Daily Briefing Blog

Back in the headlines: Here's why Ebola is making news once again

August 5, 2015

Clare Rizer, Daily Briefing

One year ago today, the Daily Briefing published its first analysis of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa—the deadliest outbreak of the virus since it was first detected in 1976.

Since then, 27,784 total cases have been reported across the globe, and nearly 11,300 people have died.  

When the disease hit the United States in September of last year—the first cases of Ebola diagnosed outside West Africa—fear and frenzy erupted throughout the country. But since the United States was declared Ebola-free last fall, Americans have ignored most news about the virus.

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Why we need to think about Alzheimer's the way we think about cancer

July 24, 2015

Emily Hatton, Daily Briefing

"How many people in this room have a parent [or] loved one with Alzheimer's?" asked The Atlantic's Margaret Low Smith, speaking at a forum the magazine hosted this week.

More than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's today and—barring a cure—that number is expected to nearly triple in the coming decades. And the cost of care is adding up: Payers will spend $226 billion to treat Alzheimer's patients in 2015 alone, the Alzheimer's Association estimates.

Yet for all the lives touched by Alzheimer's, there's been a puzzling lack of investment in prevention, speakers at The Atlantic forum said. The federal government has only dedicated $600 million to researching new cures and treatments.

"Alzheimer's is our nation's costliest disease, and it is going to bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid if we do not invest in the research," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Experts warn that the United States needs to be investing $2 billion annually in Alzheimer's research, still less than 1% of what it spends on care, Collins added.

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Aetna and Humana are planning to merge. Here's how to think about it.

July 6, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

After weeks of speculation, Aetna and Humana on Friday consummated their long-awaited deal: $37 billion, the largest-ever merger in the insurance industry.

Together, the combined company would cover more than 33 million people, and be the nation's second biggest insurer by revenue.

It's huge news, and there are a few ways to think about it.

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Hospitals going green to save green—and the Earth

July 1, 2015

Clare Rizer, Daily Briefing

A report published last month in The Lancet says decades of progress in improving health outcomes could be undone if the world does not take a firmer stance on reducing its energy consumption and cleaning up the environment.

While climate change is typically referred to as a scientific or even political issue, notes Fierce Healthcare's Zack Budryk, experts say the biggest threat it poses could be to public health.

In a blog post, Advisory Board General Manger Zac Stillerman notes that carbon emissions tie closely to health outcomes and the number of ED visits. That means $1.1 million in negative health impact resulting from the emissions from a typical coal-powered, 200-bed hospital, he says.

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Alzheimer's disease is still ignored. It shouldn't be.

June 26, 2015

Emily Hatton, Daily Briefing

In America, someone develops it every 67 seconds. Right now, it affects about 5.3 million U.S. citizens. It's fatal and it cannot be prevented, slowed, or cured.

So why are people just starting to talk about Alzheimer's disease?

It affects a massive portion of the population—this year alone the direct cost of care is expected to reach $226 billion—half of which Medicare is responsible for. And that price tag may reach $1.1 trillion by 2050.

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The 3 biggest remaining threats to the ACA

June 25, 2015

Josh Zeitlin, Associate Editor

The Supreme Court just ended the most significant challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in King v. Burwell. But several threats remain that could have a significant impact on the law—and with it Americans' access to care and hospitals' reimbursement rates.

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More than 40% of physician networks in ACA exchanges are 'narrow,' too

June 24, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

It's no secret that many health plans in the Affordable Care Act's exchanges are "narrow"—they limit access to some providers, in order to tamp down costs.

But researchers have spent two years trying to answer this question: Are the plans too narrow? To put it simply, do the plans include enough hospitals and doctors to ensure sufficient choice and coverage?

A key challenge has been scoping the issue. And while one study suggested that 40% of hospital networks in the Affordable Care Act's exchanges are "narrow," the physician data was kind of a black box.

But thanks to new findings from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, now we know: physician networks through the ACA plans are pretty narrow, too.

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How paid paternity leave pays off

June 19, 2015

Clare Rizer, Daily Briefing

As noted in today's Daily Briefing, fathers play a vital role in a child's life.

But men aren't treated equally in the workplace when it comes to parental benefits—and that could be harmful to their families' health and their overall engagement at work.

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