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HHS Announces Price Ceiling
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently imposed a price ceiling that caps the amount hospitals enrolled in the 340B drug discount program can be charged for medications. To enforce the limit, the department imposed fines for drug manufacturers that intentionally overcharge hospitals for outpatient drugs. A website that lists the ceiling prices will serve as an additional transparency measure. The rule will go into effect on January 1 instead of July, which was the start date the department suggested following pushback from the Senate and Trump administration. However, a September lawsuit from industry associations — including the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, and others — that claimed the delay unlawful.
>> Read More: 340B Drug Pricing Program Ceiling Price and Manufacturer Civil Monetary Penalties Regulation
HHS Unveils Playbook to Assist with EHRs
To alleviate the stress of healthcare IT — electronic health records (EHRs) in particular — HHS released a playbook for providers. While designed to improve care coordination, EHRs are often cited as a major source of undue stress and clinician burnout. Titled “Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs,” the 74-page guide is structured around three primary objectives: reduce the effort and time required to record health information in EHRs for clinicians; reduce the effort and time required to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals, and health care organizations; and improve the functionality and intuitiveness (ease of use) of EHRs. Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement, “Addressing the challenge of health IT burden and making EHRs useful for patients and providers, as the solutions in this draft report aim to do, will help pave the way for value-based transformation.”
>> Read More: Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs
More Uninsured Children for First Time in 10+ Years
For the first time in more than a decade, the percentage of uninsured children in the United States increased. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of uninsured children rose by 276,000, from 4.7 percent to 5 percent. The report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute indicated that, of the children who lost insurance, three-quarters live in states that opted not to expand Medicaid coverage; in these states, the rates of uninsured adolescents is nearly three times that of children in states that have expanded Medicaid. The problem is especially pronounced in Texas, with “more than one in five uninsured children in the U.S. residing in the state.” Though the rate has dropped from 9.7 percent since researchers began collecting data in 2008, nine states (including Texas) experienced “statistically significant” changes: South Dakota, Utah, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, and Massachusetts.
>> Read More: Nation’s Progress on Children’s Health Coverage Reverses Course
Oversleeping Linked to Heart Problems
A study published in the European Heart Journal concluded that oversleeping is linked to a greater risk of death and cardiovascular disease. Researchers analyzed data from 116,632 participants across 21 countries and found that those who sleep more than eight hours per night have a 41 percent higher chance of mortality from stroke or heart failure. Daytime naps were similarly “associated with major cardiovascular events and deaths in those with [more than] six hours of nighttime sleep,” according to Chuangshi Wang, the study’s lead. However, the findings were observational and therefore did not identify a causal relationship.
>> Read More: Association of estimated sleep duration and naps with mortality and cardiovascular events: a study of 116 632 people from 21 countries
New Guidelines for Concussions
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated guidelines for mild traumatic brain injuries — namely concussions — to shorten the amount of time between the injury and exposure to physical activity, light, schoolwork, and screen-time. The update follows recent research that found children who return to regular activities after two days of rest, versus the standard five, reported better health outcomes. Furthermore, the revised guidelines caution against CT scans or fMRIs except in cases where physicians suspect major injuries. In related news, researchers from the Radiological Society of North America announced that only one season of football may have permanent consequences on the development of the player’s brain. The study found that young males who played one season of football experienced damage to their corpus callosum that was not found in the control group.
>> Read More: Kids With Concussions Can Phase In Exercise, Screen Time Sooner Than Before 2:25