The Rundown | Week of 1.1.2020

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Stark Law Changes Supported by Medical Community

So far, many providers and hospitals have celebrated October’s reformation of physician self-referral rules, so long as the changes do not include requirements around price transparency. The proposed new rules closed for comments earlier this week. “The new value-based arrangement exception could provide a clearer pathway for practices entering into value-based payment arrangements where there exists no viable pathway today,” wrote a representative from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) believes the revisions will better align referrals with value-based care by improving care coordination.
>> Read More: MGMA and AMGA Offer Comments to CMS Regarding Proposed Stark Law Changes

Study: Mergers Don’t Improve Mortality, Patient Experience, and Other Key Metrics

Despite the flurry of consolidation and merging of hospitals in recent years, a new analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine found that such activities were “associated with modestly worse patient experiences and no significant changes in readmission or mortality rates.” Researchers used Medicare claims data from 2007 to 2016 of 246 acquired hospitals and 1,986 non-acquired hospitals as a control group. While patient experience worsened, clinical processes in acquired hospitals significantly improved, though the improvement “could not be attributed conclusively to a change in ownership because differential improvement occurred before acquisition.”
>> Read More: Changes in Quality of Care after Hospital Mergers and Acquisitions

Too Much Sleep Associated With Increased Risk of Stroke

Researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China, published a new study in Neurology revealing that “those reporting longer sleep duration (9 or more hours a night) had a greater risk of stroke.” However, fewer than six hours of sleep had “no significant effect on stroke risk.” This effect is compounded if the sleep is “poor quality.” The study concluded that “long sleep duration, long midday napping, and poor sleep quality were independently and jointly associated with higher risks of incident stroke.”
>> Read More: Sleep Duration, Midday Napping, and Sleep Quality and Incident Stroke

The Trend Continues: Americans Are Not Going to the Doctor as Often

Census information from Household Economic Studies shows that “among all people aged 18 to 64, the average number of medical provider visits per year decreased from 4.8 in 2001 to 3.9 in 2010.” The study also shows that “the number of annual medical provider visits among people aged 18 to 64 who reported fair or poor health decreased.” This information shows that the utilization of medical resources is low despite high costs. This trend is expected to be applicable in 2020 as well.
>> Read More: Health Status, Health Insurance, and Medical Services Utilization: 2010

New Report Shows Medical R&D Isn’t Keeping Up With Demands

A new study from Research America shows that “nearly 130,000 people lose their lives by age 45 to health threats research can overcome,” but the U.S. spends “26 times federal medical and health research and development [(R&D)]” to “treat major chronic diseases and conditions.” The study argues that “federal spending on medical and health R&D amounts to $43 billion, representing about 1 percent of the federal budget,” and advocates for increased federal investment in medical R&D.
>> Read More: U.S. Investments in Medical and Health Research and Development

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