President Joe Biden was declared "healthy" and "vigorous" following an annual physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Maryland.
- District of Columbia: Following an annual physical at Walter Reed, White House physician Kevin O'Connor said President Biden is "a healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency, to include those as chief executive, head of state and commander in chief." According to O'Connor, Biden's physical included an "extremely detailed neurologic exam" that did not find any indications of neurological disorders, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's disease. The letter reported that President Biden weighs 178 pounds with a body mass index of 24.1. His blood pressure was 128/76 and his pulse was 69. Biden's total cholesterol level was 115, which O'Connor said was "remarkably low." (Olorunnipa/Abutaleb, Washington Post, 2/16; Shear/Altman, New York Times, 2/16)
- District of Columbia: HIPAA complaints and breaches increased significantly between 2017 and 2021, according to a report released Friday. During that period, the number of large HIPAA breaches increased by 58%, and the number of complaints increased by 39%. Typically, HHS defines HIPAA breaches as any disclosure that "compromises the security or privacy of the protected health information" of an individual. Large breaches are defined as those that impact at least 500 individuals. Insurance providers, health billing services, health care providers, and facilities are subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule. According to HHS, the agency does not have adequate resources to properly respond to complaints and breaches. (Choi, The Hill, 2/17)
- Maryland: CMS last week announced that it is exploring three drug cost savings models for Medicare beneficiaries. "We are proposing these three models in response to President Biden's executive order that directed HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] to consider additional actions to further drive down prescription drug costs," said CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. The models, which were authorized under an executive order by President Joe Biden, "complement" drug cost-savings provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, according to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "HHS is using every tool available to us to lower healthcare costs and increase access to high-quality, affordable health care," Becerra said. "We are full steam ahead in delivering the cost savings from the President's Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, and people on Medicare are already feeling the benefits. But as President Biden has made clear, we must build on the new prescription drug law with further action, which is why HHS is implementing these new projects to bring down prescription drug costs." (Frieden, MedPage Today, 2/15; Commins, HealthLeaders, 2/15)