Monday Roundup

Photo by Sven Read on Unsplash

Happy Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples’ Day

In anticipation of my residential move to Texas, which occurred in April 2022, the FEHBlog applied to waive into the Texas bar. My application was approved on June 30, 2022. (The FEHBlog remains a member of the DC Bar.)

The FEHBlog then became acquainted with the Texas Bar’s continuing legal education requirement. Last year, I took a 15-hour televised course on eldercare. This year, I am attending the Texas Health Law Conference in downtown Austin.

The FEHBlog had lunch today (by happenstance) with a lawyer who told me that he represents a rural hospital near Odessa. The hospital has twelve beds. Beckers Hospital Review points out 2023 Texas hospital closings and bankruptcies.

There was a provider-oriented session on the No Surprises Act. The speakers quipped that the law is no balance billing law with surprises for providers. At least the speakers agree with the FEHBlog that the law is helping patients.

From the public health front,

  • Healthcare Finance tells us that telehealth may be the solution to the chronic illness problem plaguing a large part of our country, as reported by the Washington Post last week.
    • “More patients with chronic disease. Fewer providers to take care of them. An aging population. SDOH barriers. Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring are essential tools to help manage these healthcare hurdles, an expert says.”
  • The Hill adds,
    • “The Biden administration on Friday extended flexibilities regarding controlled substances to be prescribed via telemedicine. 
    • “The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said in a notice it would allow providers to continue using telemedicine to prescribe certain controlled substances through the end of 2024.”  
  • NBC News reports,
    • “The coronavirus isn’t the only pathogen that can cause symptoms that last months, or even years after an initial infection is overcome, a new study published Friday in The Lancet’s eClinicalMedicine suggests. 
    • “In an analysis of data from 10,171 U.K. adults, the researchers found evidence of a “long cold” syndrome that can follow infection with a variety of common respiratory viruses, including common cold viruses and influenza.
    • “While some of the symptoms of long Covid and long colds overlapped, the study noted that people with long Covid were more likely to continue to experience lightheadedness, dizziness and problems with taste and smell; lingering long cold symptoms were more likely to include coughing, stomach pain and diarrhea. 
    • “Experts said the new research could help shine a light on the types of long-lasting symptoms that come after recovery from an illness, including chronic fatigue syndrome.”
  • Fierce Healthcare discusses how payers are tackling the food insecurity issue in our country.
  • Cardiovascular Business lets us know,
    • “The American Heart Association (AHA) has developed a brand new strategy for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD). 
    • “This updated approach highlights the close relationship CVD has with three other significant health conditions: kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity. Patients with CVD, for example, often face a heightened risk of developing kidney disease, T2D or obesity. The opposite can also be true—patients with any of those three conditions may face a heightened risk of developing CVD. 
    • “With these close connections in mind, the AHA has defined a new health condition: cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic (CKM) syndrome. CKM syndrome involves nearly every major organ in the body, the group said in a new statement, though its biggest impact is on a patient’s cardiovascular system. 
    • “Anyone who has CVD, or even faces a risk of developing CVD in the future, may have CKM syndrome. By educating physicians and patients alike on the way these different conditions interact with one another and implementing a screening strategy for CKM syndrome, the AHA believes it can help patients get the care they need to live longer, healthier lives.”  

From the U.S. healthcare business front,

  • The Wall Street Journal informs us,
    • “The biopharmaceutical company on Sunday said that it had entered into a definitive merger agreement with Mirati under which it would pay $58.00 per share in cash. Mirati stockholders will also receive one non-tradeable contingent value right per share, potentially worth $12.00 per share in cash.
    • “Mirati’s board unanimously approved the transaction. * * *
    • “The acquisition of Mirati will add the Krazati lung cancer medicine to Bristol Myers Squibb’s commercial portfolio. It also includes access to clinical assets that Bristol Myers Squibb said would complement its oncology pipeline.”

The other business news comes from the HLTH conference ongoing in Las Vegas, NV.

  • Per Healthcare Dive,
    • “Venture capital firm General Catalyst plans to buy an unnamed health system to act as a proving ground for new technology to improve hospital operations and patient care. 
    • “The impending purchase is part of a new health business being spun out by General Catalyst, called the Health Assurance Transformation Corporation, or HATCo, General Catalyst managing director Hemant Taneja and former Intermountain CEO (and new HATCo CEO) Marc Harrison said Sunday at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas.
    • “Harrison and Taneja did not share details on what health system General Catalyst would be looking to acquire, when an acquisition could happen or how much the VC firm plans to spend.”
  • Per Fierce Healthcare,
    • Here’s an overview of the second day of the conference and moreover
    • “Headway, a startup that connects patients with mental health providers covered by insurance, picked up $125 million in fresh funding to build out its provider network to all 50 states. * * *
    • “This latest round of capital will go toward investing in technology and tools to help mental health providers grow their practice, Andrew Adams, co-founder and CEO, wrote in a blog post.
    • “We have plans to make Headway available to individuals seeking care in all 50 states and the District of Columbia very soon and will be building products to help providers deliver care across state lines in 2024. We’re also further investing in ensuring patients have a simplified experience understanding their insurance benefits and changes, with excellent visibility, support, and accuracy,” Adams wrote.”
  • and
    • “Main Street Health focuses exclusively in rural communities and partners with primary care clinics in these regions by placing a health navigator in each facility. The navigator then assists with care coordination, including reaching out to patients about preventive screenings, contacting them with medication reminders, scheduling primary care visits following a hospital discharge and providing support for social needs.
    • “The company currently operates in 18 states by partnering with more than 900 clinics. The expansion brings its total footprint to 26 states. The average clinic working with Main Street Health is based in a town with between 3,000 and 5,000 people and includes 2.5 providers, according to an announcement.
    • “Value-based care company Main Street Health is charting an expansion into eight additional states as it banks more than $315 million in new capital.”