Around 30 percent of physician practices in Massachusetts have been considering closing down, according to a preliminary report by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission and the Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Physicians. Medical and procedural specialist groups were the most likely to consider closing their practice at 42 percent, while around 20 percent of primary care and behavioral health physician groups were weighing closure, Modern Healthcare reports.
A coalition of 51 states and territories, led by Connecticut’s attorney general, are suing generic drug companies for price fixing, according to a press release from the attorney general’s office. The lawsuit stems from the ongoing antitrust investigation into a widespread conspiracy by generic drug manufacturers to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition and unreasonably restrain trade for generic drugs sold across the United States.
The Delaware Health Care Commission released a report containing preliminary data on state-wide healthcare spending in 2018, according to State Network. Preliminary data reveals that total healthcare spending per person–across Medicare, Medicaid, commercial and other payers–averaged $8,110 per Delawarean in 2018. This includes non-claims-based payments made to providers, including performance incentives and care management. The greatest proportion of spending was dedicated to hospital inpatient spending, followed by payments for physician and hospital outpatient services. The report follows the establishment of a healthcare spending benchmark that aims to control healthcare spending growth in Delaware over time.
Kentucky passed a law to provide financial aid to rural hospitals struggling to stay afloat while the state is battling COVID-19, according to Kentucky Today. The legislation allows the Cabinet for Economic Development to provide loans to struggling hospitals for a variety of purposes, including upgrading facilities, maintaining or increasing staff levels and providing healthcare services not currently available. The action follows reports that many rural hospitals in Kentucky are in poor financial health.
Utah’s Medicaid program will cover COVID-19 testing for both active infections and antibodies for uninsured Utahns, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Providers will now be reimbursed through the Medicaid program, which has greater funding availability than the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the previous funding source. The funding will last through the public health emergency period and will cover testing for active infections, testing for antibodies and further diagnostic tests for Utah residents and citizens without health insurance.
From 2018 to 2020, Dallas-based DeLoney Law Group filed 81 percent of medical debt collection lawsuits in the state, totaling $14.8 million in judgments, according to a review of the Texas online court system by researchers from Johns Hopkins University. Patients interviewed by researchers stated that they were only given last-minute notifications about their hearings—a predatory litigation strategy, MedPage Today states. Though wage garnishment is prohibited by the Texas Debt Collection Act, debt collectors can still file a writ of execution or a writ of garnishment that allows them to go after any bank funds, property or income that is not a wage, according to the report. The hospitals that filed the most lawsuits were small, for-profit community hospitals.
Neary all Minnesota health plans have agreed to continue waiving copayments related to the care of COVID-19 through September 30, reports the West Central Tribune. Minnesota health plans had been required to cover testing without cost sharing but had agreed to waive copays for hospitalizations until June 1. The agreement removes the potential that 570 patients now in the hospital with the illness would have to face thousands of dollars in medical bills on top of lost wages. The Minnesota Department of Health has also announced $97.6 million in healthcare grants across the state, to pay for additional staffing, PPE and other expenses associated with preparation for the pandemic
Georgia’s recent budget plans have been overturned by the overwhelming financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities outlined $172 million in budget reductions for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget cuts are alarming to patient advocates as the coronavirus crisis has sparked new mental health stresses. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 56 percent of Americans reported that anxiety or stress related to the pandemic has led to at least one negative mental health outcome.
In Tennessee, anyone who wants a test can get one, and the state will pick up the tab. The guidance has evolved to “when in doubt, get a test,” and the state started paying for it in April, according to Kaiser Health News. Tennessee is doing more than double the minimum number of tests needed to control its outbreak, an NPR analysis states. Rather than private labs billing various health insurance plans, the state is picking up the tab at $100 per test.
Health insurance companies in Oklahoma will be required to cover mental health and substance use disorders the same way they cover physical ailments under a new state law, reports The Oklahoman. Despite federal requirements passed in 2008, many states still struggle to provide equal coverage for mental health and substance use treatment. This inequality can come in the form of fewer in-network physicians or unequal reimbursement rates for behavioral health compared to physical health.