Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Call by Casey Ross

Good morning! Trump's victory is still reverberating around the medical world. Check out continuing coverage on our homepage and follow us @statnews on Twitter or like us on Facebook for more.

Hospitals mum on Trump’s victory, but market speaks loud and clear

That awkward silence in your hospital is administrators trying to wrap their minds around a Trump presidency.

Health care lobbyists and physician’s groups aren’t saying much about his stunning victory. But STAT’s Rebecca Robbins reports that investors are saying plenty.

When the market closed yesterday, the hospital chain Tenet Healthcare was down 25 percent, the acute care hospital operator Community Health Systems was down 22 percent, and the hospital operator HCA Holdings was down 11 percent.

Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, downgraded all the hospitals she covers in a note yesterday, writing that "the worst possible outcome for health care stocks is a reality."

Dr. Bruce Siegel, chief executive of America’s Essential Hospitals, sought to strike a more optimistic tone, noting that he hopes to work with Trump to protect “access to high-quality care for vulnerable patients and vital services for communities.”

But for now, all he and other hospital representatives can do is wait for more details on Trump’s proposals. Meantime, perhaps it’s worth re-reading a newly relevant document: House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposal for replacing Obamacare.

On Medicaid, what Obama giveth Trump might taketh away

Even if it pays a fraction of their costs, Medicaid’s expansion under President Obama provided a lifeline to hospitals that treat large numbers of low-income patients.

But Trump could quickly pull that away.

My colleague Andrew Joseph and I report today in STAT that Trump’s proposal to give Medicaid block grants to states could erect new barriers to health care and leave millions uninsured.

It's worth noting, though, that campaign trail promises have a way of changing after one reaches the White House.

Read more.

Sponsor content by Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

A groundbreaking new clinical trial for patients with acute myeloid leukemia

There have been few advances in the treatment of AML patients for more than 40 years. LLS launched a new collaborative clinical trial designed to change the treatment paradigm by developing more individualized, effective treatment approaches. Read more.

New research: We need more (yes, more) health codes

Hospitals collect plenty of information about their patients — their housing, level of access to healthy foods, and job status, to name a few.

But a new study published in Health Affairs points out that such data is housed in so many different ways that it is impossible to search for any larger patterns, or help address health disparities on a broader level.

For example, the same electronic health code used to note lead in local drinking water might also be used to report that a patient lives in food desert. In other instances, tools for compiling social information, such as violence around the home, might not have any code that would allow researchers to track its prevalence in a given population.

“We have an opportunity right now to shape how the information being gathered could influence the national conversation,” said Dr. Laura Gottlieb, the study’s lead author and professor at the University of California, San Francisco. “We might lose a certain window of opportunity if we don’t act now develop a user’s guide” to help track the information.

Beyond simply detecting health disparities, such data could also be used to help adjust government penalties for poor health outcomes to account for differences in the populations hospitals serves.

A plague affecting fourth-year med students

Anxiety about unemployment can be paralyzing.

But for medical students it is having the opposite effect: On average, graduates in competitive specialties applied to 45.7 different residency programs in 2015.

Researchers at Brown University labeled this phenomenon “residency placement fever’ in a new paper that reports the practice is driving up costs for residents and severely disrupting the final year of their education.

"It so dominates student time and energy during the fourth year that it's become very difficult to do any curriculum planning," said Dr. Phil Gruppuso, a professor of pediatrics at Brown's Warren Alpert Medical School. He recalls that he applied to just four programs when he was graduating in the 1970s.

Today’s placement anxiety appears to be driven by graduates' perception that their careers depend on acceptance to a prestigious program. The paper proposes several possible fixes for medical school association to consider — including a limit of 10 applications per students.


  • Stunned by election result, scientific researchers call for a ‘tutorial’ for Team Trump (STAT)
  • After cruising to victory in Colorado, right-to-die movement eyes new battlegrounds (Kaiser) 
  • A DNA lab on wheels asks, “Who’s your daddy?” (NYT)
  • Canadian authorities to examine why a protective suit a lab worker wore while handling Ebola-infected pigs got torn (Reuters)

Have a news tip or comment you want to send me?

Send me an email

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


Enjoy this email? Tell your friends and coworkers to sign up here.