Friday, November 11, 2016

On Call by Casey Ross

Good morning and happy Veterans Day! Here's the news in hospitals and health care. Follow us @statnews on Twitter or like us on Facebook for more.

Memo to Trump: Three questions from hospital CEOs

Donald Trump is plenty comfortable in a C-Suite. But a hospital C-suite is another story.

It might not be so easy for him to sink into the leather, given the concerns of health executives who, for the most part, didn’t support his campaign.

Here’s what they want to know:

How are you going to reform doctor pay? The president-elect is taking office amid the biggest shift in physician compensation in a generation. The law known as MACRA is starting to tie payment to performance. Does he accelerate it, or step back? The answer holds huge implications for providers’ finances, as well as the daily work of doctors.

You sure about cutting Medicaid? Not only would this take away insurance from millions of his voters, it could also undermine the financial stability of the hospitals that care for them. Trump was ambivalent on Medicaid during the campaign. He won’t have such leeway in the White House.

About your proposal on drug prices... Cutting drug costs — and giving Medicare the power to negotiate prices — is something Trump and hospital executives can agree on. But the question is whether the president-elect will follow through on this incredibly challenging political quest.

An abortion doctor asks: Will Trump mean the end of my work?

He’s had his office windows shot out and survived near constant legislative attacks on his livelihood.

But Dr. Warren M. Hern says Donald Trump’s election might be the end of his work with women and families.

In a STAT opinion piece, he writes that a Trump presidency, combined with Republican control of both houses of Congress, poses a threat more potent, and more personally frightening, than he’s ever faced.

Read more.

New research: Can helping patients with their non-medical needs drive down costs?

Sometimes, a patient just needs a ride.

And under new payment models, some physicians are trying to help.

A survey of accountable care organizations by researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of California at Berkeley found that half of the 32 respondents offered patients services such as help with transportation, housing, and food.

The study also found that many ACOs — which are designed to cut costs by better coordinating care — still lacked the organization or financial resources to deliver such services consistently to a broad population of patients. Regulators at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are currently spending $157 million to figure out ways to better address the non-medical needs of patients.

It sounds like ACOs could use that money.

A lost ring and a prayer on Veterans Day

The ring — emblazoned with the words United States Army — landed in Robert Chicarello’s office nearly a decade ago.

As director of security at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, he gets lost jewelry all the time. If he can’t find the owner, the items are usually sold for scrap.

But Chicarello, 62, held onto this one ring; it was a token of someone’s sacrifice.

He stumbled across it recently while trying to clean out his office. He's retiring after 42 years at the hospital. Chicarello figured, with Veterans Day approaching, he’d try to find the owner one more time.

He got the hospital’s social media team to post a picture on Twitter. Tips flooded in. “I’m not a social media guy,” Chicarello said. “But it went viral.”

Chicarello learned that the two insignias on the ring indicate service in the 101st Airborne and the 18th military police brigade. He was getting closer. But the last piece was the inscription on its band -- REZ. One tipster said he’d served with someone with those initials, but didn’t know the person’s location. “Not sure how that helped,” Chicarello chuckled.

He hasn’t found the owner, but he’s still hoping. “We just need one little break,” he said. “Maybe someone who reads your column can help.”


  • DEA to ban 'pink' opioid tied to deaths across the US (STAT)
  • WHO: Measles is still killing 400 children a day (Reuters)
  • Is medicine losing its meaning? (NEJM)
  • ACA repeal could take a while (Kaiser)

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Stay well, and come back Monday. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter.


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