September 12, 2019 | Walmart debuts new clinic model

September 12, 2019


CMS to providers: Don’t consort with bad actors

A new rule that goes into effect Nov. 4 requires providers and suppliers that participate in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP to disclose certain affiliations with entities that have officially been excluded from any of those programs, had payments suspended under a federal health care program, had their billing privileges denied or revoked, or have uncollected debt. In some cases, CMS will revoke providers’ or suppliers’ Medicare enrollment if they are affiliated with “bad actors.” (Modern Healthcare; HealthLeaders Media)

States take the lead on drug prices

Congress is back in session, but whether it will act this year—or even this session—to address the affordability of prescription drugs remains a mystery. But states aren’t waiting: 33 states have enacted a record 51 laws—a record number—to address drug prices, affordability and access. At least 16 states have enacted 20 laws governing the behavior of pharmacy benefit managers, Kaiser Health News reports, and 28 such bills were enacted in 2018. (KHN)


Americans want telehealth, but need more clarity

American Well’s Telehealth Index: 2019 Consumer Survey reveals that 66% of Americans are willing to use telehealth, and 8% have had a telehealth visit with a doctor. Most who are willing to use telehealth (61%) say they’d use it for convenience and faster service, while 54% say they’d use it to save money. However, 17% of consumers willing to try virtual care are not sure if their insurance plans cover the service. (Benefits Pro; announcement)

Walmart debuts new clinic model

Walmart is opening a new health clinic, called Walmart Health, in Dallas, Georgia. The company says the clinic will offer comprehensive and low-cost primary care. It will have on-site health providers, including nurses, to offer consultations, immunizations and lab tests. It will also include hearing tests, 60-minute counseling sessions and vision tests. To maintain privacy, the clinic is in a separate building next to a Walmart. The clinics, per se, are not new: Walmart opened in-store “Care Clinics” in Texas, South Carolina and Georgia—but they offered fewer services. (CNBC)


Vitamin supplements not immune to adverse events

Consumers need to have safety and efficacy in mind when taking any type of pill – even vitamin supplements. Large multivitamin and calcium supplements are a frequent cause of choking in seniors, according to research published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Meanwhile, a recent commentary published in Medscape holds that “there is no high-quality evidence that any vitamin or supplement has a beneficial effect on overall mortality.” It’s based largely on findings in another Annals of Internal Medicine paper. (Annals of Internal Medicine; Medscape)

New codes for a new era

The American Medical Association’s 2020 update of its CPT code set includes almost 400 changes and, according to the AMA, reflects a continued expansion of medicine beyond the walls of physicians’ offices. The update includes six new e-visit codes and two for reporting self-measured blood pressure monitoring. (Medscape Medical News; CPT code set)


After the closure: What happens to a community when a rural hospital closes? An in-depth Kaiser Health News report, “After A Rural Hospital Closes, Delays In Emergency Care Cost Patients Dearly,” explores the aftermath. (Kaiser Health News)

But what about Goop? Google has announced a broad ban on ads on its platform for a range of unproven medical procedures, including stem cell and gene therapies that have not been tested in rigorous clinical trials. The announcement comes in response to the constant online marketing by stem cell clinics selling unapproved treatments. (Washington Post)

Aetna/CVS deal gets blessing: A federal judge has signed off on a settlement between the Department of Justice, CVS Health and Aetna, ending a months-long review of the merger deal. He concluded that the deal is in the public interest and would not be anticompetitive. (FierceHealthcare)


Topol on AI and the humanistic aspects of care

The amount of data is exploding, but there’s no way to collect it all, much less use it. That’s where AI can come into play. A recent podcast featured author Eric Topol, MD. His most recent book, Deep Medicine, discusses the power of AI. One of his themes: It cannot just be about the technology: AI must, first and foremost, enhance humanistic aspects, such as empathy, to strengthen the doctor/patient relationship. (Inside DigitalHealth Data Book podcast)


“With the advance of new technologies for e-visits and health monitoring, many patients are realizing the best access point for physician care is once again their home.”—AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, in a Sept. 4 statement on changes to CPT codes

Jorden Gunessever