February 4, 2020

Around the nation: UC San Diego Health to test drone delivery for medical samples

Daily Briefing

    The health system this month plans to test whether drones can safely transport medical samples across its facilities and reduce wait times for blood test results and treatments, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California and the District of Columbia.

    • California: UC San Diego Health this month will to test whether drones can safely transport medical samples across its facilities and reduce wait times for blood test results and treatments. The health system will launch the test, which is scheduled to begin in mid-February, at its University of San Diego hospital and health sciences campus. If the test deliveries prove successful, the health system could ask the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use drones to transport documents, samples, and supplies to hospitals and clinics throughout the entire health system's network (Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/29).

    • California: CMS has rejected California's request to implement a health care tax for managed care organizations that administer the state's Medicaid plans. The tax would have helped cover the state's share of Medicaid costs and saved California about $1.2 billion during the 2021-2022 budget year. CMS said the tax would have conflicted with federal rules because it would have applied only to organizations that receive Medicaid payments. California Department of Finance spokesperson H.D. Palmer said state officials believe the tax is "[c]onsistent with the federal government's prior approval of similar financing waivers," and will continue to discuss the issue with federal officials (Beam, Associated Press, 2/1).

    • District of Columbia: Preliminary data suggests the District of Columbia will log more than 260 fatal opioid-related overdoses in 2019, representing a 24% increase in opioid-related deaths in the District when compared with 2018. The data shows that a total of 220 people died from opioid-related overdoses in Washington, D.C., during the first 10 months of 2019. If opioid-related overdose deaths continued to grow at that same rate for the remainder of the year, 2019 will be "the second-deadliest year for drug users since the District's opioid crisis began five years ago," despite district-wide efforts to fight the opioid epidemic, the Washington Post's Peter Jamison writes (Jamison, Washington Post, 1/31).
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