Healthcare Roundup—Hospital list prices vary significantly, analysis finds

The price for a procedure can vary significantly between hospitals, Axios found. (Getty/everydayplus)

Analysis: Expect hospital prices to vary widely

Axios took a deep dive into hospital list price data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and found that prices can vary significantly from hospital to hospital for basic procedures.

The 2016 data showed that of 2,684 providers, most (76.7%) charge between $30,000 and $90,000 for a joint replacement surgery. Another 14.5% charge between $90,000 and $150,000, while just 6.7% set prices under $30,000. The final 2.1% charge more than $150,000 for a joint replacement.

Prices were typically highest among for-profit hospitals, Axios found. Memorial Hospital of Salem County, a New Jersey facility owned by Community Health Systems, charged the nation’s highest price—a whopping $267,726 for joint replacement.

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Hospitals defend this practice because payers rarely pay sticker price, Axios noted, but list prices are used as a baseline for negotiating payment rates. For comparison, Medicare on average pays less than $13,000 for a joint replacement. (Axios)

HHS dings University of Connecticut professor for research misconduct

A professor at the University of Connecticut has agreed to have her research supervised for one year after the Department of Health and Human Services found she “recklessly” included false data in grant applications.

Li Wang, Ph.D., a professor of neuropsychology and neurobiology, also agreed in the settlement to ensure that future grant applications to the U.S. Public Health Service include a certificate from the Office of Research Integrity that ensures the data is genuine.

Wang will also be unable to serve on any PHS committees, boards or peer review groups. (Federal Register [PDF])

Study links ACA’s coverage expansions to fewer uninsured admissions for heart disease

As more people were able to gain insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, there was a decline in the number of uninsured admissions for heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers at Northwestern University studied more than 3 million non-Medicare admissions for heart attack, stroke and heart failure recorded between 2009 and 2014 in 30 states. In Medicaid expansion states, uninsured hospitalization rates decreased from 13.1% before the complete rollout of the ACA to 7.7%.

Admissions covered by Medicaid increased in tandem, from 25.6% to 35.1%.

The trend didn’t hold true for non-expansion states, according to the study, where hospitalization rates for the included conditions declined by less than a percentage point after the ACA took full effect. (JAMA Network Open)

Task force draft recommendations urge doctors to focus on depression in pregnant women, new mothers

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new draft recommendations urging doctors to provide or refer pregnant and postpartum women who are at an increased risk of perinatal depression to counseling interventions. The draft recommendation says physicians should screen pregnant women and new mothers to identify those who are at risk of depression so they can be treated.

The task force said it found convincing evidence that counseling interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, are effective in preventing perinatal depression in women at increased risk. The task force is accepting comments on its draft recommendations until Sept. 24 before finalizing its guidance. (USPSTF)

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