Today’s Top Story

President Trump addresses healthcare issues in speech to Congress

An article in HealthLeaders Media looks at healthcare-related issues in the wake of President Donald J. Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress. Among other things, Mr. Trump stated that reducing the price of prescription drugs is one of his “greatest priorities,” and urged the U.S. Congress to consider enacting so-called “right to try” legislation—a policy under which terminally ill patients would be granted access to experimental treatments. The president cited passage of the Veteran’s Administration accountability law and overturning the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate among his accomplishments. The writer notes that Mr Trump did not acknowledge a recent 6-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, nor the issue of funding community health centers (CHCs). Federal funding for CHCs lapsed on Oct. 1, and since that time they have been funded by temporary spending packages.

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Other News

Some physicians remain skeptical of pay-for-performance

A report from Leavitt Partners suggests that many physicians may not believe pay-for-performance programs to be effective solutions for quality improvement and cost control. Members of the research team surveyed 621 physicians and found that 22 percent of respondents believed accountable care organizations (ACOs) would reduce spending and 21 percent supported bundled payments as a means to drive down costs. Overall, just 29 percent of respondents said that ACOs and episode-based payment would improve patient health outcomes.

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Read more and download the report…  (registration required)

Study: “Running two rooms” may be safe for certain arthroplasty procedures

A study published online in The Journal of Arthroplasty suggests that “running two operating rooms” may not compromise patient safety or outcomes for hip or knee arthroplasty procedures. The researchers reviewed information on 16,916 arthroplasties (7,511 total hip arthroplasties and 9,405 total knee arthroplasties) performed at a single center over an 11-year period. Overall, 7,002 cases (41 percent) were consecutive cases and 9,914 cases (59 percent) were overlapping cases. The researchers found no significant difference across cohorts in 90-day component revision rates or 90-day complication rates.

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Study: Depression is not an independent predictor of postoperative CTS symptoms

Data from a study published in the January issue of The Journal of Hand Surgery suggest that preoperative depression may not be an independent predictor of residual carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) symptoms after carpal tunnel release (CTR) surgery. The authors conducted a prospective study of 227 patients who underwent CTR and were evaluated for depressive symptoms using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. They noted that prior to surgery, depression was associated with increased Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire (BCTQ) score. At 1-year follow-up, depressed patients had a higher BCTQ score and more palmar pain overall. However, multivariable analyses suggested that preoperative depression had a small but statistically significant influence on palmar pain, but not on postoperative BCTQ score.

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CDC director steps down in wake of conflict of interest concerns

Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, has resigned as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), due to concerns about potential conflicts of interest. Politico reports that 1 month into her tenure as CDC director, Dr. Fitzgerald purchased shares in a tobacco company. Anne Schuchat, MD, principle deputy director of the agency, will take over as acting director.

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In the States

CMS to roll out new Medicare cards starting in April

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin mailing new Medicare cards to all enrollees beginning in April 2018. Cards will be distributed from April through June based on geographic location and other factors. CMS has posted additional information on the new cards for both providers and patients.

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Read the provider-targeted information…

Learn more about the distribution plan (PDF)…


Call for volunteers: CMS Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment

AAOS seeks to nominate members to the CMS Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment. The panel advises the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and CMS on the clinical integrity of the Ambulatory Payment Classification groups and their associated weights, and supervision of hospital outpatient therapeutic services. Applicants for this position must be active fellows, candidate members, candidate members osteopathic, candidate member applicants for fellowship, or candidate member applicants for fellowship osteopathic. In addition, all applicants must provide the following: an online AAOS CAP application, a current curriculum vitae, a 100-word biography, and a letter of interest highlighting his or her expertise in the subject area. All supporting materials must be submitted to Kyle Trivedi by March 15, 2018, at 11:59 p.m. CT, at:

Learn more and submit your application…  (member login required)