Healthcare Roundup—Mission Health could join HCA; Slafsky out as 340B Health CEO

Three nurses walking down a hospital corridor
340B Health CEO Ted Slafsky has resigned, plus more healthcare headlines. (Getty/VILevi)

Mission Health to merge with HCA, expanding the for-profit company's reach into North Carolina 

Mission Health announced Wednesday that it has signed a letter of intent to join HCA, one of the largest for-profit healthcare companies in the country. Mission Health's hospitals, if the deal is finalized, would be HCA's first in North Carolina. The merger would expand access and improve care quality, Mission Health said in the announcement. Release

Ted Slafsky out as CEO of 340B Health 

Ted Slafsky is no longer president and CEO of 340B Health, a group that includes 1,300 hospitals that participate in the 340B drug discount program. Maureen Testoni, executive vice president and general counsel, will take over as interim CEO beginning April 1 while 340B seeks a permanent replacement. Release

Air ambulances could be a solution to the rural healthcare crisis 

People living in remote areas may struggle to access healthcare services, and air ambulances could play a role in easing those access concerns, experts say. However, there are significant cost barriers to expanding the use of air ambulances, as Medicare, Medicaid and a number of private payers provide limited coverage of such services. FierceHealthcare article

HHS's John Bardis, who approved ex-secretary Tom Price's flights, to resign 

John Bardis, the Department of Health and Human Services' assistant secretary of administration, will resign effective April 6. Bardis, a longtime friend of former secretary Tom Price, signed off on the private charter flights Price took as secretary. Price resigned in September amid the controversy. Politico article

Highmark Health boosts income by $1 billion in 2017 as ACA change plans turn first profit 

Highmark Health's plans on Pennsylvania's Affordable Care Act exchanges were profitable for the first time in 2017, contributing to the company's $1 billion increase in net revenue for the year. Karen Hanlon, Highmark's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said 2017 was a "watershed year for Highmark Health's performance." FierceHealthcare article

Trump's opioid plan includes 'nationally interoperable' PDMP 

President Donald Trump unveiled a plan this week to address the opioid epidemic that includes a nationally interoperable prescription drug monitoring program. The idea is popular among health IT and drug abuse experts, but barriers to implementation could slow progress. Some drug experts are also concerned that a spotlight on PDMPs could distract from other initiatives. FierceHealthcare article

Christopher Dawes retires as CEO of Lucile Packard Children's Hosptial 

Christopher Dawes, who has served as CEO of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital since 1999, will retire, effective immediately. Dennis Lund, M.D., chief medical officer, will serve as interim CEO. Dawes said he intended to announce his retirement but stay on until a permanent replacement was named. Health issues accelerated his departure. Letter

Meaningful Use pushes more hospitals to embrace interoperability, but barriers remain 

Hospitals are increasingly integrating interoperability as part of workflows, a trend that can be traced back to the start of Meaningful Use program. However, there are still challenges, including infrastructure problems, which has led a number of major industry groups—such as the American Hospital Association—to request that MU's stage 3 be delayed or canceled. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has postponed its implementation until 2019. FierceHealthcare article

Physicians have mixed feelings on e-cigarettes 

A new poll from SERMO suggested that 45% of physicians feel that e-cigarettes do more harm than good. Some doctors see the benefits of electronic cigarettes as aids to help patients quit smoking, but many are concerned the devices could lure kids and teens to start smoking. FierceHealthcare article