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Healthcare News July 2, 2013

  • Poll: Many uninsured are unaware of individual mandate

    More than 40 percent of uninsured Americans aren’t aware that they could be required to buy coverage next year, according to a Gallup survey.

    Awareness of the law’s individual mandate, which requires most taxpayers to buy insurance or pay a penalty, was lower among uninsured people than the general public.

    Although a majority of uninsured respondents knew about the mandate, 43 percent were unfamiliar with it — compared with just 14 percent of those who have insurance.

  • Study: ObamaCare rule covering 930K young adults

    More than 930,000 young adults have health insurance thanks to an ObamaCare rule making them eligible for coverage on their parents’ plans, according to a new study.

    Researchers at Indiana University found that young adult men are twice as likely as their female peers to obtain health coverage through their parents.

    Minority young adults are less likely to add health insurance that way, corresponding with an apparently lower rate of employer-sponsored health insurance among minority parents, the study found. 

  • HHS partners with libraries on ObamaCare outreach

    The Obama administration is enlisting the help of libraries in its effort to encourage people to sign up for health insurance options under ObamaCare.

    The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) said Monday that it is providing information about the healthcare law to local libraries and training librarians to help people find certified “navigators” to help make sense of the law’s coverage options.

    The department is looking for a wide range of partnerships as it approaches Oct. 1, when new insurance exchanges in each state must begin enrolling people in private healthcare plans.

  • Obama defends work in Africa

    Critics have blamed Obama for not paying enough attention to Africa, contrasting him unfavorably with President Bush.

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  • Hobby Lobby wins temporary exemption from birth-control mandate

    Hobby Lobby, a leading critic of the contraception mandate in President Obama’s healthcare law, won a court order Friday temporarily exempting it from the policy.

    A federal court said the chain of arts-and-crafts stores does not have to comply with the birth-control mandate while it pursues a broader legal challenge to the policy.

    The court did not rule on the merits of whether the contraception mandate is unconstitutional, although its order is based in part on a determination that Hobby Lobby has at least a reasonable chance of succeeding on the merits.

  • Merge Unveils eClinical OS(TM) Marketplace and Mobile Applications at DIA

    Customers Will Benefit From Electronic Document Translation, Study-Specific Training Videos, and Real Time Mobile Analytics and Visualization

    CHICAGO, June 21, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Merge Healthcare Incorporated (Nasdaq:MRGE), a leading provider of clinical systems and innovations that seek to transform healthcare, today announced the eClinical OS™ Marketplace, extending its clinical trial platform to connect customers with premier industry service providers. In the latest release of eClinical OS, Marketplace allows customers to request and receive services directly from within study workflows, further enabling study sponsors and CROs to run studies more efficiently. The newest release also introduces Trial Connect, a new mobile alerts and reporting application for accessing study metrics on the go.

    This connectivity further supports the company’s focus on improving study efficiency with shorter deployment times and more cost effective trial design. Users will be able to electronically request and receive document language translation, embed interactive study-specific training and patient education videos, and access real-time clinical data visualization, analytics and reporting through any mobile device.

    “We’re integrating and delivering services from other best in class providers via eClinical OS; creating unprecedented value and efficiency in the industry’s leading digital clinical platform,” said Zaher El-Assi, General Manager, eClinical Solutions for Merge.

    “New releases of our platform will both advance eClinical OS features and aggressively expand what’s possible for our customers within a single, cloud study solution via the Marketplace. The aggregation of premium services and software – true partnerships that provide seamless benefit to users in the cloud – enable us to deliver efficiencies that significantly improve and accelerate the clinical trials process.”

    Merge integrates with TransPerfect to offer electronic transmission of documents and system text for translations within eClinical OS

    Merge and TransPerfect, a premier provider of translation services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and healthcare companies, have partnered to streamline the translation of critical documents for global studies.

    Expanding its commitment to global trials beyond support for 25 languages and real-time helpdesk interpreting, Merge eClinical now offers on-demand translation of Case Report Forms and supporting documents.

    “Merge eClinical customers can now seamlessly request the translation of Case Report Forms, and their supporting documents directly from within their eClinical OS study,” explained El-Assi.

    Translation is available by clicking a link next to an uploaded document. The document is pushed to TransPerfect for translation, then returned within eClinical OS.

    “TransPerfect is a prime example of what we’re doing with the eClinical OS Marketplace,” continued El-Assi. “Take a premium third-party capability, which used to require a separate upload, purchase, and delivery process, and embed it within the eClinical OS study workflow. We’re able to remove steps, decrease costs and margin for error, and increase efficiency.”

    Merge partners with Comprehend Systems to provide clinical data visualization, analytics and reporting

    Merge and Comprehend Systems, Inc., a leading provider of end-to-end clinical data insights, partner to enable real-time analytics and visualization across multiple studies tracked within eClinical OS.

    “Our partnership with Comprehend improves the way clinical researchers access, understand, explore and analyze data,” said El-Assi. “Non-technical users can create ad-hoc reports and visualizations in real-time, from numerous sources and across different trials.”

    Merge eClinical OS customers will be able to use Comprehend Clinical™ analytics tools, including highlights, filters, graphs and visualizations to create, save, and share eClinical OS reports and interactive dashboards.

    “Comprehend specializes in bringing intuitive data insights to clinical trials,” added El-Assi, “and is a perfect fit for eClinical OS, which exists to improve efficiency, support better decisions, and drive results.”

    Merge integrates with Emmi Solutions to provide interactive training tools within eClinical OS

    Merge and Emmi Solutions, a market leader in interactive solutions to achieve meaningful business and clinical outcomes, will partner to integrate high-quality, interactive training presentation within eClinical OS.

    “With Emmi, our customers can create and embed interactive, on-demand training modules within eClinical OS workflows,” continued El-Assi. “eClinical OS already allows customers to build entire training programs, design and deliver comprehension tests, and track results.”

    “We expect the combination of using interactive content and our strong training and competency tracking features to improve study performance for our customers, while supporting FDA and quality compliance requirements.”

    Merge eClinical OS customers will be able to embed their own content, or take advantage of content made available in eClinical OS by Merge or other approved partners. Training requirements are presented to users within their eClinical OS workflow, based on site, role, or other training criteria.

    “Our goal is to offer not only the tools customers need to develop and track training requirements, but for our Marketplace to serve as the leading online content provider for everything clinical trials,” concluded El-Assi.

    Merge releases new mobile application for eClinical OS

    In addition to aggregating premier service offerings to streamline the clinical trials process, the latest version of eClinical OS brings Trial Connect, a mobile alerts and reporting companion application, allowing users to review study data directly from any mobile web-enabled device.

    “With eClinical OS Trial Connect, our clients now have a convenient way to stay connected with their team and their active studies while on the go,” said El-Assi. “Whether they need to share metrics with key stakeholders, or just want to stay in the loop while traveling, they now have critical study data at their fingertips.”

    Merge will be showcasing eClinical OS’ latest enhancements at the upcoming DIA Annual Meeting in Boston, MA, booth #619.

    About Merge

    Merge is a leading provider of clinical systems and innovations that seek to transform healthcare. Merge’s enterprise and cloud-based solutions for image intensive specialties provide access to any image, anywhere, any time. Merge also provides health stations, clinical trials software and other health data and analytics solutions that engage consumers in their personal health. With solutions that are used by providers and consumers and include more than 25 years of innovation, Merge is helping to reduce costs and improve the quality of healthcare worldwide. For more information, visit merge.com.

    About Comprehend Systems

    Comprehend Systems, Inc. was formed in 2010 in California by an entrepreneurial team that has several decades of combined experience with clinical trials and software development. The company’s mission is to create Software-as-a-Service tools that help understand, explore, and analyze data across multiple, disparate datasources. For more information, visit comprehend.com.

    About Emmi Solutions

    Emmi’s proprietary interactive communication methodology delivers actionable health information to patients via multiple modalities – including computers, mobile phones and tablets – at key moments across the continuum of care. Emmi’s ability to connect with patients in language they understand at a time they are ready to learn and through the devices they already own has been demonstrated to help healthcare providers reduce costs, increase revenue and improve outcomes. The patented platform allows providers to track the delivery and consumption of information to measure the clinical and financial impact of patient engagement and meet regulatory guidelines. The web-based platform requires no installation or maintenance and can be used in stand-alone mode or fully integrated into existing systems. Learn more by visiting emmisolutions.com.

    About TransPerfect

    TransPerfect is the world’s premier provider of translation services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and healthcare companies. The team is comprised of linguistic experts with proven technical and scientific know-how, supported by ISO 9001:2008 and EN 15038:2006 certified quality management system. For more information, visit transperfect.com

  • GOP leaders claim momentum for long-term ‘doc fix’

    Two House committees are claiming momentum for their effort to repeal and replace Medicare’s flawed physician payment formula, the sustainable growth rate (SGR).

    The Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees on Friday released a more detailed version of their long-term “doc fix” proposal and requested stakeholder feedback by July 9.

    “We remain committed to a deliberate and transparent process as we work to help our doctors, help our seniors and ensure we have a fair system with the best quality of care,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in statement. 

  • Safety groups push regulators to avoid toxic couches

    A coalition of health and safety organizations wants federal regulators to keep potentially dangerous flame retardant chemicals out of couches and other furniture.

    On Monday, the groups will send a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency that sets standards for household products, to weigh in on new fire safety standards for furniture.

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Healthcare News June 28, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: GOP doubles down on Sebelius fundraising calls

    Republican senators are pushing Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to reveal more about her ties to Enroll America and her fundraising efforts on behalf of the pro-ObamaCare group. In a letter Thursday, 28 GOP senators demanded that Sebelius send a more complete response to a May inquiry about her requests that health industry players donate money to Enroll America. The Health Department says Sebelius only made two phone calls and that the actions were legal.

    The letter highlights the GOP’s ongoing opposition to Enroll America, particularly as the group prepares massive public relations campaigns for the next six months. Republicans see the nonprofit as an arm of the Obama administration that helps the HHS ignore congressionally mandated limits on federal healthcare spending. Many of the group’s leaders are former Obama campaign or White House officials, adding to the GOP’s suspicion. 

    On Thursday, Republicans challenged the department’s defense that similar fundraising calls were made by the George W. Bush administration during the rollout of Medicare Part D and the Clinton administration during the launch of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

    “HHS did engage in broad public outreach efforts and in some cases worked with the private sector to support these programs,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, we can find no evidence that an HHS Secretary ever solicited money or services for any specific third-party organization, particularly one run by a former White House aide as a ‘Plan B’ when appropriated funds were denied to HHS by Congress.”

  • Republicans blast Sebelius, demand ObamaCare fundraising docs

    Republican lawmakers are demanding that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary fulfill a request for documents about her fundraising efforts on behalf of Enroll America.

    In a letter to Sebelius, 28 GOP senators expressed suspicions about Enroll America, which was created to promote ObamaCare, and its ties to the administration.

    Republicans on the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees first launched their inquiry with letters to Sebelius in May.

  • DOMA ruling could limit ObamaCare eligibility

    Some same-sex couples might lose their eligibility for new tax credits under President Obama’s healthcare law as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

    The court on Wednesday struck down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prohibited same-sex couples from collecting federal benefits available to married couples.

    Expanding same-sex couples’ overall access to federal benefits, though, could mean that some couples lose their eligiblity for ObamaCare’s tax credits.

  • Republican lawmaker to NFL and NBA: Don’t do ObamaCare’s ‘dirty work’

    HHS Secretary Sebelius is negotiating with sports affiliates about paid
    advertising and efforts to encourage enrollment under ObamaCare.

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Healthcare News June 27, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: DOMA ruling affects ObamaCare, Medicaid eligibility

    The Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday on the Defense of Marriage Act has big implications for healthcare benefits.

    The court struck down the central piece of DOMA, which said same-sex couples could not obtain federal benefits, even in states that recognize same-sex marriage.

    So in the 13 states that have legalized same-sex marriage, same-sex couples will now be treated as a family by the federal government — just as opposite-sex couples have been. The classification makes a big difference in calculating couples’ eligibility for federal benefits, including Medicaid and tax credits under ObamaCare.

    Earlier in the DOMA litigation, some states complained that the marriage law was costing them money on Medicaid. The federal government was counting each person in same-sex couples separately, and sometimes they were both individually eligible for Medicaid. But if they had been counted together — as they will be now — their income would have been too high to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

  • Proposal would streamline access to home healthcare

    New bipartisan House legislation would allow medical professionals other than doctors to order home health services for seniors under Medicare.

    Current rules prohibit physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives to order home healthcare for older patients, though these professionals may order nursing home care and prescribe medications.

    Lawmakers behind the new measure said this prohibition on ordering home care services doesn’t make sense for Medicare patients, particularly those without access to physicians.

  • New bill would pay seniors for staying healthy

    New bipartisan legislation introduced Wednesday would allow Medicare to pay seniors if they improve and maintain their health.

    The measure from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) would create a new program within Medicare to pay seniors hundreds of dollars for meeting certain health criteria.

    The Medicare Better Health Rewards program would measure seniors’ wellness using six criteria: blood pressure, cholesterol, tobacco use, body mass index, diabetes indicators and up-to-date vaccinations and screenings. 

  • GOP lawmakers lament ObamaCare as threat to jobs

    House Republicans blasted the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday as a threat to job creation at a hearing involving small businesses.

    Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said ObamaCare forces business owners to make “gut-wrenching” decisions about hiring, firing, employee hours and whether to provide health insurance.

    “These are not hypothetical issues,” Upton said in committee. “These are real questions businesses are facing right now.” 

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Healthcare News June 26, 2013

  • Siemens Healthcare adopts EHR Developer Code of Conduct

    Today, Siemens Healthcare announced that the company has officially adopted the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Developer Code of Conduct. Released by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) EHR Association (EHRA), the code establishes transparent industry principles reflecting a continued commitment to support safe healthcare delivery, to recognize the value and impact that EHRs have for patients, and to operate with high integrity in the market. Siemens Healthcare, Health Services, will incorporate the principles of the EHR Developer Code of Conduct into U.S. operations.

    “By adopting the EHR Developer Code of Conduct, Siemens Healthcare affirms many of its business practices that already were meeting the code’s underlying principles and demonstrates a commitment to developing solutions that are focused on meeting our customers’ needs and more importantly the needs of their patients,” said John Glaser, PhD, CEO, Siemens Healthcare, Health Services.

    A number of the principles outlined in the EHR Developer Code of Conduct have already been in practice at Siemens Healthcare. For example, the Code of Conduct calls for a commitment to product design, development, and deployment in support of patient safety. Siemens employs a Quality Management System which is in compliance with 21 CFR Part 820 and that is certified to recognized international standards: ISO 9001 and ISO 13485. Siemens has also supported the development of a learning healthcare system and believes that the Code of Conduct is another important step toward achieving it.

    “The Developer Code of Conduct highlights an increased accountability that healthcare organizations expect of their vendors,” said Dr. Glaser. “Providers today are facing an unparalleled demand to incorporate healthcare IT into their operations and care provision, necessitating an even more thoughtful approach to mutually assuring successful implementations, highlighting the need for interoperability and creating an opportunity for vendors and providers to learn from each other in a way that benefits patients.”

    The Siemens Healthcare Sector is one of the world’s largest suppliers to the healthcare industry and a trendsetter in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, medical information technology and hearing aids. Siemens offers its customers products and solutions for the entire range of patient care from a single source – from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, and on to treatment and aftercare. By optimizing clinical workflows for the most common diseases, Siemens also makes healthcare faster, better and more cost-effective. Siemens Healthcare employs some 51,000 employees worldwide and operates around the world. In fiscal year 2012 (to September 30), the Sector posted revenue of 13.6 billion euros and profit of 1.8 billion euros. For further information please visit:www.siemens.com/healthcare.

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Celebs in talks to sell ObamaCare

    The White House is working to recruit Hollywood stars for efforts to
    promote the healthcare reform law, a top celebrity political adviser
    said Tuesday. Trevor Neilson, a Clinton White House veteran who now runs
    Global Philanthropy Group, represents celebrities like Eva Longoria and
    John Legend. He said that some of his clients are “looking at ways to
    be involved” in selling ObamaCare.

    “I think the White House is
    very wise to identify partners to help market the Affordable Care Act,”
    Neilson said. “Just like any good product, when people are aware of the
    many benefits it provides, there will be increased demand.”

    The
    news comes on the heels of an announcement by federal Health Secretary
    Kathleen Sebelius that she’s pursuing partnerships with major sports
    leagues, including the NFL, to tout the law.

  • Cruz: Immigration bill, ObamaCare create ‘enormous incentive’ to hire immigrants

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued Tuesday that because the comprehensive immigration reform bill prohibits immigrant workers from getting ObamaCare benefits, employers will fire U.S. workers and replace them with immigrants.

    Cruz said he wanted to offer an amendment to address the “most egregious aspect” of the immigration bill. He said that because employers with more than 50 full-time employees will face a $5,000 penalty for not providing health insurance benefits, those employers would instead hire immigrants with resident provisional immigration (RPI) status instead of U.S. workers.

    “Anyone granted RPI status is exempted from ObamaCare, which means that the employers that would be hiring them do not face the tax of $5,000 per employee,” Cruz said. “This bill creates an enormous incentive to hire those here illegally and it does so by creating a statutory penalty for hiring U.S. citizens.”

  • DLA Piper adds healthcare lobbyist with administration, congressional ties

    DLA Piper hired Krista Donahue Drobac a health expert, formerly advising the National Governors Association on implementing ObamaCare, to serve as a lobbyist and advisor in its Washington office.

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Healthcare News June 25, 2013

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Sebelius in talks with the NFL to promote ObamaCare

    The Obama administration is taking its first steps toward formally educating the public ahead of Oct. 1, when ObamaCare’s new insurance exchanges open for enrollment. On Monday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that her department is in talks with the NFL to promote the law — a comment that coincided with the unveiling of a revamped HealthCare.gov and a new toll-free number to answer consumer questions about healthcare reform.

    It’s going to be a big summer for the administration and its allies as they prepare for the exchanges — the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act — to launch. Federal health officials are standing up the marketplaces in the more than 30 states that refused to create their own, and in addition to that effort, supporters of ObamaCare have to make sure the public understands the law’s benefits. 

    A partnership with a major sports franchise could reap enormous benefits as it did in Massachusetts, where the Boston Red Sox cut a commercial for the state’s healthcare reform law in 2006. Sebelius cited that precedent Monday, calling it “incredibly effective” and a “logical place to go” with ObamaCare.

    “I’d say the most daunting aspect is that people still don’t know enough about what’s going to change in the law and don’t have enough information — still have some misinformation,” she added.

  • Sebelius: HHS negotiating with insurers on premiums

    The federal government is taking a more active role than expected in selecting plans for ObamaCare’s new insurance exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday.

    Sebelius said the federal government is negotiating with insurance companies over the rates they want to charge in exchanges run by the federal government. She contrasted the negotiations with state laws that accept all policies at all prices.

    “We intend to do rate negotiation and make sure that the plans are going to offer consumers the best possible choices, as opposed to the law in some states … where a company comes in with the plan rates and you take what you get,” Sebelius said.

  • Supreme Court blocks lawsuits against dangerous drugs

    Patients who are injured by generic drugs cannot sue the manufacturer to have the drug pulled from the market, the Supreme Court said Monday.

    In a 5-4 ruling, the court’s conservatives said injured patients cannot file lawsuits arguing that a generic drug is too dangerous to be on the market.

    A previous high court ruling shielded generics from most lawsuits over their warning labels, but some states also allowed lawsuits over the safety of the product itself.

  • Sebelius in talks with NFL on promoting ObamaCare insurance plans

    Sebelius said her agency is also in talks with the NBA to promote the law.

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Healthcare News June 24, 2013

  • 10 to watch on ObamaCare rollout

    While most attention is trained on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, there are many others playing important roles behind the scenes.

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Healthcare News June 22, 2013

  • NARAL condemns ‘outrageous’ Iowa abortion law

    Abortion-rights supporters are denouncing an “outrageous” Iowa law that will require the governor to personally sign off to pay for abortions with state Medicaid funds.

    The law, signed by Gov. Terry Branstad (R) on Thursday, requires the governor’s office to approve each reimbursement from the state’s Medicaid program to hospitals or clinics that provide abortions in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly or when the life of the mother is at risk.

    “Women in Iowa already face so many barriers in trying to get safe, legal abortion care,” NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement on Friday. “Now their governor will be deciding personally on a case-by-case basis, whether a woman’s doctor will be paid for providing a legal, medically appropriate, and constitutionally guaranteed procedure.”

  • Report: ObamaCare call centers expect 42 million calls

    New call centers to help people navigate President Obama’s healthcare law are expected to receive 42 million calls this year — far more than the average for Medicare call centers, according to a report in The Washington Post.

    Vangent, the same company that runs Medicare’s call centers, will also operate new centers to help people enroll in new coverage options under the healthcare law.

    The firm’s contract for both Medicare and ObamaCare call centers is worth $530 million in the first year, the Post reported.

  • Top pension fund to cover transgender healthcare, advocates say

    The country’s largest public pension fund has moved to provide equal access to healthcare for transgender people, advocates said.

    The California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, reportedly voted Wednesday to remove exclusionary language from the healthcare policies offered to its 1.3 million enrollees.

    In the past, transgender CalPERS members could be denied care — from basic medical tests to hormone therapy — because of their gender status. 

  • News bites: Big lift

    Tens of thousands of workers will roll out ObamaCare

    PR push for health insurance exchanges draws scrutiny

    Some immigrants excluded from healthcare overhaul

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