Tuesday, January 30, 2024 – KFF Health News

Closed Illinois Hospital Will Be Reopened By OSF Healthcare

The hospital in Peru, Illinois had been recently shuttered and will now open April 7, offering emergency services and a limited inpatient facility. Also in the news: Steward Health Care’s financial issues; ProMedica’s Paramount Health acquisition by Medical Mutual; and more.

Modern Healthcare:
OSF HealthCare To Reopen Peru, Illinois Hospital

OSF HealthCare said Monday it will reopen a recently closed hospital in Peru, Illinois. The facility is expected to open April 7 and offer emergency services as well as a limited number of inpatient beds, according to the Peoria, Illinois-based health system. Diagnostic imaging, laboratory, pharmacy, EKG and respiratory services will be available in the emergency department and inpatient units. (DeSilva, 1/29)

The Boston Globe:
Steward Health Care Issues Tied To Profit Motives, Warren Says

US Senator Elizabeth Warren said Monday that Steward Health Care’s explanations for its financial distress “do not add up,” blaming the hospital operator’s problems on the economic motivations of its for-profit business model. In a statement, Warren said she was concerned about Steward’s stability, and that she was appalled by allegations that the company’s financial problems are affecting patient care. Steward has said it is in such a dire position that it may not be able to continue providing services at its nine Massachusetts hospitals. (Bartlett, 1/29)

Modern Healthcare:
ProMedica’s Paramount Health To Be Acquired By Medical Mutual

ProMedica plans to sell Paramount Health, its health insurance subsidiary, to Medical Mutual. There would be no immediate change for members of either insurer and Paramount Health plans would still be available, Medical Mutual said Monday. The deal does not include Paramount Health’s dental insurance plan. (DeSilva, 1/29)

Modern Healthcare:
Fitch: 4 Financial Challenges Facing Hospitals In 2024 

2024 looks like another challenging year for hospitals and health systems trying to rebuild. Rising costs for labor, supplies and infrastructure continue to plague providers as they adjust to a new operating environment with higher wages and inflated prices after the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, patient volumes are increasing and putting pressure on existing care facilities, forcing providers to draw from their cash to keep up with demands. (Hudson, 1/29)

On health care workers —

Chicago Tribune:
Northwestern Medicine Resident Physicians Vote To Unionize

A large majority of residents and fellows at Northwestern Medicine hospitals and clinics voted in favor of unionizing, making them the biggest union of medical house staff in the Midwest with nearly 1,300 doctors. (Ahmad, 1/29)

KFF Health News:
Where Are The Nation’s Primary Care Providers? It’s Not An Easy Answer 

Clinicians at Valley-Wide Health Systems never know who will appear at their clinic in San Luis, a town of about 600 people in southern Colorado. “If someone’s in labor, they’ll show up. If someone has a laceration, they’ll show up,” said nurse practitioner Emelin Martinez, the chief medical officer for the health care system serving 13 rural Colorado counties. But she struggled to find a full-time medical provider for that clinic, the only one in Costilla County. Born and raised in the area, Martinez filled some of the gap by driving about 45 minutes from Alamosa, the nearest city, once a week for months. A physician assistant from another town chipped in, too. (Bichell, 1/30)

More health care industry news —

Surprise Billing Process Still Choked By Claims: Survey

The ban on surprise medical bills protected patients from more than 10 million claims for out-of-network services in the first nine months of 2023, according to new estimates by health insurer groups. But the process for settling billing disputes is still in disarray. (Bettelheim, 1/30)

Accountable Care Participation Grows In 2024

More providers are participating in cost-cutting alliances of hospitals, doctors and other providers who care for groups of Medicare patients, according to new federal data. But participation in Medicare’s dominant value-based payment program is still hovering at levels similar to 2019. (Goldman, 1/30)

The Gap In A New Plan To Speed Health Insurance Authorizations

Medicare Advantage plans have to follow the same response time frames for drugs administered in a doctor’s office or hospital. State Medicaid programs have similar rules for outpatient drugs. Drugs account for a significant share of prior authorization requests, and patients and doctors argue the the new rules, as is, won’t increase access to needed treatments. (Goldman, 1/30)

How Generative AI Ratchets Up Security Threats For Health Systems

The ubiquity of AI tools like ChatGPT could be a boon to hospitals eager for diagnostic aids or administrative assistants that can flag crucial medical details and ease the burden of repetitive tasks. But security experts say they can just as easily be harnessed by malicious hackers to exploit an industry known for outdated cyber protections. (Ravindranath, 1/30)

Modern Healthcare:
How Dana-Farber’s Scandal Could Hurt Its Reputation

Allegations of data manipulation in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s research has sparked intense scrutiny of a long-revered pillar in cancer treatment and put its once-sparkling reputation into question. Cancer treatment is a big business. Retaining Dana-Farber’s long-term standing and preserving its bottom line will depend on how fast the institute moves to control the fallout from a scandal that has made national headlines, marketing and risk management experts said. (Hudson, 1/29)

KFF Health News’ ‘An Arm and a Leg’ Podcast::
Self-Defense 101: Keeping Your Cool While You Fight 

Navigating the U.S. health care system can feel like a “battle royale.” From challenging unfair medical bills to wrestling with insurance companies over pre-authorizations, patients have to be ready to stick up for themselves. So, how can you stay cool and confident in these fights? In this rebroadcast of “An Arm and a Leg” from 2020, host Dan Weissmann hits up self-defense coach Lauren Taylor about strategies for standing up for yourself and hears how she applied her approach in her own fight for health care coverage. (1/30)


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