Contracting News

HHS awards $1.5 billion to 11 states for health insurance exchange development
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) (Washington, D.C.) awarded $1.5 billion in funding to 11 states to set up or conduct further development of health insurance exchanges. The grants were awarded in two levels. Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Vermont each received one-year Level One Exchange Establishment Grants, which will enable the states to build marketplaces. Multi-year Level Two Exchange Establishment Grants were awarded to California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon to further develop their marketplaces. The grants will support the states’ efforts to create new affordable insurance marketplaces. For states that do not set up exchange or partner with HHS, HHS will operate exchanges in those states

Amerinet announces new senior director
Amerinet Inc. (St. Louis, Mo.) announced that Mike Gerhardt will be promoted to senior director of capital, facility, and construction services, replacing Ken McCully. Gerhardt has more than 25 years of healthcare experience as a hospital biomedical engineer, a supply chain and technology manager, and as an external consulting and group purchasing national
account manager. Gerhardt will direct a team of specialists in the energy, construction, capital, and facility areas

Henry Schein donates more than $1 million to Hurricane Sandy victims
Henry Schein Inc. (Melville, N.Y.) announced that the company, its supplier partners, and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation fulfilled its commitment to contribute more than $1 million in financial donations and essential healthcare supplies to 11 relief organizations serving communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Henry Schein Cares Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that makes financial and healthcare product donations to support healthcare professionals and community-based programs focused on prevention, wellness, and treatment; disaster preparedness and relief; and capacity building of health institutions that provide training and care.

Texas Health Resources and Healthways announce ACO
Texas Health Resources (Arlington, Texas) and Healthways Inc. (Franklin, Tenn.) will deploy their integrated physician-directed population health solution to drive health outcomes and cost savings through the newly created Texas Health (Arlington, Texas) accountable care organization (ACO), developed in collaboration with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (Richardson, Texas).

CDC deems flu season “worse than average”
Midway through flu season, influenza activity remained elevated throughout the country, particularly in some Western states, but there were signs that activity was dropping off. “It’s shaping up to be a worse-than-average season, particularly for the elderly,” said Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC (Atlanta, Ga.), during a media briefing in mid-January. Though incidences of new cases may be tapering off, providers should expect a spike in hospitalizations and deaths, part of what Frieden called a typical “phased response” to flu. In the briefing, Frieden and FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., urged physicians and the public alike to seek prompt treatment – with either Tamiflu or Relenza – as soon as flu-like symptoms (typically, respiratory illness and fever) appear. This was particularly important for high-risk patients, that is, the elderly, infants and people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. Frieden advised providers to prescribe antiviral medication for high-risk individuals with symptoms, even if rapid-flu-test results are negative. The FDA (Silver Spring, M.D.) approved flu vaccine from seven manufacturers, which, collectively, will produce about 145 million doses of vaccine this season, 10 million more than initially anticipated, said Hamburg

NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System to acquire struggling New York Downtown Hospital
NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System (New York, N.Y.) filed a CON with New York State Department of Health (Albany, N.Y.) to acquire New York Downtown Hospital (New York, N.Y.), a financially vulnerable community hospital serving lower Manhattan. A NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System official said the system would invest about $125 million, including the assumption of $40 million of debt, in improvements over several years if regulatory agencies approve the purchase. Despite New York Downtown Hospital’s high Medicaid patient population and its strong demand for relatively unprofitable services like primary and maternity care, NewYork-Presbyterian stated in its CON that the hospital could be transformed into a financially sound institution that still functioned as an inpatient community hospital. No expected acquisition timeline was given.

Welch Allyn receives FDA approval for iExaminer
Welch Allyn (Skaneateles Falls, N.Y.) received 510k clearance from the FDA (Silver Spring, Md.) for the Welch Allyn iExaminer. The iExaminer consists of a hardware adapter and associated software that allows healthcare providers to capture, store, send, and retrieve images from the Welch Allyn PanOptic Ophthalmoscope using the iPhone 4 or 4S. The PanOptic creates a viewing area of the fundus and retinal nerve in an undilated pupil that is five times larger than a traditional ophthalmoscope and increases magnification by 26 percent.

West Tennessee Healthcare, Vanderbilt Health sign affiliation agreement
West Tennessee Healthcare Inc. (Jackson, Tenn.), the parent company of Jackson Madison County General Hospital (Jackson, Tenn.), signed an agreement to affiliate with Vanderbilt Health (Nashville, Tenn.) in order to expand the scope of healthcare services in its service area. The affiliation will allow West Tennessee Healthcare and Vanderbilt to create joint centers of excellence, educational programs and clinical research collaborations, develop new clinical information technology tools, and formally collaborate on specific patient care programs. The agreement does not change ownership or management of Jackson Madison County General Hospital or any of West Tennessee Healthcare’s affiliates.

Bovie Medical Corp releases new Smoke Shark II Smoke Evacuator
Bovie Medical Corporation (Clearwater, Fla.) released the latest generation of its Smoke Shark II Smoke Evacuator (SE02). The updated Smoke Shark incorporates a 35-hour filter designed to accommodate three tubing sizes. The Smoke Shark gauges the flow setting and automatically adjusts the filter life. The newest generation has a light-weight, and compact design with simplified and flexible features for smoke plume evacuation and filtration during electrosurgical and laser procedures.