30 things for ASC leaders to know for January

Healthcare encountered a number of changes this past month, with a new presidential administration making its way into the White House and the industry's future remaining relatively uncertain.

Here are 30 updates from the past month.

Judge blocks $37B Aetna, Humana deal
Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the Department of Justice and blocked the proposed Aetna and Humana deal. In a 156-page opinion, Judge Bates ruled the deal would significantly reduce competition in the Medicare Advantage market in 364 complaint counties and three complaint counties in Florida.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health updates DON regulations for existing freestanding ASCs
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health updated its state medical regulations on Jan. 11, 2017, allowing existing freestanding ASCs to apply for a determination of need without an acute care hospital affiliation. The DPH will continue to mandate applicants submitting plans to build a new ASC to affiliate with either a Health Policy Commission-certified ACO or existing independent community hospital.

US woman dies from superbug resistant to 26 antibiotics
A superbug resistant to 26 different antibiotics killed a 70-year-old Nevada woman in September 2016. The CDC reports the patient returned to the United States in August 2016 following an extended trip to India. Upon admission on Aug. 18, 2016, providers first diagnosed the patient with systemic inflammatory response syndrome, which the CDC reports the infected right hip seroma likely caused. The patient later went into septic shock and died in early September 2016.

Envision Healthcare Corp. expands in Arizona through Oro Valley Anesthesia acquisition
Colorado-based Envision Healthcare Corp.'s physician services division acquired Tucson, Ariz.-based Oro Valley Anesthesia. The anesthesia group provides patient care at eight ASCs as well as two hospitals throughout Tucson. Over the past few years, Envision strengthened its presence throughout the state by acquiring anesthesia, neonatal and emergency medicine physician groups.

Advocate Sherman Hospital receives board approval for $12.7M ASC
The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board gave Elgin, Ill.-based Advocate Sherman Hospital the green light to build its ASC in Elgin. The 15,000-square-foot surgery center costs an estimated $12.7 million. The surgery center is a joint venture between Deerfield, Ill.-based Surgical Care Affiliates, 13 physician investors and Advocate Sherman Hospital.

Frontier, Liberty Endoscopy Center open GI-based ASC in New York
Frontier Healthcare Holdings and Liberty Endoscopy Center partnered to open a gastroenterology-facing ASC in New York, where the two companies are located. The center has three procedure rooms, with the potential to add a fourth.

Outpatient rotator cuff repairs increase 272% in a decade
A recent article in Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found between 1996 and 2006, there was a 272 percent population-adjusted increase in outpatient rotator cuff repairs. The rate of complications and adverse events following orthopedic surgery performed at an ASC ranges from 0.05 percent to 20 percent.

Proposed Athens Surgery Center becomes reality
The year-long process will come to a close for the Athens (Ga.)-Limestone Hospital with the groundbreaking of its $25 million surgery center. The state issued a certificate of need in September 2015, but the hospital took more than a year to file a signed construction contract.

The Joint Commission, CMS ban secure text messaging use for care orders
After allowing physicians to use secure text messaging to send care orders, The Joint Commission and CMS are revising their position and are banning the practice. The Joint Commission originally banned the practice in 2011.

Surgery Partners opens ophthalmology-driven ASC
Nashville, Tenn.-based Surgery Partners is opening a surgery center in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 20,000-square-foot center marks the ASC management company's second surgery center within the Beverly Hills region.

AAFP pens letter to CMS over OPPS/ASC proposed rule
In December 2016, the American Academy of Family Physicians sent a letter to CMS with suggestions on its Medicare's 2017 hospital outpatient prospective payment system and ASC payment system final rule.

Physician burnout up 25%+ in 4 years
In the "Medscape Lifestyle Report 2017: Race and Ethnicity, Bias and Burnout," Medscape found physician burnout totaled 51 percent this year, with reported cases increasing by more than 25 percent over the last four years. Emergency medicine physicians reported the highest burnout rate amongst practicing physicians at 59 percent, with obstetrics and gynecology providers trailing closely behind at 56 percent.

UnitedHealthcare, FitBit team up on wellness program
Hopkins, Minn.-based UnitedHealthcare is now including the FitBit Charge 2 device in the UnitedHealthcare Motion's wellness program. Through the deal, UnitedHealthcare Motion participants can use the device to earn up to $1,500 in Health Savings Account or Health Reimbursement Account credits annually.  

Wills Eye Hospital files suit for classification as ASC
CMS and Philadelphia-based Wills Eye Hospital are at odds over the agency classifying Wills Eye as an ASC. Wills Eye reestablished inpatient care services at its main building in 2013 and then applied for Medicare enrollment as a hospital. Prior to adding these services, the eye center fell under ASC classification.

CBO: ACA repeal could cause 26M to lose coverage by 2026
A recent Congressional Budget Office report found if legislators dismantle the ACA through the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015, 32 million Americans could lose coverage by 2026.

Republican senators bring ACA alternative to the table
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Susan Collin (R-Maine) introduced a proposal to former President Barack Obama's ACA. The senators say the alternative would grant states more power over healthcare policy while also providing Americans more access to affordable coverage and work to cover millions of Americans who presently lack insurance.

The ACA hits peak popularity, despite looming repeal
Despite a possible repeal of the ACA looming, Americans responded positively about President Barack Obama's health law. Forty-five percent of respondents said the ACA is a "good idea," while the remaining 41 percent said the law was a bad idea.

84% of medical personnel are unsure of MACRA's requirements, survey finds
Providers spanning the nation are unsure about what CMS' Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act will require of their practice.

359k physicians to participate in CMS' Alternative Payment Models in 2017
CMS announced that 359,000 physicians intend to participate in four of CMS' Alternative Payment Models in 2017.

Physicians rate top 5 patient privacy threats from EHRs
The "Medscape EHR Report" asked physicians to rank the top five patient privacy threats. The top patient privacy concerns among physicians in relation to EHRs are:

1. Hacking and misusing information: 60 percent
2. Loss of patient information through a malfunction: 57 percent
3. Unauthorized access to patient information: 57 percent
4. HIPAA compliance: 35 percent
5. Internal sabotage of records: 24 percent

Google, Boston Scientific 2017 New Year's Resolutions: Jumpstart digital health startups
Marlborough, Mass.-based Boston Scientific's annual Connected Patient Challenge — co-sponsored by Mountain View-Calif.-based Google — aims to revolutionize data analytics in healthcare by awarding a $50,000 prize to an analytic-based start-up.

Allergan fails to disclose 2014 merger talks
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fined Parsippany-Troy Hills, N.J.-based Allergan $15 million for failing to disclose its 2014 merger talks with Actavis, also based in Parsippany-Troy Hills. The SEC said Allergan never provided timely disclosures about its potential deal with Actavis.

CVS' Adrenaclick auto-injector to hit the market
Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health will soon release its Adrenaclick auto-injector. CVS decided to launch the Adrenaclick auto-injector on the market and sell the product for $109.99 per two-pack before potential discounts.

Physician groups continue to critique Trump's HHS pick
Physician groups spanning the nation continue voicing their opposition of Rep. Tom Price, MD, who is President Donald Trump's primary pick for HHS secretary. National Physicians Alliance, a nonprofit, multispecialty organization, questioned Dr. Price's trading practices while Clinician Action Network collected 8,000 signatures on a letter voicing their opposition of Trump's HHS pick.

Trump's take on pharmaceutical companies: 'Getting away with murder'
President Trump took on pharmaceutical companies last week saying such companies were "getting away with murder" based on their pricing practices.

Sylvia Mathews Burwell defends ACA as time as HHS secretary comes to a close
During a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell maintained her support of the ACA and questioned the validity of Republicans' replacement plan. Ms. Burwell said promises concerning a replacement plan are unrealistic. She said, "As for silver bullets, they don't exist. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

Surgeons rank as No. 1 highest-paying job in these 16 states
Surgeons had the highest ranking average annual salary of $247,520 in these 16 states:

1. Nevada
2. Arizona
3. Florida
4. Georgia
5. Tennessee
6. South Carolina
7. North Carolina
8. Virginia
9. Kentucky
10. Illinois
11. Wisconsin
12. Michigan
13. New Jersey
14. Vermont
15. Kansas
16. Nebraska

Cigna anticipates 500k new customers in 2017
After adding 330,000 customers in 2016, Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna's CEO David Cordani aims to add 500,000 in 2017. In its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Cigna said it spent $145 million on merger-related transaction costs in 2016. It spent $35 million in 2015.

Data breaches jump 40% in 2016
An Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout report found the nation tracked 1,039 total data breaches in 2016, an all-time record. This figure equates to a 40 percent jump compared to 2015. The business sector comprised 45.2 percent of all data breaches last year, with the healthcare sector trailing behind at 34.5 percent.

Healthcare stocks start out 2017 with strong gains
On 2017's first trading day in the United States, healthcare company stocks are creeping up. These gains reflect a contrast to last year, with the S&P 500's healthcare index falling 4 percent in 2016.

More articles on healthcare:
American University welcomes former HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell as president — 4 facts
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