researchers and doctors to share screenshots of software to promote safety.

Text Messaging and Other Communications During Peer Review Process Suggest Improper Motivation and Create Genuine Dispute of Material Facts, Precluding Summary JudgementA recent decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California highlights the role and impact verbal and written communications — including text messages — may have in litigation resulting from lost job opportunities or an unfavorable peer review determination. In July 2016, Dr. Jason Toranto, a pediatric plastic surgeon and craniofacial surgeon, filed a lawsuit against various defendants alleging that they engaged in illegal, retaliatory, defamatory, and anticompetitive conduct against him.1 Dr. Toranto alleged that the conduct resulted in both a lost job opportunity and denial of privileges following, what he considered to be, a “sham peer review” process.2 Dr. Toranto asserted various causes of action, including violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act,3 defamation, and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. Among the named defendants were Children’s Hospital of Orange County (“CHOC”), Children’s Hospital of Orange County Medical Staff (“CHOC Medical Staff”), Dr. Amanda Gosman (“Dr. Gosman”), Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego (“Rady’s”), and Dr. Daniel Jaffurs (“Dr. Jaffurs”) (collectively, “Defendants”).

California, 13 other states sue to stop Trump’s food stamp cuts | Fourteen states, including California, filed suit Thursday against the Trump administration to block a rule that would eliminate food stamps for an estimated 688,000 Americans. “No one should have to choose between a hot meal and paying their rent,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Yet again, the Trump Administration has failed to offer any legitimate evidence to justify decisions that have real consequences for the health and well-being of our residents.” The states plus Washington, D.C., and New York City are claiming that the Trump administration failed to follow the steps required to enact such a far-sweeping rule. It’s the latest in a record 65 lawsuits that Becerra has brought against the Trump administration.

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