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Daily Briefing Blog

What you missed while we've been talking about Ebola

October 20, 2014

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

Ebola isn't the only story in health care.

(It just feels that way.) 

If you're looking for Ebola coverage, well, we've got plenty of it. But plenty of other important news last week flew under the radar as the health care industry, and much of the United States, focused their attentions on the Ebola outbreak.

Here's a quick roundup of some of the most important industry news from the past week—a mix that includes reports to Congress, reports to Wall Street, and some of the most innovative health care developments that caught our eye on the Daily Briefing.

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Four maps that explain the Ebola outbreak

October 19, 2014

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

The Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa in December 2013 has infected more than 9,000 people and killed more than 4,400—making it the deadliest outbreak of the virus since it was first identified in 1976. (By comparison, the next largest outbreak of Ebola infected 425 people and killed 224.)

As Daily Briefing readers know, we've been monitoring the Ebola outbreak since it emerged as a public health threat in early 2014. Here are four maps that illustrate the scope of the outbreak and how it's being handled in the United States.

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The Ebola workers who become Ebola patients

October 15, 2014

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

Nina Pham is a 26-year-old nurse who attended college at Texas Christian University and earned her nursing degree in 2010. Two months ago, she was certified in critical care nursing.

And when Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28, Pham was part of the team assembled to care for the Ebola-stricken Liberian national.

Within two weeks, Pham had developed a fever. And by this past weekend, tests confirmed that she had become the first patient to become infected with Ebola on U.S. soil.

Unfortunately, Pham isn't alone. Late on Tuesday night, tests confirmed that a second nurse who cared for Duncan at the Dallas hospital was also infected.

This makes three cases of Ebola contracted outside Africa (with the third being in Spain). All three cases involved health care workers—and that's no coincidence.

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Are all hospitals really equipped to handle Ebola?

October 13, 2014

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

CDC and other health authorities have consistently said that every hospital in the United States has the equipment and training to treat an Ebola patient and contain the disease.

But the news that a nurse in full protective gear contracted Ebola after caring for an infected patient at a Dallas hospital is challenging assumptions and raising questions about the nation's plan to contain Ebola.

And the questions are ever more important amid the growing expectation that more U.S. cases could emerge in the coming weeks. "Unfortunately, it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of Ebola," CDC Director Thomas Frieden says.

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Walmart's latest venture: 'We want to be the #1 health care provider in the industry.'

October 7, 2014

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

Walmart wants to be your doctor. Now it wants to help you shop for insurance, too.

On Monday, the retail giant announced a new partnership with DirectHealth.com, an online insurance comparison site and health insurance agency.

It's a short-term partnership (Walmart plans to have it run for only two months) with long-term potential. About 2,700 Walmart stores will feature counters staffed by DirectHealth.com agents, who will help consumers shop for Medicare health plans and navigate Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges

Walmart's strategically positioning the new counters around the country. (Only half of Walmart stores will host DirectHealth.com agents.)

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ICD-10 was supposed to take effect today. It didn't. Here's why.

October 1, 2014

Clare Rizer, Daily Briefing

Payers and providers are one year away from the switchover from the ICD-9 to the ICD-10 code sets, which require them to change out about 18,000 codes for about 155,000 codes.

But the deadline wasn't always Oct. 1, 2015. In fact for some time, it was supposed to be today.  

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What to know about the new penalties for hospital-acquired conditions

October 1, 2014

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

The ACA's third and final penalty program launches on Oct. 1, 2014. It is expected to penalize about 760 hospitals for hospital-acquired conditions, such as bloodstream infections and issues related to patient safety.  

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The big cuts coming for safety-net hospitals in the new fiscal year

October 1, 2014

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

The Affordable Care Act-mandated cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments increase today—by more than hospitals initially expected. The reductions will be especially tough for hospitals in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs.

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