Healthcare Roundup—Panel imposes ‘unprecedented’ conditions on Beth Israel-Lahey deal

Close-up of handshake between person in suit and person in business shirt.
The Massachusetts Public Health Council has approved the Beth Israel-Lahey deal again, with conditions, plus more healthcare headlines. (Getty Images/FS-Stock)

Massachusetts panel puts ‘unprecedented’ conditions on Beth Israel-Lahey deal 

Massachusetts’ Public Health Council has approved the planned merger between Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health for a second time, but with significant conditions. 

The panel took a second look at the merger under the suggestion of the state’s Health Policy Commission, which projected that the deal could drive up prices. The council said that the combined system must report annually how it is using the savings from the merger to improve care, and would be monitored for price hikes. 

Kevin Tabb, M.D., Beth Israel’s CEO, who would serve as chief executive of the joint system, said that the conditions are “unprecedented.” (WBUR

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HHS awards $2B in grants to expand access to AIDS care, medication 

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it had awarded $2.34 billion in grants to programs aimed at boosting access to care and medication to treat AIDS. 

The grants were awarded to city, state, county and other local community groups through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which is overseen by the Health Resources and Services Administration.  

“New medical advancements and broader access to treatment have helped transform HIV/AIDS from a likely death sentence into a managable chronic disease,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is an important way to ensure that these life-saving treatments reach the Americans who need them.” (Announcement

Health experts investigate rare childhood paralysis cases across 5 states 

Health officials in five states are investigating cases of a rare illness that can cause polio-like symptoms in children. 

Cases of acute flaccid myelitis have been reported in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington, Colorado and Minnesota. Symptoms of AFM include sudden weakness in the arms and legs, neck stiffness, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing. 

Six cases have been confirmed so far in Minnesota since mid-September, the highest since 2014. Colorado officials are investigating 14 cases, while three children are being treated at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. 

Illinois Department of Health Officials said they were looking into nine potential cases; just four cases had previously been reported since 2015. (The New York Times article

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