Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Walmart Will Cover Workers’ Fertility Treatments Under Insurance

AP, reminding us that Walmart is also the nation’s largest private employer, says the retailer has partnered with fertility startup Kindbody. Also: a $20 million donation to Episcopal Health Foundation to boost Texas health care, a $35 million investment in GoHealth, and more.

Walmart To Cover Fertility Treatments Under Insurance Plan 

Walmart is teaming up with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its workers expand their families. The nation’s largest retailer and private employer said Tuesday it’s partnering with New York-based Kindbody to offer benefits such as in vitro fertilization as well as fertility testing regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. (D’Innocenzio and Murphy, 9/27)

In other health industry news —

Houston Chronicle:
Billionaire MacKenzie Scott Donates $20M To Houston Nonprofit

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated $20 million to Episcopal Health Foundation to help the Houston nonprofit in its mission to improve health and health care in Texas, the foundation announced Tuesday. The donation will be used to bolster the effectiveness of EHF’s ongoing grantmaking, research and community engagement programs, according to a news release. (MacDonald, 9/27)

DaVita Loses Bid To Dismiss Class ‘No-Poach’ Claims

A Chicago federal judge on Monday said a private civil antitrust case could move forward against DaVita Inc and other large employers in the outpatient medical-care market that are accused of conspiring to restrict employee compensation and mobility. (Scarcella, 9/27)

Modern Healthcare:
GoHealth Gets $35M Investment From Anthem

Weeks after laying off one-fifth of its workforce, health insurance brokerage, GoHealth closed a $50 million private investment round. According to an FCC filing, more than half of the investment came from Indianapolis-based insurance giant, Anthem, which recently re-branded to Elevance Health. (Turner, 9/26)

Back To Business: Health Care M&A Activity Expected To Accelerate

The Justice Department’s failed attempt to block UnitedHealth’s $13 billion acquisition of health tech Change Healthcare could bode well for other mega-deals as the nation pushes past the pandemic and health industry players firm up their growth plans. (Dreher, 9/28)

Modern Healthcare:
Mass General Brigham’s Big Cost-Cutting Plan Approved By State

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved Mass General Brigham’s 18-month plan to curb excessive spending. In January, the commission ordered Mass General to come up with a performance improvement plan after it exceeded the commission’s spending growth benchmark by $293 million from 2014 to 2019.  The commission said Mass General’s actions could jeopardize the state and its care delivery system. (Hudson, 9/27)

The Boston Globe:
This Next Step Of Integrating Mass General Brigham Will Be The Toughest One Yet

As some doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s ordered replacements for worn-out lab coats over the last year, many noticed a change when they received their new garments: the emblem on the breast no longer bore the crests of their individual hospitals, but instead carried the logo for the corporate parent — Mass General Brigham. (Bartlett, 9/27)

Also —

Modern Healthcare:
Telehealth, In-Person Visits Comparable In Quality: Study

Telehealth visits for primary care can be comparable in quality to in-person visits, suggesting remote testing and screenings are valuable tools to augment patient care. The finding follows a study of more than 500,000 patients across 200 outpatient care sites in Pennsylvania and Maryland who either had exposure to telemedicine or only had in-person visits between March 1, 2020, and November 30, 2021. (Devereaux, 9/27)

Few Places Have More Medical Debt Than Dallas-Fort Worth, But Hospitals There Are Thriving 

Almost everything about the opening of the 2019 Prosper High School Eagles’ football season was big. The game in this Dallas-Fort Worth suburb began with fireworks and a four-airplane flyover. A trained eagle soared over the field. And some 12,000 fans filled the team’s new stadium, a $53 million colossus with the largest video screen of any high school venue in Texas. Atop the stadium was also a big name: Children’s Health. (Levey, 9/28)

Montana Health Officials Aim To Boost Oversight Of Nonprofit Hospitals’ Giving 

Montana health officials are proposing to oversee and set standards for the charitable contributions that nonprofit hospitals make in their communities each year to justify their access to millions of dollars in tax exemptions. The proposal is part of a package of legislation that the state Department of Public Health and Human Services will ask lawmakers to approve when they convene in January. It comes two years after a state audit called on the department to play more of a watchdog role and nine months after a KHN investigation found some of Montana’s wealthiest hospitals lag behind state and national averages in community giving. (Houghton, 9/28)

$2,700 Ambulance Bill Pulled Back From Collections

Peggy Dula is as surprised as she is relieved. The 55-year-old resident of St. Charles, Illinois, had been fighting a $2,700 ambulance bill for nearly a year. Now, the amount she owes from her September 2021 car wreck appears to be zero. This summer, KHN, NPR, and CBS News spotlighted Dula in the Bill of the Month series. The initial $3,600 charge for Dula’s ambulance ride was significantly higher than the charges received by her two siblings, who were riding in her car at the time and were transported to the same hospital. The siblings rode in separate ambulances, each from a different nearby fire protection district. All three were billed different amounts for the same services. Dula’s injuries were the least serious, but her bill was the most expensive. (Sable-Smith, 9/28)

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