Industry News

Senate confirms Seema Verma as head of CMS
Seema Verma was confirmed as the new head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Verma was President Trump’s pick and is a protégé of Vice President Pence. She was approved by a 55-43 vote, largely along party lines. Verma has helped craft expansion plans in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Ohio. Democrats were against Verma’s nomination because she was too vague on where she stood on specific policies such as drug pricing and lacked any formal Medicare experience. They also took issue with her support for requiring Medicaid enrollees to pay premiums as a condition for coverage. Verma, along with Brian Neale, the newly selected director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, are expected to push Medicaid in a more conservative direction in which states could apply for and receive waivers to impose work-search requirements and lifetime caps on Medicaid enrollment.

Baptist Health to lay off 288
Baptist Health (Louisville, KY) is laying off employees across its eight markets in Kentucky and southern Indiana. The staff cuts affect 288 employees across the system (about 1% of Baptist Health’s workforce). Of the 288 affected employees, 149 are at the system’s corporate headquarters in Louisville, primarily in administrative roles. According to the system, Baptist Health is realigning its structure to best meet the needs of its patients and communities within a challenging financial environment.

CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health names Chris Glenney as president and CEO
CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System (Tyler, TX) named Chris Glenney as president and CEO. He most recently worked as COO of the integrated healthcare system. Glenney succeeds Lindsey Bradley, who left to serve as SVP of group operations and CEO for CHRISTUS’ Northeast Texas region.

Boston Medical Center receives $25M donation to help launch opioid center
Boston Medical Center (Boston, MA) received a $25 million gift which it plans to use to fight the public health crisis caused by drug addiction and the opioid epidemic. The donation to BMC will create the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine, named after billionaire investor John Grayken and his wife, Eilene. The hospital is a national forerunner in the establishment of best practices for the treatment of drug addicted patients. The stretch of road outside its doors is known by locals as the “Methadone Mile.” In 2015, an estimated 1,659 deaths were related to opioid abuse in Massachusetts.

CVS to use Epic EHR for specialty care management programs
CVS Health (Woonsocket, RI) will use Epic as the EHR system for CVS Specialty’s care management programs. The transition to Epic will help integrate and improve clinical processes for CVS Specialty, including Accordant, which provides care management program services for patients with rare, chronic diseases. The announcement this week expands the company’s use of the Epic EHR system beyond MinuteClinic, which transitioned to the system in 2015.

CDC report: Nation sees a slight gain in colorectal cancer screening in 2015 compared to 2000
According to data in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, more adults are getting recommended screening tests for colorectal cancer, but not for breast or cervical cancers. The nation saw a slight gain in colorectal cancer screening in 2015 compared to 2000 for whom screening is recommended, from 33% to 62% in men and from 35% to 63% in women. But cervical cancer screening decreased from 88% to 81% in women ages 21 to 65 who had not had a hysterectomy. Breast cancer screening for women ages 50 to 74 years remained constant (72% in 2015). For more, visit

North Carolina state Department of Health exposed patients’ information in email
The North Carolina state Department of Health and Human Services in 2016 sent private patient information to adult care homes by unencrypted email. The security lapse involved 12,731 Medicaid patients living in adult care homes. In late November, an employee sent an unencrypted email that included patient names, Medicaid numbers, and the homes in which the patients resided. The department notified the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, and sent letters to patients and their guardians. After the lapse, DHHS changed its procedures, using identification numbers in place of names and Medicaid numbers, a department spokeswoman said. The department said there is no indication the information was intercepted and has no reason to believe the information was compromised in any way.

WHO releases list of world’s 12 most dangerous superbugs
The World Health Organization (WHO) has drawn up a list of the highest priority needs for new antibiotics. It enumerates 12 bacterial threats, grouping them into three categories: critical, high, and medium. The 12 bacteria featured on the priority list were chosen based on the level of drug resistance that already exists for each, the numbers of deaths they cause, the frequency with which people become infected with them outside of hospitals, and the burden these infections place on health care systems. Three bacteria were listed as critical:

  • Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria that are resistant to important antibiotics called carbapenems. These are highly drug resistant bacteria that can cause a range of infections for hospitalized patients, including pneumonia, wound, or blood infections.
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which are resistant to carbapenems. These bacteria can cause skin rashes and ear infections in healthy people but also severe blood infections and pneumonia when contracted by sick people in the hospital.
  • Enterobacteriaceae that are resistant to both carbepenems and another class of antibiotics, cephalosporins. This family of bacteria live in the human gut and includes bugs such as coli and Salmonella.
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